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Center for Fine Arts at SFU launches

January 8, 2019 Tags: Alumni , Arts and Humanities , Fine Arts , STEAM , University News

The Center for Fine Arts at Saint Francis University is the newest addition to the university’s portfolio of experiential, cross-disciplinary initiatives designed to benefit students of all majors, as well as to improve the quality of life for surrounding communities.

Fine Arts activities at SFUDr. Daniel Atwood, the Director of SFU Bands, has been named director of the new center. Beginning with the spring 2019 semester, the Center for Fine Arts will bring together co-curricular activities such as theatre productions, art exhibits, marching band, pep band, and dance along with the academic offerings in theatre, music, and the visual arts.

“While the Fine Arts has a storied tradition at the university, the expansion of the program from an academic department formed 50 years ago into full-blown center allows us to expand arts-related academic offerings in disciplines across the university as well as offer more community outreach efforts within the region,” stated Atwood.

The creation of the Center for Fine Arts was part of a larger university effort to re-imagine the academic school structure in a way that fosters collaboration and strengthens transformational student experiences.  The center is administratively housed within the new School of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM), yet its focus is to serve students of all majors, as well as the general public.

The Arts–including theatre, visual arts, music, dance and more broadly, humanities and language arts–have always been at the heart of an SFU education. With the formation of the new STEAM School, this “heart” is beating louder than ever. “Housing STEM, Arts, and Humanities programs in one collaborative school corresponds with the national movement toward STEAM educa­tion, an integrated way of learning embraced by incoming students, and we are thrilled to have the Center for Fine Arts as part of this new venture,” shared University President Fr. Malachi Van Tassell, T.O.R., Ph.D.

The Fine Arts faculty envision a strong academic relationship with the STEAM School, as well as the Shields School of Business and the School of Health Sciences and Education, in terms of developing new curriculum that incorporates the arts. Many current students in diverse majors gravitate toward the arts as both a personal outlet and a potential professional advantage. The tie with healthcare is particularly strong with the university launching a new minor in music and wellness under the direction of Assistant Professor Jim Donovan. The Center’s faculty have a strong passion for exploring themes of healing through art, music and expressive therapy in future curriculum proposals.

Faculty also have plans to extend community engaged programming both on campus and off campus. The possibility of summer arts camps have been part of the brainstorming conversation.

The Center also exists as a physical space, a Fine Arts plaza which is adjacent to the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art on campus. The long-range vision for the plaza is to tie the two existing studio spaces, the Art Garage and the Boilerhouse Music, together with a future theatre building.

A grassroots effort by a passionate group of theatre alumni is underway to construct the Resinski Black Box Theatre, to be named after beloved director and drama professor Kenny Resinski, and his wife Bonnie who continues the Resinski legacy at SFU. This proposed 10,000-square foot space would become an anchor building in the Fine Arts plaza. The plan includes a theatre space/drama lab for students involved in academic and co-curricular theatrical activities with other flexible spaces available for speakers, concerts, and lectures.

The university will host a formal “grand opening” event later in the spring semester. Those interested in information may visit Francis.edu/FineArtsCenter to learn more.