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May 6, 2019

New initiative promotes art across campus

MSU’s campus is rich in art — live performances, art installations, sculptures, exhibits and more spanning across disciplines, departments and programs — but this segmented approach makes coordination difficult, often resulting in art that is dispersed and hard to access.

However, changes in university leadership, infrastructure investments, a growing emphasis on integrated teaching and changing faculty attitudes has sparked the university to embark on a yearlong effort to design a unified arts strategy to make arts a fundamental part of the MSU experience.

The strategy, MSUArts, aims to maximize the impact of existing arts resources and create new opportunities for synergy and engagement across disciplines and across campus. MSUArts consists of three broad action areas where the university can seek opportunity and make an impact: the educational experience, research and creativity and creating a sense of place.

Judith Stoddart, associate provost for university collections and arts initiatives, is facilitating the conversation on MSUArts and has begun connecting with departments and faculty groups across campus who can play a role in further developing the program.

“As educators, it’s our goal to set our students up for success by giving them the ability to push themselves creatively,” Stoddart said. “A successful arts strategy is one that reinforces students’ sense of community and belonging to enhance the educational experience and deepen their personal growth.”

“This plan should give students a more connected, more grounded, more culturally sensitive and engaged experience,” said Provost June Pierce Youatt. “The arts are not just a course or major to be completed. They become a means of asking questions and engaging in conversations about the fundamental issues of our time.”

Placemaking is at the heart of the MSUArts strategy, with the goal of positioning campus as a local hub for art through collaborations with the MSU and greater Lansing communities.

“Art has this unique ability to bring people together,” Stoddart said. “MSU was founded on the principle of inclusive and accessible education, and the arts strategy should reflect that. Focus groups interviewed in the planning for the strategy emphasized that art on campus should provide access points to various communities, but also create occasions for engaging in challenging conversations.”

During this beginning phase, the arts strategy planning committee is looking for ideas from the campus community that will build out the three pillars of the strategy. Faculty and staff were invited to attend feedback sessions this semester at the Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology to help generate ideas and considerations for future projects once the strategy is implemented.

Faculty or staff who were unable to attend any of the in-person sessions but would like to share their thoughts can login to the MSU Ideas portal at to join the MSUArts discussion through May 31. After that, the planning committee will review ideas as they plan the rollout of the strategy.

Planning committee members include: Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences; Steve Esquith, dean of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities; Jim Forger, dean of the College of Music; Jeff Grabill, associate provost for Teaching, Learning and Technology; and Chris Long, dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

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