As Michigan State University develops a coordinated approach to an Arts Strategy that would place the arts at the heart of the University’s land-grant mission, the College of Arts & Letters must take a proactive leadership role in shaping the engaged university of the 21st century. The arts offer creative ways of knowing that are integral to the mission of the University, both in themselves and in reciprocal connection with scientific, humanistic, and professional practices.
The College has established the Dean’s Arts Advisory Council (DAAC) to advise the Dean on Arts Initiatives, to elevate the profile of the arts, and to integrate the arts into the research mission of the university through strategic collaboration.
Our efforts are inspired by a passage from the 2008 Harvard Task Force on the Arts report, which recognized that a 21st century research university should:
“… make the arts an integral part of the cognitive life of the university: for along with the sciences and the humanities, the arts—as they are both experienced and practiced—are irreplaceable instruments of knowledge.”
To this end, we continue the open and exciting re-visioning process in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD) that began two years ago, including the re-opening of a restructured MFA program in AAHD that empowers students of diverse backgrounds to identify individualized pathways that focus on themes like Arts, Science, and Technology or Design, Culture, and Identity. We approved a national search for a new Chair of the Department of Theatre who will be able to advance the Department’s signature initiatives in entrepreneurship and in the creation of innovative sensory-friendly performances for neurodiverse audiences. Our efforts in the Arts have been aligned with the three core values of equity, openness, and community as indicated, for example, by our Critical Race Studies Artist Residency program in AAHD, and in Theatre, by our multi-sensory theatrical performances.
The Deans Arts Advisory Council has begun to gather feedback from across the College to identify initiatives connected with its charge, and is considering ways to facilitate collaboration through curriculum development, collaborative grants, strategic social gatherings across the arts, and support for student access to experiences in the arts. A key focus on the College in regard to the arts is to drive the adoption of the MSU Arts Strategy’s bold vision of a 21st Century Arts corridor that would require renovations of the Kresge Building and the MSU Auditorium to create world-class facilities to match the world-class faculty in the arts.