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Arts Division Retreat Looks at What’s Next, Now

Arts Division Retreat, January 2017

On Friday, January 6, 2017 Dean Susan Solt held her inaugural Arts Division retreat with an engaging theme of What’s Next, Now!

Dean Susan Solt

The Dean shared her vision that includes the importance of community and culture. “As we think about our students and their future, I hope we all feel dedicated to the community we have created together here, and will create in the years ahead,” she said. “I look forward to the work we will continue to roll out in the coming quarters, including: continuing the Dean’s Mentoring Program, and the Arts Dean’s Student Leadership Board.”

Dean Solt also emphasized her deep appreciation of the faculty, and specifically thanked the staff for taking on increased workloads, noting how impressed she’s been by their expertise and dedication.

UC Santa Cruz’s Chancellor Blumenthal joined the event to celebrate the Arts Division’s many successes and expressed his confidence in the Dean’s leadership and goals. In particular, he noted warmly that Dean Solt has what he calls the four V’s: vision, values, vigor, and visibility.

Chancellor Blumenthal

Highlights of the retreat included a moving reading of the poem Pablo Pueblo, 2016 by UC Santa Cruz literature major, Alex Perez, who had previously performed his piece at the Rainbow Theater Production of Poet’s Corner that the Dean had attended.

Of the inspiring work, Dean Solt remarked how much the poem had impressed her. “I hope this piece will motivate us, or at least get us thinking around issues of inclusion and standing up for what we believe.”

Next up, was a beautiful baroque violin performance by music major Ben Dorsey and his mentor, Associate Professor Nina Treadwell, accompanying him on baroque guitar. “This highlights an example of the amazing collaborations that are possible between faculty and undergraduates here in the Arts,” commented Dean Solt.

Arts Division Retreat, January 2017

Title IX Director Tracey Tsugawa was also invited by Dean Solt to join the retreat for an insightful discussion on how the Arts Division will be a leader on campus in changing the dialogue around critical Title IX issues.

Five new Arts Division faculty members each gave thought-provoking presentations about their work: Elizabeth Swensen, Assistant Professor Art and Design: Games and Playable Media; Edward Shanken, Associate Professor and Director of the Digital Arts and New Media Program,; Kyle Parry, Assistant Professor in History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC); Karolina Karlic, Assistant Professor of Art; and Cynthia Ling Lee, Assistant Professor Theater Arts.

Cynthia Ling Lee, Assistant Professor Theater Arts

The Dean announced many new exciting developments in the Arts Division, including a major proposal to the UC Office of the President for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, which has been very well received and is moving forward with significant funding for the Arts Division’s Internship for Creative Entrepreneurship (ICE).

“This is an incredible recognition for the Arts and validates how we are transforming the lives of our students and are contributing in essential ways to the economy of our state and nation,” observed the Dean.

The 2016 Arts Division awards were also announced:

Arts Advocate Award: Erica Di Bona, Development Consultant (Los Angeles)

Outstanding Lecturer Award: Kyle McKinley, Art Department

Outstanding Teacher Award: Associate Professor Dee Hibbert-Jones, Art Department

Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award: Associate Professor, Brandin Baron-Nusbaum, Theater Arts Department

Outstanding Staff Award: Scotty Brookie, IT Director, ITS Divisional Liaison to the Arts, Webmaster

Outstanding Divisional Staff Award: Bennett Williamson, Arts & Design: Games & Playable Media (AGPM) Undergraduate Advisor, Digital Art and New Media Program Assistant; and also to Felicia Rice, Program Manager, Digital Art and New Media

Outstanding Departmental Staff Award: Susan Gautieri, Music Center Facilities Manager; also to Meredith Dyer, Department Manager, History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC)

Dean Solt expressed thanks to the following local sponsors and service providers who helped to support the retreat: Soif Restaurant  & Wine Bar, Ferrari Florist and Gifts, Palace Art & Office Supply, Tea House Spa, Flourish: Grow in Health, St. John’s Organics, UC Catering, and UC Santa Cruz Bay Tree Bookstore.

The daylong event ended with a lively gathering in the Digital Arts Research Center for conversation, scrumptious desserts, raffle prizes, and thoughtful insights.

“We need to create leadership in the Arts Division that is respectful, that addresses questions of plenary authority, that does not abrogate academic freedom for individuals – that is about respect and collegiality even when opinions and even pedagogies differ,” said Dean Solt. “What’s Next, Now?” I hope an opportunity to reaffirm what it is we care most about.”


All photos by Julie Rogge