The beginning of a new semester is always an exciting time. Students, faculty, and staff return with excitement and expectations for success. Faculty had the opportunity to catch up on their research plans, staff could catch up on some projects, and students had a break from classes (although many worked extra hours at jobs). Walking around campus, you can sense the positive energy of students as they find their classes on the first few days of Spring semester.
While nearly 100 of our students graduated in the December Commencement, 70 new students transferred into our programs at CSUB over the Winter break. We currently have more than 1,000 students majoring in the academic programs in the School of Arts & Humanities at California State University, Bakersfield.
During this last Winter Session, the School of Arts & Humanities successfully offered ten courses to a total of 110 students. This is a 60% increase in the number of students served by A&H courses from last year’s Winter Session.
In addition to our excellent range of classes, the School of Arts & Humanities at CSUB offers many opportunities for education and experiences outside the classroom. While you can see announcements about these possibilities on the CSUB “Arts & Humanities Alive” blog (csubaha.com), I would like to point out a few upcoming events in the initial weeks of the semester. On February 21, the History Department’s History Forum series will host our own Dr. Sean Wempe speaking on "Revenants of the German Empire: Colonial Germans, Imperialism, and the League of Nations." On March 19, the English Department’s Lecture in Language and Linguistics Series (L3) will host Dr. Sarah Benor (Contemporary Jewish Studies at Hebrew Union College and adjunct professor at the University of Southern California) who will speak on "Ethnolinguistic infusion: A New Approach to Language Reclamation." The Philosophy & Religious Studies Department will host their annual Undergraduate Conference in April. Also in April, Wendy Ortiz will be giving a reading at the Walter Stiern Library as part of the California Writers Series.
The School also has several Art, Music, and Theatre events scheduled for the Spring semester. On February 13th, the Art & Art History Department’s Dorothy Florence Zaninovich Visiting Artist Lecture Series will host our own Jedediah Caesar who will speak on “Found Spaces: Sculptures from 2000 to now.” There will also be several presentations later in the semester at the Todd Madigan Gallery and from other Visiting Artists. The Music program has an array of concerts scheduled for the Spring semester. I am also looking forward to the Theatre Program’s production of “The Who’s Tommy” in March (one of my favorite albums!). I thank our alumni and community partners for their donations to the School of Arts & Humanities through the CSUB Foundation that help support our programs. I anticipate a successful Spring semester for our students!
We have had a full and exciting Fall semester at CSUB!
The end of a semester is always an exciting (though sometimes stressful) time. Students are taking finals and finishing papers. Faculty are giving finals and grading various assignments. Staff are busy trying to tie everything together so the semester can end smoothly.
We can look back on a successful semester in the School of Arts & Humanities. We had great art exhibitions as well as music and theatre performances. We also had intriguing guest artists, musicians, and speakers. For a look at upcoming events, be sure to check the Events Calendar.
This week will see a Fall Commencement ceremony on December 11th at the Mechanics Bank Arena (formerly Rabobank Arena) in downtown Bakersfield. Commencement is always a great event and brings a sense of accomplishment to the graduating seniors. We will have many of our students from our diverse majors participating as well as graduate students receiving their degrees.
I would like to thank the faculty, students, and staff for another great semester. I also thank our friends and partners in the community (for support opportunities, visit CSUB A&H Friends).
I look forward to a great Spring semester!
You can sense the positive energy of students as they walk around campus finding their classes on the first days of Fall semester 2019!
I have always found the beginning of an academic year to be an exciting and optimistic time. Most students have had a break from classes for some time and are looking forward to starting or resuming their studies and connecting with friends on campus. Faculty members had the opportunity to engage in research and creative activity as well as reflect on their classes and contemplate changes over the course of the summer. And our Staff had the opportunity to catch up with projects and to reflect on how to proceed with other projects and processes in a slightly less hectic environment.
We had a busy and successful 2018/2019 Academic Year with an array of art exhibitions, musical concerts, and theatrical performances as well as student participation in conferences in several disciplines. And a large number of our students graduated. The 2019/2020 Academic Year will no doubt be equally busy. We have a growing number of students at CSUB in general and an increase in the number of students majoring in programs in the School of Arts & Humanities.
In addition to our excellent range of classes, the School of Arts & Humanities at CSUB offers many opportunities for education, research, and experiences outside the classroom. You can see a range of these in the Events Calendar on the CSUB “Arts & Humanities Alive” blog. The School also has several Art, Music, and Theatre events scheduled for the Fall semester.
I thank our alumni and community partners for their donations to the School of Arts & Humanities through the CSUB Foundation that help support our programs. I especially appreciate the work of our Executive Advisory Council.
I continue to be excited to have the opportunity of working with you all. Good luck to everyone this academic year!
Another Academic Year Ends!
The end of the Spring semester was naturally busy with students taking finals and finishing papers, faculty giving finals and grading, and staff trying to tie everything together so the semester (and academic year) can end smoothly. The 2018/2019 Academic Year proved to be another successful year in the School of Arts & Humanities. A growing number of students declared majors in the programs in our School. We had great art exhibitions and music and theatre performances. There was a substantial increase in the number of undergraduate research presentations by Arts & Humanities students.
We saw many students inducted into honor societies in their disciplines. We also had students inducted into Alpha Chi (the national honorary society for all majors) and, of course, an impressive group of seniors won awards at the Arts & Humanities Honors Convocation. Commencement is always a great event, and brings a sense of accomplishment to the graduating seniors. Many are on their way to careers and graduate programs.
I would like to thank the faculty, students, and staff for all their work for another great year.
Here is looking forward to next year!
You can sense the positive energy of students as they walk around campus finding their classes on the first day of Spring semester.
The beginning of a new semester is always an exciting time. Students, faculty, and staff return with excitement and expectations for success. Faculty had the opportunity to catch up on their research plans, staff could catch up on some projects, and students had a break from classes (although many worked extra hours at jobs).
In addition to our excellent range of classes, the School of Arts & Humanities at CSUB offers many opportunities for education and experiences outside the classroom. While you can see a range of these in the Events Calendar on the CSUB “Arts & Humanities Alive” blog (csubaha.com), I would like to point out a few upcoming events in the initial weeks of the semester. For instance, the Philosophy and Religious Studies Colloquia Series will host Dr. Christopher Key Chapple who will give a talk on “Asian Religious Environmentalism" on February 8th. On Feb. 22nd the History Department’s History Forum series will host Prof. Kevin Dawson of UC Merced, who will be speaking about his recent book Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Cultures in the African Diaspora (University of Pennsylvania Press: 2018). Also, on March 14th, the English Department’s Lecture in Language and Linguistics Series (L3) will host UC Santa Barbara Professor Dr. Eric Campbell, who will talk about “Pig Latin and other Play Languages.”
The School also has several Art, Music, and Theatre events scheduled for the Spring semester. On January 31st, the Art & Art History Department will host a public opening reception for an art exhibit entitled “Entre Tinta y Lucha: 45 Years of Self Help Graphics & Art” at the Todd Madigan Gallery. There will also be several presentations later in the semester in the Visiting Lecture Artists series.
I am also looking forward to the Theatre Program’s production of “Harvey” in March (I was hoping to be cast as Harvey). In early April, “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” will be performed as one of our “Theatre for Young Audiences” productions.
I thank our alumni and community partners for their donations to the School of Arts & Humanities through the CSUB Foundation that help support our programs. I anticipate a successful Spring semester for our students!
We have passed the halfway point of our busy Fall semester!
It is exciting that CSUB currently has a growing number of Arts & Humanities majors (the largest overall total in seven years). In addition to our large array of classes, we have a full range of cultural, social, and athletic events at CSUB. In the last month, we have had visiting artists, speakers, and a World War I conference. We also had a great turn out for our “Taste of the Arts” event that showcased some of the great work our students are doing in Art, Music, & Theatre. In the coming weeks, we will have several concerts, another Visiting Artist, a World War I poetry event, and our Theatre program’s production of A. R. Gurney’s “The Dining Room.”
Go to our “Event Calendar” (by clicking above) and see what’s coming up next in the School of Arts & Humanities at CSUB!
Keep up the good work!
I have always found the beginning of an academic year to be an exciting and optimistic time. Students have had a break from classes and are looking forward to resuming their studies and connecting with friends on campus. Faculty members were able to engage in research and creative activity as well as reflect on their classes and contemplate changes over the course of the summer. And our Staff had the opportunity to catch up with projects and to reflect on how to proceed with other projects and processes in a slightly less hectic environment.
We had a busy 2017/2018 Academic Year with our transition to the new Humanities Office Building, an array of art exhibitions, musical concerts, and theatrical performances as well as student conferences in several disciplines. Of course, this was a busy year for me as it was my first year as a Dean here at CSUB, and I greatly enjoyed getting to know the faculty and staff and learning of our successes (and the challenges that we still need to overcome). Most importantly, we saw a large number of students graduate from our programs last May.
The 2018/2019 Academic Year will no doubt be equally busy. We have a growing number of students at CSUB and several new faculty members. We will have an array of art, music, and theatre events throughout the course of the year as well as undergraduate research opportunities in all our disciplines.
I continue to be excited to have the opportunity of working with you all. Good luck to everyone this academic year!
The end of Spring semester is always an exciting (though often stressful) time. Students are taking finals and finishing papers. Faculty are giving finals and grading. Staff are busy trying to tie everything together so the semester (and academic year) can end smoothly.
We can look back on a successful year in the School of Arts & Humanities. We had great art exhibitions, music and theatre performances, and undergraduate research conferences. We also had intriguing guest artists, musicians, and speakers. We saw many students inducted into honor societies in their disciplines. We also had students inducted into Alpha Chi (the national honorary society for all majors) and, of course, an impressive group of seniors won awards at our Honors Convocation.
And, of course, Commencement is always a great event, and brings a sense of accomplishment (and perhaps uncertainty) to the graduating seniors. I can remember well-meaning people asking me what I was going to do as I was heading toward commencement (back in 1984). Of course, I didn’t know what I was going to do (and felt a fair amount of concern about that!). Now, looking back, I wish I had welcomed and enjoyed the journey more.
I would like to thank the faculty, students, and staff for a great first year as Dean of the School of Arts & Humanities and I look forward to next year!
Welcome to Spring Semester!
The beginning of a new semester is always an exciting time. Students, faculty, and staff are all returning with excitement, plans, and expectations for success. Faculty had the opportunity to conduct research and, possibly, present papers during the break, staff could catch up on multiple projects, and students had a break from classes (although many worked extra hours at jobs).
In addition to our excellent range of classes, the School of Arts & Humanities at CSUB offers many opportunities for education and experiences outside the classroom. While you can see a range of these in the Events Calendar on the CSUB “Arts & Humanities Alive” blog, I would like to point out a few upcoming events in the initial weeks of the semester. For instance, the Public History Institute, the Walter Stiern Library, and the Kegley Institute of Ethics will co-host a panel on "Executive Order 9066: The History, Legacy, and Lessons of Japanese Internment" on January 30 in the Dezember Reading Room at the Walter Stiern Library. Also, on February 9, UC Santa Barbara Research Professor Emeritus Dr. Harold Drake will present a talk entitled “A Century of Miracles: How Life Changed for Christians, Pagans and Jews Between 312 and 410" in the Dezember Reading Room (co-sponsored by History Forum and the Walter Stiern Library).
The School also has several Art, Music, and Theatre events scheduled for the Spring semester. In February and March, the Art & Art History Department will host an art exhibit entitled “Collapsing Stage, The” with works by several visiting artists in the Todd Madigan Gallery. I am also looking forward to the Theatre Program’s production of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” in March.
I thank our alumni and community partners for their donations to the School of Arts & Humanities through the CSUB Foundation that help support our programs. I anticipate a successful Spring semester for our students!
The Rhythm of the Semester
As I write this, the last piece of furniture is being assembled for my office in the new Humanities Building. The dust will be settling soon on the move into our great new building. Students are finding their professors’ offices and academic life in the School of Arts and Humanities is starting to hit a rhythm.
I can remember both as a student and as a professor the point of the semester where everything felt like it was starting to come together and find a balance. Usually by the end of the 5th week, that point emerged. Of course, for some classes that means an exam was coming soon, so duration of time alone does not make a class approachable and manageable! Rather, that balance is the result of good planning and sustained focus and effort.
In addition to classes, we have a full range of cultural, social, and athletic events at CSUB. Last week, I had one evening with four different (unfortunately competing) options. Rebecca has developed a calendar feature on this blog (logically called “Event Calendar”), so it is easy to find events in the Arts and Humanities at CSUB.
A great way to sample some of our offerings is the “Taste of the Arts” on Oct. 15th. Organized by the Departments of Art & Art History and Music & Theatre, this event offers sampling of some of the great work our students are doing.
Keep up the good work!
The beginning of an academic year is always an exciting time. Most of the students have had a break from classes for the summer and are looking forward to resuming their studies and connecting with friends on campus. Faculty have had time to reflect on their classes as well as the opportunity to engage in research and creative activity and are looking forward to a new academic year. Staff have had the summer to catch up with projects and to reflect on how to proceed with other projects and processes in a slightly less hectic environment.
I have always found the beginning of the Fall semester my favorite time of the academic year.
Of course, the School of Arts and Humanities (and the university as a whole) had a beginning last year with the shift from quarters to semesters and the new General Education program. Faculty members will naturally still be in the process of revising courses in their teaching portfolio through at least this year as a result of this shift.
The beginning of this academic year is especially exciting because of the construction of the new Humanities Office Building (or “HOB” as some are affectionately calling it). Faculty, staff, and students are all no doubt curious as to how that will look in terms of faculty offices and the Student Center and how the School can thrive with this new building.
This is also a beginning for me as Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at CSUB. A native Southern Californian, I have spent the last 26 years of my career at a regional state university in Pennsylvania. I have deep interests in all the disciplines in our school and I am very excited to have the opportunity of working with you all.
Good luck to everyone this academic year!
This past weekend, my son was invited to an end-of-year celebration for his elementary school drama club. The invitation encouraged students to dress up. As a new member of the club this year, my son arrived in spiffy dress pants and a yellow polo shirt, only to find a throng of girls in fancy gowns and boys with sports jackets and bow ties. They were awaiting to walk the red carpet! Even elementary school kids know the red carpet is something special.
For me, our special season at CSU, Bakersfield begins with my red regalia. Donning the PhD robe to induct students into Alpha Chi, a national honors society, and to recognize our two-year and four-year Helen Hawk Honors Program graduates, is the first of many recognition ceremonies in the last month of the academic year.
We are particularly proud of the amazing students celebrated this year at the School of Arts and Humanities Honors Convocation.
Outstanding Visual Arts Project
Joyce Kohl, Nominating Faculty
Outstanding Performing Arts Project
Soo-Yeon Park, Nominating Faculty
Outstanding Humanities Paper
Doug Dodd, Nominating Faculty
Departmental Outstanding MA Graduates
Kim Kartinen History
Mario Nunez Spanish
Departmental Outstanding BA Graduates
Julissa Cardenas Art & Art History
Maria Rodriguez Ornelas Communications
Heather Simmons English
Daniel Kirk History
Jennifer Valencia Interdisciplinary Studies
Maria Rodriguez Ornelas Modern Languages & Literatures
Courtney Sangis Music
Scott Gregory Heilman Philosophy
Sharon Whealy Religious Studies
Anthony Salvador Jauregui IV Theatre
Outstanding BA Graduate of the School of Arts and Humanities
Maria Rodriguez Ornelas
Additional commencement-season (regalia season!) events include Roadrunner Society, Antelope Valley Grad Reception, Lavender Celebration, Black Student Recognition, M.E.Ch.A Chicano Reception, and (the grand finale!) Graduate Hooding and Undergraduate Commencement. Each ceremony marks a moment of celebration, recognition, and transition. There is plenty to celebrate. The successful conclusion of years of dedication to mastering foundational skills, course content, ways of knowing, and habits of being, have equipped graduates for the next stage in their life journey.
I’d like to conclude this post with a few words directly to our soon-to-be graduates. First, I hope you take the time to celebrate your accomplishments with friends and family. Our record number of RSVPs for commencement suggest many of you are willing and ready to rejoice! Second, although we are all here to celebrate you, I hope you recognize that you have not achieved this milestone on your own. Friends, family, faculty, and staff have all labored to create these opportunities for your success. I encourage you to express gratitude to all those who have accompanied you on your educational journey. Finally, all these ceremonies mark a moment of transition. You are on the precipice of one phase in your life about to launch into another. It may be exciting or exhilarating. It may be anxiety-producing or terrifying. It may be something in-between. Whatever this moment is for you, it will only happen once. I invite you to pause, breathe, and wear your regalia with attention to all that your special day brings.
Congratulations and Best Wishes,
Interim Dean, School of Arts and Humanities
In an earlier blog, I drew your attention to the fact that CSU, Bakersfield has crossed the 10,000 student threshold. As the student population grows, so do our campus facility needs. Arts and Humanities hopes the campus will select our building proposal for a Media and Performing Arts Center as the next major new facility.
Here’s a brief summary of how the Media and Performing Arts Center would serve our campus and community:
The Media and Performing Arts Center will be a two-story building facing Stockdale Highway with a state-of-the-art Communications facility on the second floor and multiple performance spaces on the first floor. The facilities in the Center will support the Public Relations, Journalism, Digital Media, Film, General Education, Theatre, Music, and Liberal Studies programs. The Media and Performing Arts Center will enrich university excellence by greatly expanding our ability to serve our students, support our faculty, and create beneficial partnerships with community stakeholders.
Student-run media is essential to the vitality of a university. It provides news, information, and entertainment to a campus community, engages students in their university experience, and gives real-world training to students planning media careers. Many universities have student-run radio stations, television programs, newspapers, magazines, news websites, filmmaking studios, advertising firms, and more. The Media and Performing Arts Center enables a converged student media operation that will house our Communications faculty and incorporate all platforms under one roof.
Highlights of the second floor Media operations include a 30-station computer lab that functions as a classroom and production lab, a video studio classroom, a business office for The Runner Media Group (newspaper, website, online radio station, and online news video), and a business office for the student-run public relations firm. It also will house the radio station’s studio, a sound recording room, equipment storage room, and offices for faculty. In this experiential learning environment, students will gain a variety of skills across platforms as they train to enter media-related careers. The entire CSUB campus and the surrounding community will also benefit from the variety of media opportunities provided by this operation.
The first floor of the Media and Performing Arts Center includes a black box theatre, film screening room, concession area, practice rooms, and an 800-seat concert hall, which could be expanded to 1400 seats with additional private funding. The State University Administrative Manual (SUAM) under Section VI - Standards for Campus Development Programs specifies two performance space requirements/entitlements. This new facility will allow us to achieve the vision set forth in CSU Auditorium Standards and Board of Trustees policy on the Provision of Large Auditoria on CSU Campuses, which states that CSU campuses should have a 1200 seat large auditorium. The CSU Facilities guidelines also lists five performance/rehearsal spaces for campuses over 5000 FTE which maintain fine arts programs, and the Media and Performing Arts Center will make this vision a reality.
The Center will allow CSUB to become a beacon for the arts and humanities in this area of the Central Valley. This building is necessary to accomplish our mission of providing excellence, creating partnerships, and building community by providing facilities of the highest quality to
train a new generation of performers (artists & musicians) and teachers, and to satisfy the current and future demands in our region and throughout the state. The Media and Performing Arts Center will help us raise our profile in the entire region and help us attract, retain, and graduate talented students from Kern County and beyond.
You can read the full proposal and give your feedback at the Academic Affairs Facilities Master Plan Proposals page.
I don’t use the word “miracle” often. But, I think it’s the best word to describe my change in vision post-surgery last week. As my current eye doctor described it, “It’s not that either of your eyes are that bad, it’s just that you wouldn’t usually find them on the same person.” Or in the words of my childhood eye doctor explaining why I needed my first eye surgery 40 years ago, “it’s as if one of your eyes is a circle and the other is a triangle.”
The recent surgery brought two immediate and dramatic changes. With the addition of bifocals last year (ah, the joys of aging) my eyes were tired, tired, tired – and I lived with a constant eye-strain headache. I awoke after the post-surgery nap, and the headache was gone. Poof. Vanished. I also gained depth perception. I had been told my brain was often using one eye at a time, but to actually experience the world with new depth was unexpected and, frankly, miraculous.
I didn’t know that I couldn’t see.
To shift from the literal to the metaphorical: At its best, a liberal arts education proffers similar results. As the influential 19th century French author Marcel Proust wrote, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” For me, reading “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in my freshman English composition class launched such a voyage of discovery. Confronting the ongoing history of American racism through King’s letter, changed the way I saw my country and myself and continues to goad my lifelong journey to understand the ways religion intersects with oppression and justice.
My first public outing with my “new eyes” was CSU, Bakersfield’s Alumni Hall of Fame Gala where we recognize alumni whose accomplishments and careers have brought honor and distinction to the University. Each recipient spoke eloquently of how CSU, Bakersfield changed how they saw themselves, their potential, and made possible their ability to make the contributions to their community for which they were honored.
This Friday, we will be honoring more recent graduates through The CSUB Alumni Rising Runner program. I look forward to moderating a conversation for our current undergraduates with the four honorees and particularly look forward to meeting Tyree Boyd-Pates, the Rising Runner selected by the Chairs Council of Arts and Humanities.
Tyree has recently blogged on his own encounter with King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, which is worth reading along with his interview for AHA on his experience at CSU, Bakersfield.
You may not be a Rising Runner or a member of the Alumni Hall of Fame (yet!), but you may also have a story of how your educational experience at CSU, Bakersfield gave you “new eyes,” so to speak. We’d love to hear from you. Post a reply, email us (firstname.lastname@example.org), and if you’re in town, come to the Homecoming BBQ this Saturday, February 25th, 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. We will be at the Arts & Humanities tent near Science III.
We all have a perspective to share.
Today, CSU, Bakersfield reached 10,000 students enrolled in the university for the first time in its 47-year history. That’s just about doubled from a decade ago. And we are receiving national recognition of just how valuable – how transformative – a CSU, Bakersfield education can be for each and every one of these 10,000 students.
Researchers affiliated with The Equality of Opportunity Project used big data technology to analyze millions of anonymous tax filings and tuition records from 1999 to 2013 to compare the incomes of college graduates in their 30s from low-income families with those of their parents. Bakersfield ranked #3 in the country in propelling the move of its graduates from low-income to the middle class. According to the New York Times, “82% of our students who enrolled in the late 1990s and came from families in the bottom fifth of the income distribution have ended up in the top three-fifths of the distribution.”
The big data numbers affirm what faculty regularly see in the lives of our students and graduates. As a new professor at CSU, Bakersfield in 2003, I heard the Dean declare “we save lives,” and it struck me as a fairly outrageous bit of hyperbole. But I have seen the transformation this university can make in the lives of individual students, and, over the next several months, we will feature some of their stories in Arts and Humanities Alive.
The morning after reading about CSU, Bakersfield as one of “America’s Great Working Class Colleges,” I boarded a 6 a.m. train to Sacramento to join other CSU leaders for a two-day training on Professional Fundraising for Deans and Academic Leaders. It was fitting. In addition to the good news of economic mobility, the article also reports that according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state funding for education is down almost 20% per student since 2008.
And so an important part of my job is to partner with our university fundraising professionals and raise money to supplement the approximately 40% of our budget provided by the state for students’ to have the transformative experiences and develop the skills that, among other things, enable their move into middle class and beyond.
Our students are amazing. They are out in the community teaching philosophy to youth and their parents; starting a professional Public Relations firm to serve our community; sharing their history research with internationally renowned professors; introducing elementary school children to the magic of theatre – and the list goes on.
We are connecting the arts and humanities to everyday life.
What we say and what we do … or won’t do
My last Dean’s Corner message spoke to the importance of kind words, especially in turbulent times. I’ve been thinking about the role of the university and the School of Arts and Humanities as we move forward in a country that is deeply divided.
I believe that part of our mission must be to embody the Core Values articulated in CSU, Bakersfield’s Strategic Plan. Included among these are “Developing the intellectual and personal potential of every student; Nurturing a civil and collegial campus environment that values the diversity of persons and ideas; Engaging one another with respect, trustworthiness, ethical behavior, and self-reflection.”
It was with these values in mind, that I read with pride an L.A. Times article from Thursday, November 17th. It included the following affirmation from California State University Chancellor, Timothy White. "Our police departments will not honor immigration hold requests," Chancellor White said. "Our university police do not contact, detain, question or arrest individuals solely on the basis of being … a person that lacks documentation."
With the status of DACA looming, this is a particularly tenuous time for some of our best and brightest members of the CSU community. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center continues to provide information and resources for immigrant families. They have included a new resource for schools as well at ilrc.org.
Yes, kind words do matter. And so do our actions. The School of Arts and Humanities supports Chancellor White’s strong commitment to all of our students.
There is a saying in Jewish tradition that “A person’s tongue is more powerful than his sword. A sword can only kill someone who is nearby; a tongue can cause the death of someone who is far away.”
Two items appeared in my e-mail earlier this week that reminded me of the power our words have. CSU, Bakersfield President Horace Mitchell sent a campus-wide memo affirming freedom of expression as a first amendment right. He rightly avowed that an important part of belonging to a university community is engaging with points of view different from one’s own, even when those ideas make one uncomfortable. In my home discipline of religious studies, we call this skill critical and empathetic understanding – the ability to understand and appreciate others’ worldviews. It involves a willingness to learn from others and to acknowledge the standpoint of one’s own perspective. Freedom of speech is a first amendment right, and it is critical to a democratic citizenry. Preparing all university students for this awesome responsibility is at the core of Arts and Humanities. One reason we cultivate critical thinking and oral communication skills in the general education curriculum and in all of our majors is to promote a reasoned and robust exchange of ideas.
The second item in my e-mail was a link to a two-page spread in The New York Times titled “The 282 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List.” You don’t need to read The New York Times, or look only at Donald Trump, to be dismayed at the commonness of mean-spirited attacks that supposedly pass for objective reporting or the exchange of ideas. Truthfully, way too many of the conversations in my Facebook feed these days are one-sided diatribes. When we engage in character assassination rather than thoughtful discussion (or reasonable silence) whom does this serve? If we are to err in our words, let’s err on the side of generosity.
Avoiding gossip and practicing right speech are important topics in both Judaism and Buddhism, and I’ve heard the following evocative analogy in both traditions. Gossip is like a feather pillow sliced open and thrown to the wind. You can’t take it back, and it causes a mess!
It’s easy to contribute to the gossip, to make snide remarks about a classmate, a co-worker, or a colleague. Un-noble speech seems so in vogue at the moment – the more outrageous the statement, the more airtime it seems to receive. In its stead, we’ve started a hashtag #AHKindWordsMatter. I extend an invitation to practice the principle of generosity, beginning with 140 characters.
It may still be 100 degrees at CSU, Bakersfield, but fall always holds the excitement of possibility at an educational institution – a new cohort of students, staff, and faculty returning refreshed, renewed, and ready to engage students on a journey of discovery.
This year is characterized by change at CSU, Bakersfield including a new multicultural resource center in Rohan (the Old Dorms); a new calendar with the change from quarter to semester; and a new general education curriculum. Within the School of Arts and Humanities, we are fortunate to have nine new tenure-track professors enriching the campus with their teaching and research expertise. The more opportunities I have to meet these remarkable teacher-scholars, the more I look forward to their contributions and what will flourish over the coming years.
One other wonderful change is our up-and-coming Humanities Building. AH advisor Janine Cornelison is posting a weekly picture of the building’s progress. She said, “since the building is going to be built in a year, I was curious to know how fast it gets built by taking a picture every Friday of the progress.” You can log onto Instagram and follow us @csubAHadvising. Every Friday, Janine uses #AHfuturefriday to upload the picture.
For those of us, who haven’t yet embraced the change of Instagram, you can view our building progress at Pictaram.
Best wishes for whatever changes appear before you this season.
Crazy Hat Day
“We need to wear crazy hats on the first day of school,” announced Interim Associate Dean Debra Jackson. I resisted the suggestion at first, but – as is so often the case – came to see the wisdom of our Dean’s Office resident philosopher.
The beginning of the new year is an exciting time. And it can also be a stressful time as students, faculty, and staff navigate their way through a new schedule. Crazy hats could bring much-needed levity and humor to quell the madness. However, I was still a bit reluctant. Students, faculty, and staff need to know that the Dean’s Office has the expertise to assist with their needs. Might “crazy hats” undercut our credibility, I wondered.
Then I remembered my crazy hat. Advisor Adriana Sixtos is wearing the jester’s hat in all its glorious foolishness. History, literature, and folklore are replete with examples of the deceptively simple ‘fool’ whose wise words speak truth to power, and in several spiritual and religious practices the fool or trickster serves as a catalyst for self-discovery.
I received my jester hat from the Faithful Fools who minister in the Tenderloin District where perspective and a sense of humor are crucial. As Interim Dean, I also strive to follow the way of the Fools committed “to each human’s incredible worth. Aware of our judgments, we seek to meet people where they are, through the arts, education, advocacy, and accompaniment.”
And so we welcome you – whoever you are, wherever you are. Let’s laugh together. Let’s learn together.
As I prepare to leave my office on this last day of my position as Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, I recognize the temptation to dwell on the past, to note the accomplishments of our school, our staff, our faculty, our students, and our community. And there have been many in the last six years. But these successes are for the most part documented on this site and elsewhere.
I am much more interested in the future. There is much to celebrate in the coming years for the School of Arts and Humanities. Not least of these is the new Humanities Classroom and Office Building, on which we broke ground June 3. We can also look forward to several new faculty members who bring an array of much-needed expertise to our students, including two art historians (specialists in Contemporary Art and in Latin American and Latino Art History), a historian of China, a religious studies scholar of Asian religions, an instrumental director in the Music department, and a linguist of French and Spanish and Caribbean culture. The school will also be able to look forward to the new leadership of Interim Dean Liora Gubkin, whose experience as associate dean and as a community activist will be a great asset to the mission and vision of the school.
I also note, however, that today is June 16 or what some call Bloomsday, after the protagonist of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses, Leopold Bloom. (My literary roots are showing.)
That novel seems appropriate to note today because of the scope of Joyce’s work, which took the epic journey of Homer’s Odysseus as the structure for Bloom’s day in Dublin, June 16, 1904. We follow Bloom’s wayward and fragmented thoughts through that not especially noteworthy day and come away with a heightened sense of the life of the common man, his inner life and its interconnectedness with the sensuous world around him, his own past and the past of his people and his species.
The effect of this superimposition of the quotidian and the mythic is on one level ironic, highlighting the gap between our smallish contemporary concerns and the assumed magnitude of those of the ancients. But it is not a belittling irony: on the contrary, the common man and woman (for his wife Molly Bloom cohabits his consciousness and gets the last eloquent word) come out as much more heroic in the end than the comparatively flat epic heroes of old. How else interpret the iconic conclusion of Molly’s resounding if somewhat nostalgic “yes” to life, which is so much more convincing and complicated than Penelope’s blind acceptance of a husband who took twenty years to return from a battle for another man’s wife?
Our everyday life in the university can sometimes appear quotidian and dull. It is filled with completing small assignments and bureaucratic requirements. There are classes to attend, articles to read, and reports to write. There are the inevitable petty squabbles over time and space and symbols and reputations. But just as for Leopold Bloom, these everyday tasks can take on heroic proportions, for we all have our dilemmas, our Scyllas and Charybdises; our insurmountable monsters who turn out to be surmountable after all, our Cyclopes; and our
moments of surcease that tempt us to stop our journey short of our goal, our Lands of the Lotos-Eaters.
My friends, colleagues, and staff at the university have wished me well on the next step in what they refer to as my “journey.” And indeed, this will be for me and my family a journey of return to Louisiana, where I will take on a new position as Chief Academic Officer at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.
But like Leopold Bloom, we are all on a journey, not just those of us who are leaving one place for another. The greatest journey is, like Bloom’s, the journey we take every day in the city of our own destiny, whether it is Dublin, or New Orleans, or Bakersfield.
As another great writer, an Alexandrian Greek, Constantine Cavafy pointed out in his poem “Ithaka,” we all have our destinations, our destinies, our Ithakas. And we should make sure that the journey is not hurried, that it is savored. If we take the journey in this way, educating ourselves along the way about everything along the way, our destination cannot disappoint because: “Wise as you have become, so full of experience, / you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.”
But let’s let Cavafy have the last word because there is no better poem from the past with which to confront the future:
As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind--
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard
(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.
Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)
Do you ever feel that you’re living in a loop? Not exactly Groundhog Day, but a loop of déjà vu that suggests something in the Matrix has been changed—or rewound?
Fashion is like that. As our icons die off and we look back on their contributions to popular culture, we notice that even they made mistakes. David Bowie, for example, didn’t invent the mullet but he wore one. And the mullet was not invented in the 1980s but was a recycled fashion from nineteenth-century fishermen who just wanted to keep their necks warm.
I suppose it’s inevitable that if you live long enough you eventually begin to see the déjà vu of déjà vu, like Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (which looks a whole lot like the original Star Wars, I’m told).
I began to notice this eternal return when I was in graduate school studying Victorian literature and art. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in the 1860s—with their art communes, sexual freedom, and return-to-nature ideals—was reminiscent of the flower-child generation of the 1960s (which happened to be my generation).
Lately we hear reports on the “crisis in the humanities,” as though if the humanities aren’t careful they might sail blithely off the edge of the (flat?) earth. These pronouncements come fairly regularly: “Poetry is dead.” “The novel is dead.” “God is dead.” In these cases, I am reminded of Mark Twain’s response: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Reports of the death of the humanities have been greatly exaggerated. I can see, though, why it makes some of us nervous, especially those of us who make a living teaching the humanities, who extol the virtues and skills that an experience of history, theatre, and philosophy provides, not just for individuals but for a free and tolerant society.
Like mullets and sexual revolutions, these dire predictions of the humanities’ death run in cycles. I suspect that some such predictions are just wishful thinking by those who feel threatened by free thought.
With some regularity the pendulum swings in the other direction and suddenly the arts and humanities go from being worthless luxuries to being the saviors of mankind, a new kind of religion that will restore our lost faith, as the Victorian Matthew Arnold thought. Later in the same century, Oscar Wilde would proclaim that art is valuable in the exact ratio that it is useless. Or Théophile Gautier, who pointed out that we should be careful not to demand utility in our art because, after all, the most useful item in our lives is the toilet. At which point some wiseacre like Marcel Duchamp is likely to put a urinal in an art museum and call it “Fountain,” creating one of the world’s most iconic works of modern art.
It sometimes takes a Duchamp to get us thinking and talking about the utility of art (or the art of utility). In the Victorian Age it was the “art for art’s sake” movement reacting to the strictly utilitarian view that only what contributed to the quantifiable “greater good” was laudable. Sound familiar?
On the other hand, a ragtag and dandified army of eccentrics, artists, bohemians, and Bluestockings claimed that the individual had his or her rights too and that green carnations, velvet waistcoats, rouge, and walking skirts were aesthetic necessities and basic human rights.
The argument is easily caricatured, but we see their point. When we think about it, how much of our material life really contributes to either the greater good of utilitarianism or even to the lesser good of everyday materialism? How much of what we demand is really just an aesthetic choice, something to quench an appetite rather than a hunger? And why is Apple Inc. so successful?
Seriously, it seems to take a Steve Jobs with the authority of monumental financial success to say something as clearly true if counterintuitive as pointing out the utility of beauty. This liberal-arts-educated dropout from Reed College often attributed his success to just such a formulation of the value of the arts and humanities to the design principles that became what is now arguably our most utilitarian object, the personal computer having superseded the toilet as that icon of usefulness, just as Steve Jobs predicted it would.
I’m going to go out on a limb here to make my own prediction. We are about due for another pendulum swing back to a new altruism, a new enthusiasm for art for art’s sake, ethics for ethics’ sake, and learning for learning’s sake. This would be a boon for all disciplines in the university, but especially for the arts and humanities, which have been libeled with the mischaracterization of being “useless.” They are anything but.
John Henry Newman, an Oxford don and later rector of the Catholic University of Ireland, argued that we had created a false dichotomy between an education that was either “liberal” (as in a liberal arts education that teaches how to think) or “useful” (as in a trade or professional education that trains us what to do).
But of course he would, wouldn’t he? Just as Plato (a philosopher) thought that states should be ruled by philosophers, and just as Xenophanes pointed out that if horses had gods they would surely look like Mr. Ed.
Here’s how Newman stated the importance of knowledge for its own sake in education in his classic essay “The Idea of a University,” published in 1851:
“Now, when I say that Knowledge is, not merely a means to something beyond it, or the preliminary of certain arts into which it naturally resolves, but an end sufficient to rest in and to pursue for its own sake, surely I am uttering no paradox, for I am stating what is both intelligible in itself, and has ever been the common judgment of philosophers and the ordinary feeling of mankind.”
Indeed, it would be useful to have at least a good basic education to be able to read that sentence (for it is only one sentence, a well-constructed one, although it might look like a paragraph).
We are often told that knowledge is power, power is money, and in a “free marketplace of ideas” money often comes from having the knowledge to produce ideas, and beautiful ideas like Steve Jobs’s computers produce lots of money. The “free marketplace of ideas,” by the way, comes from another Victorian thinker, John Stuart Mill, the over-educated son of a philosopher, who himself expanded the notion of utilitarianism to include the quality of the “greater good” as an ethical guidepost. Adding to the quality of our lives is what the arts and humanities do, turning what was once called a merely useful “microcomputer” into a thing of not only use but also some megrim of beauty, the “personal computer.”
Being able to read Newman’s sentence, I would argue, is a good in itself. Not just for what it says but for how it says it, the beauty of its construction and its rhetorical flare.
It is the kind of balanced periodic sentence that can be heard frequently in the excellent film Trumbo, starring Bryan Cranston, about the screenwriter blacklisted during the McCarthy era. Louis C.K., who plays Trumbo’s friend, constantly implores him not to speak as though everything he says is going to be engraved in stone. Indeed, Trumbo’s eloquence gets him into a lot of trouble. Asked about the charges against him for “contempt of Congress,” he answers that he has plenty of contempt for a Congress that would bridle his right to free thought.
Today, when even political mistakes are being recycled and echoes of McCarthyism haunt our presidential debates, the ability to think critically about democratic principles and demagogic rhetoric should be one of our most valued human resources. The bad news is that we remain underfunded in the humanities. The good news is that the humanities are strong at CSUB.
Sadly, Trumbo, one of the most intelligent films currently playing, is being shown on just one screen in Bakersfield, just once a day (at 1:55 pm). The good news is: the theatre was sold out for that showing when I saw it. Go see it before it goes away because then all you’ll have is Star Wars VII on twice that many screens. So much for awakening the Force.
Over the years I have served on several boards advocating for the arts and humanities, but I am particularly proud of recently joining the board of California Humanities, the state's partner for the National Endowment for the Humanities. I am especially proud of our winning a 2015 Schwartz Prize from the Federation of State Humanities Councils in St. Louis for the project WAR INK.
"War Ink" by California Humanities: A grantee-initiated library project that used veterans' tattoos as a vehicle for veterans to share their experiences with war and homecoming to an interested public. The stories were captured in an online interpretive exhibit. The program has received more than 50,000 visits, generated extensive media coverage, and garnered awards and recognition from the library, media, and design communities. This program blends contemporary cultural issues and technologies with traditional humanities practices of listening, reflection, and dialogue. The 2015 judges were impressed with the program's originality and creativity. Read more about the program here.
The project opened a year ago, November 11, 2014. I would like to invite you to visit the project online this Veterans Day so that you can listen to the experiences of soldiers returned from Afghanistan and Iraq as they interpret the importance of the images they have chosen to have inscribed on their flesh.
Tattoos have captured the imaginations of societies for centuries. Here at CSU Bakersfield, we have our own tattoo expert, Dr. Charles MacQuarrie, Professor of English, who has published extensively on the significance of Celtic tattoos, especially their importance in the Middle Ages, not only as a way of marking slaves and criminals, but also as a demonstration of religious devotion (stigmata).
"Tattoos among the Celts might have been incidental at first -the result of bluing a scar after woad was rubbed into a wound as a disinfectant. I do like the idea of warrior tattoos from the early Scythian warrior to the present days being analogous to battle scars.
Usually tattoos in the early sources are associated with savages, warriors, criminals, and slaves. But according to Claudian in the 4th century AD and Herodianin the late 2nd century AD, tattoos on Celtic warriors indicated high status. In the modern military, though this may be changing, tattoos were more common among enlisted men than officers, an inverse proportion rule between tattoos and rank, but among certain Celtic tribes (and other populations such as Scythians) tattoos may have served a similar role to bars and stars on a uniform.
In the Hiberno-Latin Life of Saint Bridget, the saint seems to remove the tattoos of warriors/brigands who have stigmatized their foreheads in order to reintegrate them into society. The tattoo was the stain that needed to be removed so they could readjust, forget, and be accepted. The tattoos featured in WAR INK seem designed to do the opposite: to help veterans reintegrate and to memorialize their experiences of war." -Charles MacQuarrie
Tattoos can identify us, or help us to create an identity.
You may know the current hit TV series Blindspot, a mystery about a woman who climbs out of a bag in Times Square with brand new tattoos that have to be deciphered to discover who she is. In Gustave Flaubert's telling of the Temptation of Saint Anthony, the saint is tempted by a seductive Queen of Sheba, whose body is tattooed with all the knowledge of the world, and he only has to embrace her to own it. And in Peter Greenaway's cinematic recreation of Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book, a woman becomes the text of her life.
In WAR INK, the defense of the humanities comes together with the defense of our country.
Here's how the directors of WAR INK, Chris Brown and Jason Deitch, describe the significance of the humanities in an interview:
Why do the humanities matter?
All of us have to make sense of our lives. One of the ways we do that is by creating stories. Stories help us process our experiences. They allow us to gain insight into ourselves. One of the things we've heard from the participants is that sharing their stories has given them clarity and helped them come to terms with their service experiences. For some, it's meant they can now step outside the darkness that occupied their lives and see that life after war is possible.
The story of Victoria Lord, a Navy veteran from Iraq,
is especially poignant as she tells how she found the
only real family of her life in the Navy.
Writers have long explored the mysteries of tattoos, from Herman Melville to Lemony Snicket. Ray Bradbury wrote about the Illustrated Man, and John Hawkes tells of a sailor's Second Skin. One of my favorites is a dark short story by the children's author, Roald Dahl. "Skin" tells about a down-and-out bohemian whose back, covered with a tattoo by the artist Chaim Soutine, becomes the latest "found" painting by the famous painter, although the owner himself (other than his skin) cannot be found.
The power of the stories included in WAR INK is that they are not fiction. The stories we tell are not just for entertainment; often they are essential to our survival. Our most profound experiences must be told through pictures and words even when these representations are not adequate to the experience.
At the end of the WAR INK project, a section describes "Your Role." In meeting the men and women in the exhibit and by extension all the men and women who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, what can we do?
In the words of WAR INK participant, Mike Ergo: "Put your preconceived notions on hold and just talk like they're a person. They will be forgiving as long as you come across like someone who is okay with listening, really listening, not the 'I'm waiting for my turn to talk' listening, but active listening."
If the humanities can only teach us to listen to each other, what a priceless gift.
Photo credit: Johann Wolf
At the beginning of each new academic year, I look back on what we have accomplished and forward to what exciting opportunities are arising for us to “connect the arts and humanities to the everyday life of the community.”
This year, though, I am particularly excited about the new talent joining our faculty. After several years of budget cutting, we can finally breathe a little and build our programs again, and these are the faces of our bright future.
Dr. Kate Mulry, Assistant Professor of American history, specializes in Atlantic Studies. Her BA is from Princeton University, and her PhD from New York University. She comes to us from Haverford College, where she has been Visiting Assistant Professor.
Dr. Stephen Allen, Assistant Professor of Latin American history, studies sport and masculinities in Mexico. He has a BS with honors from Bowling Green State University, an MA from Temple University, and a PhD from Rutgers University. He has most recently been a Visiting Lecturer in History at Boise State University.
Dr. Nate Olson, Assistant Professor of Philosophy with a specialty in applied ethics, has a BA in Philosophy and English from St. Olaf College in Minnesota, and an MA and PhD in Philosophy from Georgetown University. He comes to us after serving as a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Thinking Matters Program at Stanford University.
Dr. Angel Vazquez-Ramos is our new Assistant Professor and Choral Director in the Music Department. His Bachelor of Music is from the University of Puerto Rico, and his Master of Music Education and PhD in Choral Music Education are from Florida State University. He comes to us from Chapman University, where he has been Assistant Professor and Director of Choral Music Education since 2010.
Dr. Dustin Knepp, Associate Professor of Spanish, joins us as both the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and as Interim Chair of Modern Languages and Literatures. He has a BA in Spanish from Angelo State University, an MA in Spanish and Hispanic Culture from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a PhD in Spanish, Latin American, Caribbean, and US Latino Cultural Studies from the State University of New York at Albany. He comes to us from the University of Central Arkansas, where he was the program director of Latin American and Latino Studies.
And finally, I am happy to announce that Dr. Liora Gubkin, who was recently promoted to Full Professor of Religious Studies, is the new (and actually the first) Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities. She will take on several responsibilities having to do with the A&H Student Center (advising, tutoring, recruitment, and student success in general), as well as curricular concerns having to do with the quarter-to-semester conversion and the new General Education program, among many other fascinating challenges.
Stay tuned to our blog, AHA!: Arts and Humanities Alive for the latest in what is happening as we continue to connect and celebrate.
Have a great year!
“All Cretans are liars,” said the Cretan.
This is what is known as the Cretan Liar paradox. It is named after Epimenides, a sixth-century BCE philosopher from Knossos on the Greek island of Crete. If you don’t immediately see the paradox, keep looking while I give you some unsolicited advice.
If you are a student thinking of majoring in the arts and humanities—any one of the disciplines in our school that focus on creativity, critical thinking, compassion, and what comprises the art of being human—you probably expect me to make a sales pitch about what kind of well-paying jobs will be available to you the moment you toss your artfully decorated mortarboard into the air at graduation.
I can do that. I can point to lists of CEOs and other successful people who majored in history or philosophy, religious studies, foreign languages or literature, theatre or art. Every last one of them will espouse the value of a liberal education (i.e., an education that includes a healthy dose of not only hard and soft sciences but also the arts and humanities) as either the direct or indirect path to success.
Alternatively, I could implore you to raise the bar of your ambitions and not to focus on filthy lucre alone but to aspire to the greater dividends of an enriched intellectual and spiritual life. I could tell you that one does not live by espresso and croissants alone and that virtuous food for thought is worth more than rubies. I could mix metaphors and write purple prose till Doomsday. But you wouldn’t listen and I wouldn’t blame you.
No, I’m going to tell you something you probably don’t expect to hear from a dean. I’m going to tell you not to listen to my advice.
We can’t live our lives online. We can’t send in our measurements and order a future and expect it to fit because not only is your life not one-size-fits-all, I’ll bet it doesn’t even come in Small, Medium, and Large. Every life is unique. So for me to tell you to become an English major would be like me trying to get you to wear my old college sweatshirt.
The best measure of whether a college education has done its job is if a graduate can think on his or her own. In the classic movie The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman was given career advice in the form of one word: “Plastics.” There are many such well-meaning words of advice out there today: “Engineering,” “Oil,” “Coding,” “Critical Thinking,” and so on.
Take my advice: don’t take their advice. Find out what interests you and follow that scent wherever it takes you. There are a lot more careers in the world than you can find in any list of classified ads or college catalogs. And there will be a lot more.
So take this word of advice from a Cretan dean: “Don’t take my advice.”
In a few weeks our campus will see the creation of the newest addition to what is rapidly becoming CSUB's unofficial Sculpture Garden.
If you stand in just the right spot somewhere between Faculty Towers, the Music Building, the pond near the old student dorms, and the new Visual Arts Building, you can see no less than four artworks, including Betty Younger's Owl, wide-eyed in the shade of a grove of evergreens.
Three other sculptures are the products of CSUB's 25-plus-year-old Visiting Sculptor program. To the west, Korean artist Byoung-Tak Mun's "Dragon Tail" emerges from the now somewhat dehydrated pond. To the east, German artist Cornelia Konrads' knotted pillars hold up one wall of the "Stilts Building". And a little farther distant, Ivorian artist Jems Robert Koko Bi's monumental wooden head of Martin Luther King Jr. gazes out from the west wall of the library. (The story of Konrads' "Knots" is nicely told in the YouTube video below).
By the end of May, however, a new sculpture will have been completed by Dutch artist Walter van Broekhuizen, assisted by CSUB art students and staff.
Van Broekhuizen's proposal, entitled "I Think" bridges the disciplines of Art and Science. His design is based on what is known as the "Tree of Life" sketch from Charles Darwin's notebook B (1837), thought to contain Darwin's early theorizing about how species might have diverged over time from a common origin.
I invite everyone to imagine how this translation of Darwin's scientific thinking into visual art might take shape on the blank canvas which is the south wall of the Music Building.
I invite everyone, also, to attend Walter van Broekuizen's lecture in Visual Arts 105 on Tuesday, May 19, at 4:00 p.m. He will discuss his body of work, as well as his plans for this newest of CSUB's sculpture collection.
I also invite everyone to locate and identify as many as they can of CSUB's rich heritage of sculptures, which is the legacy of a quarter century of the Visiting Sculptors program.
And finally, I invite everyone to do what I think van Broekuizen's sculpture is inviting us all to do - which is to think about the relationship of the arts and sciences, but above all, to think.
Dr. Robert Frakes
Dean of the School of Arts & Humanities