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Penn State Plays Key Role in Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities

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Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities

Penn State will host the inaugural symposium of a2ru — Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities — March 13–15 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. Penn State is one of 28 founding partners of the alliance, whose goal is to guide university leaders in knowledgeably integrating arts practices for the greatest benefits of their institutions.

Barbara Korner, dean of the College of Arts and Architecture, is co-chair of a2ru’s Planning Committee and host of the symposium, which is also supported by Penn State’s Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research and The Graduate School. According to Korner, Penn State’s involvement in a2ru builds on the University’s strength in fostering collaboration across disciplinary boundaries as a way to address complex global issues. The College of Engineering and College of Information Sciences and Technology are also founding partners of the new alliance.

a2ru received a $500,000, 3.5-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create the first comprehensive guide to best practices in the integration of arts practice in U.S. research universities. Penn State is one of 11 universities to be featured in the guide, to be published in fall 2015.  Dr. Bruce Mackh, director of the Mellon Foundation Research Project for a2ru, is visiting with Penn State administrators this week and attending the symposium. In addition to Penn State, universities that will be featured in the guide include Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Stanford, University of California at Berkeley, University of Colorado, University of Florida, University of Michigan, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Washington University.  

The purpose of the current symposium is to promote research exploring new ways to evaluate, construct and advance high-impact creative work, research and teaching involving arts and design practice and other disciplines. Speakers from Penn State will include Hank Foley, vice president for research and dean of The Graduate School; Graeme Sullivan, director of the School of Visual Arts; Chris Staley, Distinguished Professor of Ceramic Arts and Penn State Laureate; and David Hall, dean of the College of Information Sciences and Technology.

The symposium was designed to accomplish three specific outcomes: clarify research questions raised by integrated research, creative work and teaching; enhance communications and problem-solving across partner universities about shared work; and expand interdisciplinary ownership of the national initiative at partner institutions.

a2ru was founded in fall 2012. The alliance grew out of a “Michigan Meeting” held in Ann Arbor May 4–6, 2011, titled “The Role of Art-Making and the Arts in the Research University.” Sponsored by the University of Michigan’s ArtsEngine initiative, the meeting convened 150 presidents, provosts, deans, directors and other leaders from 43 Research I universities across the United States. Founding partners have committed time, energy and funds to the development of the alliance because they understand the role of the arts and design in making their institutions more vital, dynamic, creative and competitive.

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