Update from an Alumna in Academic Affairs

December 19th, 2013 by Guest Blogger
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Every faculty and staff serve a Thanksgiving feast to students.

Each year it is tradition for faculty and staff to serve a Thanksgiving feast to students.

By Julie Taggart

It’s Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, and a long-running tradition is underway—the Thanksgiving meal with the CCAD family. Stewart McKissick is wearing a chef’s hat and standing alongside other faculty and staff, similarly donned, and serving lunch to students excited to have a holiday meal with everyone on campus.

Stewart, chair of Illustration, is an alumnus from the class of 1979. He has been employed at CCAD since the ’80s. This past year Stew has shepherded more change for Illustration and the institution than in any past year.

Illustration has been housed in Circle Hall on Grant Avenue for more than 10 years. Last summer the program moved into the centrally located Kinney Hall, formerly known as V-Hall. Along with a new home and new equipment—20 Cintiq monitors—Illustration has several new faculty and a new curriculum that will launch in 2014. Illustration is not alone; changes are happening in every corner of campus and in every program.

In 2011 Kevin Conlon arrived at CCAD as vice president of Academic Affairs. Conlon, now provost, set a course for the college that has resulted in two distinct schools, the School of Studio Arts and the School of Design Arts, a new curriculum architecture with an emphasis on business skills, and new relationships with industry, community, and a variety of academic partners.

The two-school model divides the student body equally with three majors in Studio Art (Illustration, Fine Arts, and Photography) and six majors in Design Arts (Advertising & Graphic Design, Animation, Cinematic Arts, Fashion Design, Industrial Design, and Interior Design).

Not only does this model balance student enrollment, it complements the employment trends in the majors allowing for specialized professional practice content within each school. Studio artists are more likely to be entrepreneurial while designers tend to be more industry-oriented. Each will benefit from more formal business training that will take place in the newly formed Collaborative Core.

Conlon, with a penchant for Venn diagrams and an interest in maintaining cross-disciplinary courses, depicted an intersection of the two schools that houses a new academic unit, the Collaborative Core.

CORE, as it’s being called, houses the first-year program, Liberal Arts, business classes, experiential learning opportunities, and other studio courses that focus on collaboration and bring a mix of majors together.

This might bring back memories of Design II and Design III, but that is just the beginning of the kind of content you will find in CORE. Students will have CORE classes that will take place in the MindMarket with industry clients or that will take place in the community with projects in social practice. All will provide practicum experiences to better prepare students for careers in the creative economy.

Each program has taken the general framework of the curriculum architecture and adapted it to the needs of the major while adhering to the requirements of our accreditors.

Over the last year 132 new courses have been proposed by 73 full- and part-time faculty members. Some of the most exciting new courses are integrated classes that combine liberal arts material with art/design studio content. The new Fine Arts curriculum includes several integrated classes including a six-credit, junior-level class that combines the criticism of literature and art with intensive studio time. The class will be team taught with a faculty member from literature and a Fine Arts faculty member. Similarly, Illustration majors will have an opportunity to take a class called Graphic Novels and Narrative Illustration that combines pictorial development with lessons in narrative writing. Photography will have a class that combines the history of photography and traditional darkroom practices.

Liberal Arts has not only collaborated on integrated classes, but has also created many specialized courses for the majors. There is a Human Factors class being developed for Industrial and Interior Design students. Comparative Anatomy is being developed for Illustration and Animation students. And the long-running literary magazine Botticelli is now the focus of a class on literary publishing. Liberal Arts is also developing a major in the History of Visual Arts and Culture which will combine art history and fine arts study with an emphasis on art theory or curatorial practice.

There are more changes that I could go into with detail, but the cool thing is that they occur with long-held traditions like the Thanksgiving celebration, Botticelli, the Senior Fashion Show, and the student exhibition. It’s also exciting to see the work being done by veteran faculty like Stew McKissick, Ron Saks, and Tim Rietenbach alongside new faculty like Laurenn McCubbin, Shannon Benine, and Michele Hill.

The only constant is change, and we have plenty of it. As a school of art and design doesn’t it make sense that we are a destination for change?

Julie Taggart (class of 1991) is the dean of the School of Studio Arts.

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