Dean's Newsletter

Volume 11, Issue 5

A Newsletter for Faculty & Staff in the
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

Volume 11, Issue 5

When T.S. Eliot wrote that “April is the cruelest month,” he was not thinking of late winter snow storms, yet the quotation came to mind on April 7th of this year, when the East side of Cleveland was blanketed with several inches of wet, heavy snow, temporarily halting the onset of spring. But even this cruel meteorological setback could not dampen either the return of mild sunny weather or the surge of vital activity that is currently underway at mid-semester in the college. Almost everywhere I turn, I see lectures, plays, art exhibits, and musical events, all of which is in addition to the usual “engaged” teaching and research that one has come to expect in the college. Among these, I can cite an April 6th lecture on the ethnography of the film industry, sponsored by Abed Tayyara and the Middle East Studies program, and delivered by Harvard University’s Steven Caton. In addition, Neda Zawahri organized a panel discussion on the same day entitled “The Impact of Globalization on the World and Cleveland.” The panel included four experts, including diplomats, agency managers, and professors, and drew an enthusiastic and engaged standing-room-only crowd. Finally, on March 29th, the Department of Economics and CLASS partnered with the Urban College to bring prominent CLASS alumnus Zoltan Acs to campus for a series of lectures on the role of philanthropy in the American economy. Dr. Acs holds joint appointments at George Mason University in Washington, D.C., and at the London School of Economics.

In the arts, April began with a dynamic Spring Dance Concert, held on the Main Stage of the Allen Theatre. The concert introduced us to the intriguing work of our newest dance faculty member, Kathleen Diehl, and it featured an important work by Dianne McIntyre, one of Cleveland’s greatest dancer/choreographers. (And, as a fitting complement, the proposal for CSU’s new major in dance was approved by the CSU Board of Trustees on March 30th. Even though the major still needs approval in Columbus, this was a very important step forward.) On April 8th, guest conductor Damien Sneed led the Jazz Heritage Orchestra and the Community Mass Choir in a stirring performance of Wynton Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass. This event was sponsored by the Black Studies Program in partnership with the college. Finally, the Galleries at CSU currently have a delightful exhibition entitled “The Curious Case of Color,” which explores the physical, perceptual, psychological, and aesthetic uses of color in the work of 12 Northeast Ohio artists.  Among these artists are our colleague Qian Li and well-known local artist Julian Stanczak. The exhibition opened on March 10th but will continue to April 15th.

If you’ve missed any of this activity, you still have a chance to partake in other aspects of the college’s spring dynamism. On April 12th, for example, you can hear two fascinating lectures by your colleagues Kelly Wrenhaven and Annie Jouan-Westlund at the annual spring Ways of Knowing Forum. On April 13th, you can attend Fulbright Visiting Professor Péter Müller’s presentation entitled “The Presence and Influence of Hungarian Culture on the American Artistic Scene,” sponsored by Cultural Crossings. On April 14th, you can attend the Lighthouse Reading Series, hearing readings by poets Kazim Ali and Lily Hoang. There is also a range of interesting events in the Music Department, including, for example, the April 28th concert of the CSU Symphony Orchestra. And, finally, you can attend CSU’s production of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which will be performed in the Helen Lab Theatre from April 20th through April 30th. These are just a few of the many opportunities listed in the latest edition of the CLASS arts calendar, which is available online. I encourage you to consider attending some of these events.

Spring is also the time for internal grant competitions. This year 12 of our colleagues won Faculty Scholarship Initiative grants. These included Heba El Attar, Patty Stoddard Dare, Michael Baumgartner, Angelin Chang, Adam Sonstegard, Maksim Isakin, Phuong Ngo, Barbara Hoffman, Meghan Novisky, Cheryl Bracken, Cigdem Slankard, and Irina Koukhanova. This distinguished group represents a nice cross-section of faculty from the humanities, the arts, and the social sciences. I also learned that Jim Marino won a $6000 grant from the Shakespeare Folger Library for his project entitled “Cleveland Teaches Shakespeare.” Congratulations to all these award winners!

At this time of year, we also look forward to summer projects, and I am pleased to report that three of our colleagues won CSU Undergraduate Summer Research Awards. These awards will allow our undergraduates to conduct research on “Language and Culture of the Cleveland Slovenian Community” (Lydia Grebenyova), “Bisexuals’ Relationships: Satisfaction, Acceptance, and Bisupport” (Kimberly Fuller), and “Cultural Exchange—the Creative Fusion of Cuban and Cleveland Dance Artists” (Lynn Deering). These summer research projects represent some of the best of “high impact” learning practices, and I congratulate our colleagues in winning this critical support for their work.

In the context of all this good news, I must note one tragic event for the college. Last month, our part-time instructor David Wilder was killed on the streets of Cleveland when he was accidentally caught in the midst of a gun battle. Mr. Wilder was a highly respected instructor in our Department of Art, and we will miss his outstanding contributions and continue to mourn his untimely death.

Apart from the news of David Wilder’s tragic death and apart from indications of continuing university budget challenges, the April 2017 news from the college is upbeat and overwhelmingly positive. Far, then, from being our cruelest month, April has been a time of high energy and impressive vitality in our college.  And our forward momentum should continue into summer. In the next issue of CLASS Directions, I will report on progress with the development of the School of Film, Television, and Interactive Media, on progress in hiring a new Director of Black Studies, and on plans for CSU’s new summer AHA! Festival, which will take place on June 7, 8, and 9th. I will also report out on a good friend of the college who will be honored at our Commencement Ceremony in May.