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All-College Meeting, August 2014 - Barbara Korner, Dean

A week ago, I was having breakfast at a sidewalk cafĂ© in Budapest. Today, I’m pleased to be back with you, refreshed and reinvigorated, and looking forward to this time when we gather renewed energy from each other to make the new academic year an inspiring one for us and our students. We come together to celebrate our new beginnings, new people who have joined us in the college and University, a new administration headed by a relatively new provost and a brand-new president, and a new plan for the College of Arts and Architecture.

We are grateful that Provost Jones has carved out some time for us at the start of his busy day to share some thoughts about directions in the college and University. Provost Jones joined the Penn State faculty as our chief academic officer a year ago, coming from John Hopkins University, where he served as dean of engineering. He has proven himself to be an astute listener and creates an atmosphere of openness in working with deans, faculty, and other officers to address key issues and to foster participation in decision-making. He is committed to the planning process as a way to build on our common strengths, while we forge a new future of even greater prominence for Penn State as a strong force in higher education.


New Beginnings: State of the college, focusing on a new round of planning

Strategic planning often receives a “bad rap” in organizations. It can consume a lot of time and talk and there is often a sense that plans get filed and hauled out every few years when a cycle is over. And there is some truth to the opening line of a one-man show about a former prime minister of Great Britain—“You wanna know what makes God laugh? People planning!” Certainly, we have all learned at Penn State that plans can change abruptly and unexpectedly. Plans guide and direct, but life requires adapting and improvising. At its best, planning in an organization provides common directions and understood priorities and sets some deadlines for accomplishment. Leonard Bernstein once commented that “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.” Most of us have prepared for a gallery or concert opening, for presentation of a design to a client, for a publication deadline, and know the reality of that life observation.

In the College of Arts and Architecture, we have worked hard to make our planning a living process that drives budget and decision-making priorities in ways that can be understood by staff and faculty within the college. The spring of 2013 marked two important milestones for the College of Arts and Architecture—first, the close of the University’s 2008-13 strategic planning cycle and second, the fiftieth anniversary of the college’s founding in 1963. One person recently commented on one of our recent priorities, noting that we have moved from thinking about what it means to be a college focused on arts and design to acting like a college where that focus makes a difference. The 2014-19 planning period inaugurates the opening chapter in the college’s next phase of growth and development, building on the achievement of the immediate past as we look to the future.

In this opening meeting for the 2014 academic year, we celebrate our new beginnings together as a learning community of a public research university engaged in changing the world through our students as well as our own creative research. We celebrate new beginnings as a College of Arts and Architecture within Penn State, and today we want to focus on what we can achieve working together with a new president and provost, new people in our college, and new plan.

It’s important to celebrate our accomplishments so that we can all be encouraged as we set new goals for ourselves and our students.   

You in this room, the people of this college, are our greatest resource. In these gatherings we take a moment to recognize some singular accomplishments—University-wide and/or national/international awards and recognition for faculty, staff, and students. (During the meeting, faculty/staff and students were acknowledged in a PowerPoint slide show.)


Faculty/Staff Accomplishments

Brad Fisher received the University Staff Advisory Council Staff Recognition Award. He built university-wide software that allows staff to easily log in and add Recommended Academic Plans (RAPs) to one central website.

Mary Ann Stankiewicz was named National Art Educator of the Year

Denise Costanzo received the Rome Prize. This prize is awarded to just 30 emerging artists and scholars each year. Denise will spend 11 months at the American Academy in Rome. 

Susan Schulman was elected president of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, one of the most prominent and respected national labor unions in the industry.

Karen Keifer-Boyd won the NAEA Women's Caucus June King McFee Award in recognition of her scholarly writing, research, leadership, and service. 

Dick Bundy was named a 2013 Alumni Fellow, which is the highest award given by the Penn State Alumni Association—a very fitting honor for Dick, whose many supporters and fans will miss him when he retires at the end of this academic year.

Susan Russell was named Penn State Laureate and will spend the 2014–15 academic year visiting other Penn State campuses, where she will speak about how the languages of creativity can bridge communication gaps between diverse cultures and disciplines. Susan is the fourth College of Arts and Architecture faculty member to serve as laureate since the program was established in 2008.

Peter Aeschbacher won the Penn State President's Award for Engagement with Students. This award recognizes faculty members for their “special efforts to engage and encourage students in activities outside the classroom, as well as in academic endeavors."

Ute Poerschke won the Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching and was recognized as “an outstanding scholar, an inspiring teacher, an accomplished architect and an effective member of the college and university community.”

Wanda Knight is serving as Penn State Administrative Fellow and CIC Academic Leadership Program Fellow. She will work with Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones this year. 

Sound Design Professor Curtis Craig's work was exhibited at World Stage Design 2013. An exhibition finalist, Curtis was one of 117 designers—and only 17 from the United States—selected to exhibit his work. 

Norman Spivey assumed the presidency of NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing), the largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world, with more than 7,000 members worldwide.


Student Accomplishments

The M.F.A. Acting class of 2014 toured “Blood at the Root” to most Penn State campuses, as well as South Africa and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, sharing the story of six black teenagers charged with attempted murder in Jena, Louisiana. The play won a national award from the Kennedy Center, as well as Holden Street Theatres' Edinburgh Fringe Award.

Undergraduate music student Laura Brown was one of only five young scholars invited to present her research in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

SoVA student Samantha Bachman was one of only ten students nationwide selected for a prestigious $15,000 Windgate Fellowship, awarded by the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design in Asheville, North Carolina.

Art Education Ph.D. candidate Natalia Pilato received the Imagining America/Joy of Giving Something Award, awarded to only ten art students across the country.

Graduate architecture student Aaron Wertman designed "Apparatus X," a specially fitted recreational vehicle, to aid the ongoing rebuilding efforts in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. His project received national media coverage.

Photography student Jessica Paholsky won the Kopp International Achievement Award, which recognizes undergraduate students who have contributed significantly to the advancement of the international mission of the University.

SoVA student Andrew Reiff received the PGAV Destinations Spot Experiential Scholarship for his design of a water park. He plans to work in the themed entertainment industry as a 3D visualization artist.


Development Update

Though much of the great work reported in these instances is done with minimal financial support, we recognize that some additional financial support is required. We’ll talk a bit more about budget issues later today, but it is important to let you know that many of us have been involved in fundraising activities for the college and University. Without money, we really can’t support the work faculty and students do. Or as another dean colleague puts it: No money, no mission.

Many faculty and staff don’t feel directly or personally involved in our fundraising efforts, yet you are more than you realize. Without the very positive experiences that students have here and the excellent reputation of the educational quality and strong arts programming that continues, alumni and donors would not support our work.

Much of the focus of fundraising in this college is on program endowments, faculty support and scholarships for talented students. Many of you have heard me state that we recruit and compete on a national level for the most talented students—just as athletic teams do—and that we usually have at least one “heartbreak” story each year where a very talented student wants to come to Penn State, but a lesser institution wins out because they receive extraordinary support because of their talent. Though we have finished the University campaign, my commitment to continue to work on raising scholarship money for talented arts and design students does not stop. 

Our Success

Our goal was $100,000,000 (moved three times, nearly double the original $58,000,000 goal). University-wide, faculty and staff, including retirees, contributed more than $4,020,000 to the College of Arts and Architecture.

Program and faculty endowments have grown the most. Undergrad student aid has also grown. The numbers do not include use of reallocated revenue from World Campus.

Endowments and Named Annually Funded Accounts


Graduate student aid remains an issue for us, particularly in light of national and university focus on increasing competitive money for graduate students.Endowments and Named Annually Funded Accounts Created During the For the Future CampaignUnits Benefitting from New Program Endowments Created During For the Future Campaign

Units Benefitting from New Student Aid Endowments Created During For the Future CampaignHistory of Endowed Funds Awarded to Undergraduate and Graduate Students


Our new president and provost bring priorities that we have listened to and have worked to ensure we have the capacity to address in our planning efforts.

Provost Nick Jones' Strategic Planning Model

These themes provide a good framework for the CONTENT of our strategic plan and priorities for the University:

President Eric Barron's "Six Priorities"

President Barron’s “imperatives”—excellence, student engagement, diversity and demographics, student career success and economic development, accessibility, and technology—are issues that are drivers at the national and local level.

We have already taken some steps to address these national issues and priorities in our fields in higher education. For example, we hired Jonathan Gangi, our first professor of arts entrepreneurship, a burgeoning field of study in the arts that addresses the career development imperative. We have strong placement rates in our fields and we need to capture those and use them as part of our marketing and recruitment efforts.

Student engagement is in the DNA of what we do in the arts and we can provide leadership for the rest of the University in this area of pedagogy. Flipped classrooms have become the rage in pedagogical discussions and that’s what we have done for decades.

In working with faculty groups over several months, we have reorganized our technology area in the college with an orientation to creative research and teaching.

The associate deans, in their work, are also dedicated to advancing the agenda of placing our college in a leadership role locally and nationally, working with many of you and other offices throughout the University to accomplish shared goals. Andy Schulz, associate dean for research, and Gary Kesler, associate dean for academic affairs and outreach, will now share the work of their offices.

Andy Schulz's remarks

Gary Kesler's remarks

With our new strategic plan, we are setting priorities in budget and decision-making. This is our working document, the way we want to position ourselves. We need your feedback today as we shape the plan for the future.

Development of the plan started beginning of fall 2013, with groups of faculty from each unit in some half-day workshops at both college and unit levels. We had continued discussions throughout the year that have shaped the latest draft of the plan, which was due to the provost in June.

An important parameter in our planning is the college and units’ need to be revenue neutral—true on national and local level. Flat is the new up—we have flat state funding. There is a public focus on accessibility and accountability limits tuition increases.

There has been an historical “benevolent provost” model at Penn State.

World Campus and summer session are the only source of new revenue. The College of Arts and Architecture needs to expand its portfolio beyond General Education. Some areas are working on this: for example, the MPS in Art Education and future MPS in GeoDesign, and the undergraduate combined degree in digital arts and media with the School of Visual Arts and College of Communications.

There are concerns about declining enrollments in some areas, particularly if the University moves to some form of RCM budget model. Additionally, declining enrollments do not send positive messages about the strength of our programs.

We are currently working with unit heads and the finance office to do longer-term budget plans so we aren’t just primarily living off of temporary funds. We are also addressing graduate student issues by moving stipends up, based on national focus as well as on local strong activism.

Another important aspect of our strategic planning, in sync with the University, is attention to the values that we share as a community. Our choices in daily interactions create the culture for each other and for our students in the college. Through intensive work across all campuses for the past two years, involving as many faculty, staff, students, and alumni as possible, the University committee working on this project has come up with the following main value statements for all of us as members of the Penn State community.

Penn State Values

Leadership is the ability to influence others. We all serve as leaders in our interactions in the academy. As teachers in a classroom and as members in a shared governance committee process, we take on a larger leadership responsibility when our choices affect more people.

Though personal values often differ, it is important to have a sense of basic shared values within any organization, and we want to spend some time discussing values today as well. Our own planning process has involved much discussion at unit level and asking those at the unit level to participate at the college level.

We want to go from Good to Great with our “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”: Making the Arts and Design Central at Penn State  

Making the Arts and Design Central at Penn State

Our goal for 2019 is to ensure that the arts and design disciplines become, and are recognized as, core elements of the Penn State identity and experience. Indicators of our success in reaching this goal will include:  

  • Our research and creative practice is, and is recognized as, central to the Penn State research mission, valued for both its intrinsic merit and its significant role in University-wide collaborations and initiatives.
  • Our courses and academic programs—in our disciplines and in the University’s General Education curriculum—are, and are viewed as, models of pedagogical excellence and innovation at Penn State and beyond.
  • Students—regardless of major or program of study—identify “the arts” as influencing their decision to attend Penn State, and upon graduation understand arts experiences as having helped prepare them to succeed in their chosen careers and to be educated, humane citizens. 

Supporting Goals

  • Create transformative experiences for students.
  • Engage communities through research, curricula, and arts presentations.
  • Lead in technology in arts and design disciplines.
  • Maximize the visibility of the arts and design at Penn State and beyond.

We have been discussing how we might approach maximizing the visibility of the arts and design at Penn State and beyond:  for example, revisiting the college’s name (consider Arts and Design) and/or using our own faculty ideas to create a more exciting visual awareness of the arts district.

Rendering of Proposed Eisenhower Auditorium Expansion/Renovation

Proposed "Arts District" Signage for Theatre Building

Our strategic plan sets priorities and drives decisions—in budget and personnel. As Bernstein said, to achieve great things, we need a plan and not enough time. The plan has to have an impact on what we do individually as part of this larger organization. Spend time today considering what will be the evidence that we as a large team are accomplishing the goals and living out the values in our daily interactions with one another.

Jonas Mekas, the acclaimed Lithuanian filmmaker who survived the Nazi regime, stated, “In the end, civilizations perish because they listen to their politicians and not to their poets.” This round of planning calls us as artists and designers to make sure that our voice is heard and that people understand both the intrinsic value of the arts as well as their value-added aspect in a public research university. We are the only ones who can tell that story and it will take all of us in this room working together (and influencing colleagues who are not here) to help achieve the lofty goal we have set in this plan.

Everyone is a leader. Penn State is a place where we can and should be leaders and create an environment for our students to be leaders. Creativity takes courage and we can exhibit that courage in our classrooms, in our offices, in our interactions with each other, in our performance and design studios and labs. Thank you for being people of courage and for your willingness to consider the ways that we can make our plan a guiding force for our community in the next few years.