Who doesn’t feel a little more optimistic when the sun is shining, the sky is blue and a warm breeze is gently blowing? In just the same way that the environment can impact our lives, it can also contribute to or detract from the way we learn.
In Arts & Letters, we provide excellent educational experiences in our classes, studios and labs and through our performances and internships. We also are beginning to focus on providing that sense of “place” that draws students together outside of the formal academic experience. This summer, we began to exam that sense of place in the Liberal Arts Building so that students would want to linger between classes and congregate to visit with classmates or to meet new people. Slowly we are building an environment that is not only functional, but that is also aesthetically encouraging and provides a greater identity for what we do. We’ve added study nooks and places to quietly congregate before and after classes, an electronic message board on both floors. We’ve added art and cleaned up technology in the classrooms. The Manonni Performing Arts Center and the Fine Arts Building have also gone through a renaissance of sorts. In both old and new facilities, our focus on developing an encouraging environment is beginning to show some results.
What I hear in the halls now is the quiet buzz of student conversations as they work and study. Faculty report that they enjoy seeing students working between classes; they appreciate the animation of students as they process their learning; and I revel in the atmosphere of warmth, beauty, and friendliness that is our home in LAB and was already a part of the School of Music and the Departments of Art and Design, Dance and Theatre. Soon our School of Mass Communication and Journalism will move into their beautiful new home, and we will have new learning and performing spaces on 31st Avenue by way of the pedestrian walkway project, just in time to enjoy the spring weather next semester.