There is a vibrancy in the halls of the creative arts at SIU. It is the palpable presence of the new College of Arts and Media. “The artistic practice and its attendant creative processes are what I’d like to see our faculty and students exploring,” says the inaugural interim dean, Segun Ojewuyi. The exhilaration of teaching, learning and making art is the college’s major contribution to the renewed vision of the university.
The new college, formed July 1, houses six academic units where scholarship blends with the arts. These are the Schools of Arts and Design, Architecture, Music, Media Arts, Journalism as well as Theater and Dance. The college was proposed by faculty from seven different departments and schools in three different colleges. “This new college,” according to Dean Ojewuyi, “is the creative hub of the Carbondale campus, if not the entire SIU System.” The vibrancy and innovation within the college, both in creative and scholarly work, come in the form of a curriculum re-visioning that encourages interdisciplinarity and prepares its graduates for the creative industry of their time.
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In fact, the cross-pollination has already begun. For instance, this semester, art history students worked with media arts students to study and create performances. At the same time, interior design faculty are discussing crossover courses with the art and design faculty, with the purpose of creating a cross-disciplinary design degree. Bridging colleges is the development of the creative writing program’s Digital Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Arts and Media. This unique partnership includes students and faculty from the two colleges, working to provide a 21st century education. The School of Theater and Dance is getting ready for the first ever livestream of its production “Lucky Stiff” in the Spring, even as it continues to build on its collaboration with the School of Music and Carbondale Community Arts for a revival of the McLeod Summer Playhouse. The Daily Egyptian in the School of Journalism continues to expand its circulation by more than 200% this semester.
The new College of Arts and Media (called CAM, for short) is the most holistic arts and media college of all the Illinois state universities. “We are a gem in the state as a whole, but especially in the region — which includes Kentucky, Missouri and Indiana,” posits CAM Associate Dean H.D. Motyl, “What we offer in the classroom combined with the hands-on, practical experience outside the classroom, makes an education in our new college a singular experience.”
Now, we are keen to get the word out to prospective students — tomorrow’s artists, writers, producers and actors — about the valuable education that is offered by CAM. We are reaching out to the world of friends, alumni and generous collaborators for help with sustaining our vision. These efforts are beginning to bear fruit as evidenced by a major gift to the School of Art and Design by a generous donor.
The faculty and students are preparing for the first ever CAM Festival of Arts and Ideas, which will showcase the talent of our faculty, students and staff to the regional community and the world.
We strive to provide our CAM students a more holistic arts and media education through the synergy of interrelated programs that have come together in the new college. We will prepare them to not only face the challenges of the 21st century but to conquer them, creatively and innovatively.
Meera Komarraju is provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
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