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Dean Korner's Remarks from Fall 2011 All-College Meeting

Last year created some anxiety, particularly with the Core Council report asking us to eliminate Ph.D. programs and the Integrative Arts department. Many of you have been involved in helping us prepare responses to the concerns raised.

Directors and department chairs have spent considerable time over the summer working on addressing issues raised by the Core Council. We are restructuring Integrative Arts. We are not eliminating that major. Bill Kelly has agreed to stay on as the main advisor for students in that program during this year of transition.

After meeting with the faculty and staff last spring, we have moved forward with some reassignments of faculty positions. Graphic Design has moved administratively to the Stuckeman School. The two separate photography programs have been united under the School of Visual Arts. Ronda Markley and Nicki Williams will continue in their roles assisting students during this academic year. Other faculty in Integrative Arts have been reassigned. Subsequent to this meeting, a more detailed message will be sent out about these transitions.

Dean Gary Kesler and Professor Bill Kelly are working on a transition plan and we will be working with our A&A senators to prepare this plan for submission to the University Faculty Senate. Though we are responding to the Core Council recommendations, we do want to honor the appropriate shared governance processes of the University.

The Art and Music Education faculties have been working on reports for submission to the Provost by October 1.

What is most important during this time of transition is that we keep our focus on shared priorities and seek ways to turn challenges into opportunities.

I hope many of you will recognize these as the four major goals of our current planning process. These are not a wish list; they guide every small and large decision we make in good times as well as difficult times.

Goals of A&A

  • Strengthen our significance and reputation
  • Prepare students to thrive in a global environment
  • Celebrate and disseminate the arts and design
  • Develop a 10-year master plan for facilities and technology

It is important to remember that people are more important in moving forward in difficult times and we have worked hard to ensure that we continue to have strong faculty and staff.

The table and graph below demonstrate our consistent growth in tenure-track faculty lines. We have also grown in fixed-term faculty lines, and much of that in semester appointments to cover sabbaticals and our burgeoning growth in online general education classes.

The balance between growth in fixed-term and tenure-track is healthy. Increasingly in higher education there is a steep decline in tenure-track lines with a sharp increase in fixed term faculty. So far, that has not been the case in the College of Arts and Architecture. There has been a steady growth in tenure-track lines to accompany the growth in fixed-term lines.

The most troubling number here is the downward trend in the headcounts of majors within our college, both graduate and undergraduate. As we continue to make progress on our major goals, we will be turning attention to enhanced recruitment efforts in the year ahead.

I want to highlight some of the progress made on our major goals in recent months. First, we’ll turn attention to the last goal: Developing a 10-year college master plan for facilities and technology. Last year, you were all involved in helping us create a master plan, which has been approved, in concept, and will become part of the University’s capital planning process. Admittedly, the full-range of this plan will likely extend to a 20-year plan.

Our top three priorities include:

  • New recital hall on the current arts plaza and remodel of current Esber Recital Hall to accommodate smaller recital space, large rehearsal hall, and acoustical upgrades in faculty studios
  • Acoustical and accessibility upgrades to Eisenhower Auditorium
  • Major renovations to Visual Arts with added space for flexible computing and design space

We are moving forward immediately on developing the program for the new recital hall and Music I renovations. The goal is to have this program developed and get board approval to move forward with selecting architects for the project next academic year. If we are fortunate and the funding gods smile on us, construction may begin in 2013.

The project will include landscaping to create a stronger path and entrance from the Nittany Lion Inn garage, which will enhance audience appeal for parking there. It’s only a 3 ½ minute walk, but currently it is very uninviting and few patrons realize how close it really is.

We anticipate that these three projects will take up to 10 years. The rest of the master plan is on record and it will provide planning beyond these three major projects.

We are also working to find some breathing space for the Foundations courses in Visual Arts, because we know their current teaching conditions are not acceptable nor sustainable.

And we haven’t given up on exploring opportunities for some sort of large building lab. James Kalsbeek has done a great job of developing plans for this and we are looking at some interim options that would be less costly and more realistic than a new building within the campus core.

The other goal I want to report on this morning is the first one: To strengthen our significance and reputation. There has been much progress on this goal.

One measure is the drastic increase in external funding. Many of you are participants in major external grants from federal agencies: NIH, NSF, Department of Energy, etc. This is important not only because it allows us to play in the space normally occupied by scientists, but the more we play in their space, the more they understand that we can help ask different questions that will allow them to explore new answers they had never before considered. Our StudioLab, a joint effort with the Social Science Research Institute, is a stellar example—in this case, the scientists have come to play in our space.

Under the direction of Keith Bailey, our e-Learning institute is garnering national awards and recognition for providing leadership in the field of enhanced pedagogies. Many of you are working with the e-Learning team on the development of online courses or increased use of technology to enhance your courses. This will become increasingly important.

Many in the College of Arts and Architecture have leadership roles in national associations, including serving as president or president-elect of the major theatre organizations:

  • Bill Doan, president of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education
  • Cary Libkin, president of the Musical Theatre Association
  • Dan Carter, president of the National Theatre Conference and the National Association of Schools of Theatre, the accrediting body
  • Lea Asbell-Swanger, associate director of CPA, is president-elect of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology

Part of the issue of strengthening our significance and reputation is doing a better job of telling our story. We are very pleased with the college's new website, which is a major step forward. Please be sure to familiarize yourself with the information and new features on the website, so can use it in your own work and encourage current and prospective students to use it fully.

The updating of our website represents a major step forward in telling our story. We have worked to build a website that is attractive and will aid in our recruiting efforts, as well as serve as a place to go for information.

[Demonstrations from the website were incorporated into the meeting and staff and faculty were encouraged to explore the website at]

In conclusion, I want to encourage you to not only welcome the new faculty and staff members who were introduced earlier, but to encourage and nurture each other. Several years ago, I participated in the Harvard Leadership Institute, where we were introduced to a useful text, How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work, by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey.They suggest seven languages for creating a better working environment. One that we try to practice in administrative leadership meetings is the language of ongoing regard, where you directly address something you admire or appreciate about another person.The goal is not to thank everyone at every meeting or to say general words of thanks. Rather the goal is to be specific and direct. [Dean Korner modeled this by asking three different people to stand so that she could thank them for specific tasks they had completed or were undertaking on behalf of the college and urged all present to consider finding ways to thank and appreciate one another and practice ongoing regard throughout the coming academic year.]


Dean Korner kicked off the meeting with a surprise entrance from the back of the Palmer Lipcon Auditorium, sporting a hat she had been given last summer by one of the college's donors. Because the meeting serves as a "welcome" for new faculty and staff, she wanted to demonstrate that the College of Arts and Architecture "is a place where we know creativity demands both hard work and hearty laughter, and that playing is an important ingredient of creativity." Dean Korner then presented the hat to the School of Theatre's new costume designer, Richard St. Clair.