Oswego launching School of Communication, Media and the Arts

art classSUNY Oswego is adding its fourth school as it launches the School of Communication, Media and the Arts this semester.

The new school combines the departments of art, communication, music and theatre to create greater connection and collaboration in fields that are becoming increasingly interwoven and innovative, said SUNY Oswego Provost Susan Coultrap-McQuin.

The new college will foster “innovative thinking, dynamic collaboration, and scholarly and artistic achievement through a balanced study of history, theory and application,” according to its initial mission statement.

“This opens the opportunities for more collaboration with disciplines within the school for cutting-edge programs,” Coultrap-McQuin said. “We can see that down the road these disciplines are going to become more and more integrated, sharing knowledge and applications with each other. This positions us ahead of the curve.”

With New York state demographic trends poised to make attracting top-quality students increasingly competitive, the new school positions Oswego well among SUNY and other colleges in a growing—and ever-merging—field, Coultrap-McQuin noted.

“In terms of new students, it places us in an exciting niche and makes the statement that this configuration of disciplines is a strength of our campus and will provide top-notch programs for students coming to Oswego,” she said. “If students are interested in media in whatever forms, this identifies that we’re invested in this field.”

The new school collects programs with strong credentials: The communications department is renowned for its alumni and facilities, while Oswego is among the few colleges that has nationally accredited art, music and theatre departments. At the same time, those departments would maintain connections to complementary programs outside the new school, such as cinema and screen studies, human-computer interaction and creative writing.

Collaborating on resources and expertise could lead to team-teaching initiatives and even new academic programs. One potential example would be sound technology, which could draw on traditional strengths in broadcasting and music, Coultrap-McQuin said.

The new school also could establish a greater connection with students as well as alumni, some of whom double-majored or minored within those disciplines, the provost said. Greater alumni involvement could lead to new internships and mentoring opportunities, she added.

She recently named communication studies chair Fritz Messere interim dean and music chair Julie Pretzat interim associate dean. They will lead initial work to bring the departments closer together, affirm the mission and goals, initiate outreach to students and alumni, and start to explore opportunities.

A search for a permanent founding dean will commence in the fall. Coultrap-McQuin said she foresees having a full administrative staff and offices in place over the course of the next 18 months.

The creation of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts represents SUNY Oswego’s biggest change in academic organization since it was reorganized into the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education and School of Business in 1992.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Artistic collaboration—With the start of the spring semester, courses like Mary Pierce’s “Western Heritage II: Survey of Art” class become part of SUNY Oswego’s newest school—the School of Communication, Media and the Arts. The new academic division collects the departments of art, communication studies, music and theatre. Pierce (center) is joined here by students in her recent Winter Session class (from left) Rebecca Fisher, Tim Bond, David Widrick and Minh Le.

(Posted: Jan 23, 2008)