With major support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Lafayette’s vision of infusing the arts throughout the curriculum will become a reality.
The foundation has awarded a grant of $800,000 to support the College’s Global Arts Infusion and Visiting Artists Initiative. The key objectives are to integrate further the performing and visual arts throughout the curriculum and in co-curricular activities, to create new programs in the arts and enhance existing ones, and to strengthen the College’s connections with artists and arts communities.
“We are immensely grateful to the Mellon Foundation. This support will help ensure that all Lafayette students have meaningful experiences with artistic creation and expression during their college years,” says Lafayette President Daniel H. Weiss. “We believe our students’ involvement in the artistic process –in the classroom, studio, rehearsal room, concert hall, media laboratory, and many other settings – is fundamental to the goals of liberal education. It inspires the mind, helps develop critical skills, and leads to an understanding of the myriad ways in which art serves as a vehicle for modeling human experience.
“This initiative also supports and benefits from the College’s strategic efforts to increase the size of our faculty and to enhance global area studies, diversity, links between engineering and the liberal arts, support for the life sciences, study of the environment, interdisciplinary learning, and partnerships with the City of Easton,” Weiss says.
The grant will fund special arts programming during the inauguration of new facilities for the College’s theater program and film and media studies program at the Williams Arts Campus, planned for autumn 2013. An experimental black box theater, film theater, sound stage, and high-tech media and teaching lab are some of the new facilities planned for the arts campus in downtown Easton at the base of College Hill. The project reflects Lafayette’s commitment to make programs in the creative arts an essential feature of the College and ensure that they are known for their outstanding quality, presence, and relevance to both the campus and larger community.
Lafayette will create a new faculty-level position, director of the arts, who will facilitate the infusion of the arts throughout the curriculum. The director will report to Wendy L. Hill, provost and dean of the faculty.
“The director will partner with academic department heads, program chairs, and an advisory committee on the arts to enhance the curriculum and create and sustain collaborations among artists, faculty members, and students,” Hill says.
Collaborations beyond campus will take advantage of Lafayette’s proximity to New York City and the other major arts centers of the East Coast and will build on current programs at the Williams Center for the Arts, Williams Visual Arts Building, and campus art galleries, in addition to the College’s academic programs in art, film and media studies, music, and theater.
At the heart of the arts infusion project will be an enhanced visiting-artists program that brings local, national, and international artists to campus. This program also will take advantage of Lafayette’s location near the metropolitan arts centers as well as easy overseas travel connections.
A new student fellowship program in media and the arts will benefit both students and faculty. Students selected as fellows will work with faculty members who are integrating arts components into their teaching. The program will be modeled after the College’s EXCEL Scholars Program, in which students collaborate with faculty on research projects while earning a stipend.
The grant also will fund the acquisition of equipment that will enhance students’ ability to create works of art and expose them to creative and technical questions associated with their use.