In the last newsletter I dwelt on the process of writing a college strategic plan, and I’m happy to report that the select committee to draft such a plan has held its first meeting, adopted a general outline for the plan, and begun to hammer out some of the details that will put flesh on the bare bones. I am confident that we will have a draft ready by the end of January or early February.
Instead of writing further about Strategic Plans or other college goals, however, I would like to spend a few moments this month describing some of the remarkable events that have recently taken place in the college, events that showcase the high quality and variety of our college’s artistic and intellectual life.
I begin with this year’s Northeast Ohio Economic Workshop, which took place on Saturday, November 1st, in the new space on the first floor of Main Classroom. This was the second annual workshop in the series conceived and organized by Bill Kosteas for regional junior faculty participants. This year there were fourteen presenters from Oberlin College, University of Akron, University of Toledo, University of Minnesota, Kent State University, Youngstown State University, and the Federal Reserve Bank. Although I was not able to attend the workshop, Bill Morgan was able to stop in and sample some papers. He reports that all of the topics were of great interest and that the quality of the papers lived up to the promise of the titles. In addition, the quality of the audience response to the papers was very high as well. Three of our colleagues, Bill Kosteas, Yee Fei Chia, and Subhra B. Saha, delivered papers, and Sebastien Buttet chaired a session. This is a great example of our college’s regional academic leadership.
Cultural Crossings, under the leadership of Antonio Medina-Rivera, continues to offer high-quality lectures in the area of the humanities. In a year when the CSU common reading is a graphic novel, it is perhaps consistent that the first lecture of the year was given by Hector Cantu, a journalist and the co-creator of the comic strip entitled Baldo. The focus of the comic strip is on the ups and downs in the lives of a typical Latino family. By means of a power-point lecture, Cantu talked about not only the challenges of writing a nationally-syndicated column but also the perils of writing about what some would perceive as cultural stereotypes. The lecture drew a notably large and diverse crowd of young people as well as CSU faculty and staff.
The subject of race was placed in the center of a Town Hall meeting held at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on November 5th. “Let’s Talk about Race” was one of a series of town hall meetings sponsored by the museum to coincide with its exhibit entitled: “Race: Are We so Different?” (a superb exhibit that will run through January 4, 2009). The meeting was led by Njeri Nuru-Holm and featured a panel of distinguished faculty members, including Barbara Hoffman, Michael Williams, George Ray, and Dr. Joanne Dowdy, a professor of Education at Kent State University. The evening began with a formal presentation by Barbara Hoffman on the biological foundations of race and then went on to feature informal responses to questions posed by Dr. Nuru-Holm on aspects of race and racial relations. The quality of discourse was notably high, and the audience was very large and appreciative. The evening was given special poignancy by the election of Barack Obama, which took place the evening before.
On Friday, October 24th, the 18th People’s Art Show opened with a packed reception. Originally conceived by Professor Emeritus John Hunter, the show is an unjuried, uncensored exhibition of the artistic work of hundreds of regional artists. Hundreds of art works, spanning a wide range of genres, topics, and levels of quality, fill almost every inch of the Art Gallery’s walls. There is no unifying theme except, perhaps, for artistic capaciousness. Of course, since the exhibition is uncensored, there are works that shock and offend, but there are also touching works of great beauty that will surprise and delight the viewer. In fact, one painting so moved Marketing VP Rob Spademan that it not only is featured prominently on the CSU home page but it also adorns the top of November/December version of our CLASS Fine Arts Calendar. Gallery Director Rob Thurmer explains that “As an exercise in esthetic democracy, the People’s Art Show has become a part of our community. It has served as a battleground for ‘first amendment issues, as a forum for the role of art in contemporary society, and as an outlet for creativity at the grassroots level.” It is also, he might have added, a wonderful example of our college’s engagement with our community. The exhibit runs until December 4th, and it’s well worth a visit.
Jazz is one of the foundational American art forms, and CSU is fortunate to have a strong jazz program under the leadership of Howie Smith and John Perrine. But interest in jazz extends beyond the bounds of the Music Department, and on November 8th, the CSU community was treated to an evening of jazz featuring Benny Golson and the CSU Jazz Heritage Orchestra. This was the second annual concert in a series entitled “Treasures of Jazz,” sponsored by the Black Studies Program and organized by Mike Williams. Mr. Golson is an internationally famous jazz musician and composer, who has composed hundreds of songs, eight of which have become “standards” in the modern jazz repertoire. Throughout his illustrious career, Mr. Golson played with such jazz luminaries as Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, and Art Blakey. The list of musicians for whom he has composed is a who’s who of stars in jazz and popular music. Mr. Golson’s performance on November 8th was electrifying, as was the playing of our own Jazz Heritage Orchestra. All in all, it was a very memorable evening.
This is only a representative sampling of the rich menu of academic and cultural offerings provided by the college and its faculty over the course of the last month. If there were world enough and time, I could have written about other music concerts, dramatic performances, and poetry readings. Through these offerings, we as a college fulfill our mission of helping to create a vibrant life of the mind on campus and beyond. They are at the foundation of our engagement with the community.
Before I close, I would like to mention an exciting new possibility for our students: new internships, recently funded by the Cleveland Foundation and available through the Washington Center. I spoke about this at our recent faculty meeting, but the information bears repeating. These are semester internships through which students are placed in government or non-profit agencies located in the nation’s capital. These are agencies associated with a broad range of CLASS disciplines, from the arts, through the humanities, to the social sciences. The interns will work 4.5 days a week at a specially chosen agency, take one three-hour course, and attend a specially arranged lecture once a week. Students will be awarded credit for12 to 15 semester hours upon successful completion of the internship.
The Cleveland Foundation scholarships will cover the costs of tuition, housing, and the application fee, but not meals and other living expenses. There will be nine scholarships available, for both undergraduates and graduate students. The Center is eager to give out all nine scholarships as soon as possible. Please check out the Center’s web site for further information. The application deadline for spring 2009 will be December 1, 2008, and the application deadline for summer 2009 will be March 15, 2009. Justin Vaughn (Political Science) has agreed to serve as Campus Liaison, and he will coordinate the application process. We encourage interested students to contact Dr. Vaughn as soon as possible.
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