President Rhea Law Visits the College of The Arts
USF’s new interim president, Rhea Law, was welcomed to the College of the Arts by Dean Chris Garvin. Her visit was particularly timely as the College is in the middle of a strategic planning process centered on three specific goals: refocusing to engage the entire Tampa Bay region, building a diverse and exceptional student body, and investing in the college’s intellectual capital in the form of fourteen new faculty recruitments.
At the School of Theatre & Dance, home to the nationally recognized Dance program, Law and Garvin observed a ballet class in session. Garvin mentioned the college’s other highly ranked program, the Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art at the School of Art & Art History. This very competitive program recognized by U.S. News & World Report provides generous research fellowships to students in a dynamic interdisciplinary atmosphere that encourages engagement paired with current theoretical and cultural issues.
Next, was a visit to the USF Contemporary Art Museum, where they viewed Constant Storm: Art From Puerto Rico and the Diaspora, the current exhibition of artworks providing a synoptic view of Puerto Rico’s fragile recovery from Hurricane Maria. Garvin also shared some information on current projects underway at the Florida Center for Community Design & Research and they talked about the value that research in the arts brings to a top university aspiring to AAU status. Law stated, “the Arts at USF are integral to making this a great university for all our students and future alumni.”
At the School of Music’s state-of-the-art concert hall, the two took in an orchestra rehearsal and spoke about the College’s plan to create an industry-leading digital studio that will prepare students for the art and design careers of the future. In discussing one of the great strengths of the arts Garvin noted, “The College of the Arts has this fantastic ability to thrive in that we’re highly risk tolerant; we’re willing to try, and fail, and try again. We are resilient.” He continued, “The benefit of an education in the arts makes our students highly marketable in a variety of industries once they leave USF—making them future leaders in the states and the nation at large.”
As they finished the tour, Garvin mentioned some forward-moving initiatives currently underway, such as the expansion of the Contemporary Art Museum to St. Petersburg; and the creation of a ‘free ticketing’ program that provides open access to all College of the Arts performances, exhibitions, and lectures as a way to welcome new audiences to the arts.
In parting, Garvin noted that it was a pleasure to host the president and see her genuine interest and support in the efforts of the College. He stated, “I was honored to share with her that the entire college is invigorated to work with the president to realize USF’s aspirations of becoming a top research university that values the role meaningful arts experiences play in educating all USF students.”