Dean's Corner Spring 2012

Greetings friends, patrons and colleagues!

It is with both sentiment and pride that I write my last Dean’s Corner message for the College of the Arts eNewsletter.  My staff has rallied to make this a “Special Edition” --  taking an opportunity to reflect on the college’s past 24 years as I anticipate retiring from the University at the end of June.  For this I am grateful, along with the privilege of having worked with so many fine people at Montclair State University.

As I look back at where we’ve been and how far we’ve come, I’m reminded of all the people – colleagues, faculty, administrators, students, alumni and donors – who helped bring us to where we are today and who will continue to build our college’s future.

When I came to Montclair in 1988, the School of Fine and Performing Arts had just received a N.J. State Governor’s challenge grant and designation as a “Center of Excellence.”  It was a proud moment for the University and I was privileged to have been given such a “running start” to further build the school.  More than two decades later, our enrollment has quadrupled, our programs have grown, our school became a “college” and our departments are becoming “schools.”

Our Spring 2012 Newsletter features a snapshot of some milestone changes as well as some reflections of our faculty and staff.  As I leave the University, our Board of Trustees will be launching our second school (following the Cali School of Music) under the college – the new School of Communication and Media which promises to bring unparalleled educational experiences to students --  on the shoulders of our already-existing, high-quality degree programs. New facilities are on the horizon, on top of our new and budding partnership with NJTV.

Speaking of the music school, Professor of Music Robert Aldridge won a Grammy Award on February 12 for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for his opera, Elmer Gantry.  He shared the Grammy with the opera’s librettist, Herschel Garfein. The CD of the opera also won the Grammy for Best Engineered Album, Classical. Other Montclair State faculty have played roles in Grammy-winning music projects in the past, but Aldridge is the first to win the award under his own name.  Our music students just performed at Carnegie Hall. Their accomplishment is just one of many ways through which our students continue to make us proud – each in every day. 

Keeping on top of what’s in the news, the Department of Broadcasting recently produced a web cast about bullying entitled Don’t Laugh at Me – providing a platform for victims to be heard.

Celebrities such as Spike Lee and Bill T. Jones recently visited the campus – in one case speaking to a standing room-only crowd of aspiring filmmakers and, in the other, setting new choreography on our dance majors.

Following sold-out performances in New York and LA, the acclaimed play 8 had its New Jersey premiere at Montclair State for one night only.  The powerful play is about the federal court trial contesting the Proposition 8 voter ban in 2008 on same sex marriage in California. Patrick King, a senior majoring in theatre production design, produced the Montclair State reading as his senior class project. Jeff Zarrillo, one of the four plaintiffs in the Proposition 8 trial and a Montclair State graduate, returned to campus to participate in a question-and-answer panel discussion after the performance. 

On April 22, our students will participate in the University’s Student Research Symposium, a forum showcasing outstanding student scholarship.  Be sure to look at our College calendar  for this event, as well as our end-of year student concerts and exhibitions. Be sure to also read our “On-the-Move” articles to see what’s been happening in all the academic areas. 

It’s been an extraordinary 24 years with great challenges and lots of change.  But one thing that  hasn't changed: The College of the Arts has always attracted the best students and educators – and I have no doubt it will continue to do so. 

Like they say, time flies when you're having fun … and I certainly have enjoyed every minute of it.  Beyond June, I look forward to new projects and continued adventures … along with returning to campus to catch a concert in Leshowitz Hall, see a play at the Kasser Theater and enjoy an exhibition at the George Segal Gallery.  And I hope to see you “there.”

My very best wishes to one and all,

Dr. Geoffrey W. Newman

Dean, College of the Arts