Hello, Alumni and Friends of COAL,
As we get ready for a new semester, I thought you might like to know what’s going on in the college.
Let me introduce myself to you — I am a professor in the Department of Communication, in my 27th year here at Missouri State.
As many of you know, Dean Carey Adams left to become the provost of Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia, and I agreed to help this academic year by serving as interim dean. This is my second time as interim dean, and I believe I know the college well. I will do my best to help COAL keep moving forward!
We start the year with 2 1/2 new department heads! Carolyn Cárdenas, new head in Art and Design, comes to us from Utah State University and Dr. Shawn Wahl, new head in Communication, comes from Angelo State University, Texas. Dr. Jason Jolley, who served as interim head of Modern and Classical Languages, was selected as the permanent head (Jason is our ½ new head this year!). One of the things I am most looking forward to this year is working with them, the other four heads, and the associate dean — a wonderful, bright and talented group of people!
This summer we concluded our 17th Missouri Fine Arts Academy program. The MFAA is a residential integrated arts program for rising juniors and seniors in Missouri. It provides artistic experiences, extracurricular activities, and support for students who are talented artistically, including as musicians, visual artists, creative writers, dancers, actors. The students are pushed to explore the arts beyond their own areas of talent — visual artists are encouraged to dance, dancers are encouraged to draw, musicians are encouraged to act, and so forth. The MFAA has truly changed the lives of many talented Missouri high school students. When the program began in 1996, the state provided the funding for the program; worthy students from across the state participated without cost to themselves and their families. In recent years, the state has reduced (and consistently discusses eliminating) funding for this program. Thus, we have been forced to charge tuition, with reduced fees for those students on free and reduced lunch programs. In addition, the college has supported the program financially because we think it is important — to Missouri as well as to COAL. But as you can guess, many worthy students now cannot afford even the fairly modest tuition charged for the three weeks here on campus. One of the things I am committed to doing is figuring out a way that we can support the MFAA and put it on a sustainable footing that can withstand cuts from the state. You will be hearing more about this in future blogs. If you want to know more about the MFAA, I encourage you to go to the website and take a look at the pictures from the 2012 academy.
In other summer news, we had a joyous celebration of Tent Theatre‘s 50th anniversary in July. Four different reunion celebrations, by decades, were hosted around town and the gala event, highlighting Tent seasons from the 1960s, packed Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts. A wonderful time was had by all who attended, including alums from the first season of Tent.
If you live in or visit Springfield, try to see the renovations of Brick City, just north of downtown Springfield. Eventually, the entire Art and Design department will move to this formerly abandoned warehouse/factory area. Being able to house the entire Art and Design department in one facility is a dream that has been decades in the making! In addition, the two Brick City galleries are both stops on Springfield’s First Friday Art Walk, which is a perfect time to come see Brick City. Renovations are still underway, but by July 1, 2013, the entire department will be in one space.
Two more things you will want to know about. First, you may have heard that Missouri State is searching for a new president. Applications are currently being reviewed and airport interviews with the semi-finalists will be held in September. The Board of Governors and search committee members hope the new president will be selected by the end of October. Second, COAL will be conducting a search for a new dean; that search will commence this fall and will likely be concluded in the spring semester. We’ll keep you posted about the results of those searches!
I am grateful for your support of the College and hope you will stop in to visit me if you are in the area. And, please, plan to join us for our Homecoming activities October 26 and 27!