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Message from the Dean: July 2018

Earlier this summer, I had the honor of hosting a Penn State Alumni Association tour of Ireland, including stops in Ennis, Killarney, Mallow, and Dublin. Touring such a beautiful country in the company of Penn Staters was an experience I will treasure, especially as I enter my last year as dean of the College of Arts and Architecture.

Announcing one’s retirement is bittersweet (see announcement here). As I look ahead to the coming months, I’m excited about the opportunity to continue to build on the relationships I have established with alumni and friends over the past decade. My goal is to leave the College of Arts and Architecture in the best possible shape for the next dean. The next few months will be a time of building up, rather than winding down.

One of those "build up" projects is the School of Music’s new recital hall, set to open this fall. This beautiful facility will serve as both a centerpiece of the Arts District and an “acoustically ideal” venue for both performers and patrons. Watch for more details on special events to be held in conjunction with the opening of the hall.

In academia, the "new" year begins in August, and we are excited about what’s in store. In addition to the premiere concerts in the new recital hall, both the Center for the Performing Arts and School of Theatre have diverse and entertaining seasons scheduled. With a theme of "I Am Woman," CPA’s season is highlighted by a six-show run of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical in February (see the complete season schedule at The School of Theatre, under the leadership of new director Rick Lombardo, will kick off its season with Legally Blonde in October (see the full season at, and read about Rick here).

Rick Lombardo is not the only new face in the Arts District. We will soon welcome another new administrator, Cassie Mansfield, as the new head of the Department of Art History (read more here). And we will say goodbye to Andy Schulz, who for the past five years served as our associate dean for research and, for the past year, interim head of the Department of Art History. We wish him well as he assumes his new position of dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Arizona.  

If you’ll be on campus later this summer or early this fall, I urge you to make a stop at the Arboretum to see the plastic sculpture installation by Aurora Robson, one of the artists featured in the hugely popular Plastic Entanglements exhibition at the Palmer earlier this year. Her whimsical sculptures created with plastic intercepted from Penn State’s waste stream have been a fun and thought-provoking addition at the Arboretum for guests of all ages. Gravity Schmavity: Repurposed Plastic Sculptureby Aurora Robsonwill be on display through October 29.

I hope you enjoy the last few weeks of summer and I look forward to seeing you at one of our events soon.