Advancing Human Creativity
University of the Arts’ mission is simple: to advance human creativity. UArts believes creativity is the most essential skill for success in today’s society and has educated generations of groundbreaking artists, performers, designers and creative leaders for more than 141 years.
After being granted university status in 1987, University of the Arts became the largest institution of its kind in the nation, offering programs in design, fine arts, media arts, crafts, music, dance, theater and writing. It now features 30 undergraduate arts majors, 15 graduate programs and the nation’s first PhD program in Creativity.
Back in March, I charged a team of staff known as the Crisis Management Team (CMT) to develop a plan for opening the campus for in-person instruction with the start of the Fall 2020 semester. The CMT has been hard at work with senior staff, the deans, faculty and staff members from across the University to develop this plan and is guided by our top priority: the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.
While work toward the full plan continues, we have arrived at some key updates reflective of our current intentions that we would like to share with all returning students so you can better plan for what to expect this fall. Additional details will be shared throughout the summer as they become available. We will also continue to post all updates related to our planning in response to the global pandemic at uarts.edu/COVID19, eventually linking to the full Fall 2020 Opening Plan once it is finalized.
Health & Safety Partners
First, and as previously shared, the University is engaging one of the most elite and preeminent healthcare providers in our city, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, to partner with us in addressing the health and safety needs of our re-opened campus. By expanding our existing partnership with Jefferson, we will ensure that the health and safety protocols we enact for reopening UArts for in-person instruction meet or exceed the social distancing standards recommended by the CDC and governing authorities, as well as surpass best practices for higher education institutions. UArts is continuing the partnership with Jefferson’s Department of Family and Community Medicine to provide primary care services for our students, and we could not be more pleased to further expand its advisory role as we develop the health and safety reopening guidelines for the UArts community. Planning conversations began in March and continue among the senior staff of our respective institutions.
The Fall 2020 Academic Plan
At this time, it is the intention of the University to have new, first-year students begin classes on Monday, August 17. A remote new student orientation program will begin for this cohort on August 1. New students living on campus will move into the residence halls over August 12 and 13 and all new students will then participate in an in-person orientation program leading up to the start of classes.
Returning students will begin their in-person instruction on Monday, September 14. Upper-level students living on campus will move into the residence halls over September 12 and 13. A remote re-orientation program for returning students will be available beginning August 17.
All in-person instruction will be completed by Saturday, November 21 just prior to Thanksgiving break, but the semester will officially end December 19. Residential students will be required to move off campus over November 21 and 22. Thereafter, remote and alternate forms of instruction will continue for most courses through December 19. You will receive details on the specifics of your schedule over the course of the summer. I am attaching a table of these important dates to this email as well, which will also be available at uarts.edu/COVID19. Residential students will soon receive a revised bill with a prorated charge for room and board based on the schedule of in-person instruction.
In addition, resuming in-person instruction requires that we as a community plan for the following:
- UArts Healthy Promise
- All community members who wish to return to campus, including students, faculty and staff, will be required to complete a training and sign a UArts Healthy Promise. The details of the Healthy Promise are still being developed but in general will consist of individual actions that we each must agree to in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19. It will likely include measures such as requiring all individuals to wear masks; maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet (36 square feet per person) from each other at all times in studios and classrooms; and abide by sanitation and cleaning protocols that will be established and customized for various spaces across campus. The UArts Healthy Promise will become an addendum to the student, faculty and staff handbooks, and adherence will be required.
- Adjusted Course Meeting Times
- To meet these requirements, and to provide any specialized cleaning regimens that may also be required, some changes in class start times and room assignments will be necessary and may require evening and weekend scheduling, as well as additional instruction spaces. More details will be shared as they become confirmed within each School.
- Critical Studies & lecture-based Major Requirements delivered Remotely
- To minimize the number of students, faculty and staff on-campus at any time and to maximize our ability to practice the highest level of social distancing, the academic plan for the Fall 2020 semester will require that all Critical Studies courses and lecture-based major requirements be delivered remotely. This will also facilitate students who are unable to return to campus due to heightened health or family concerns to have the choice to continue earning credit towards their degree program. For those students who return to campus, your schedule may comprise a hybrid experience.
- Student Support & Academic Services Adjusted
- Our staff and faculty are hard at work to develop safe and socially distant delivery plans for student support and academic services. How services are delivered within areas like Academic Advising, the Counseling Center, the Registrar’s Office, Media Resources, the Library and Financial Aid, among others, may change. Detailed plans for each area will be made available prior to the start of the fall semester.
- Continued Support for Most Vulnerable Students through UArts Cares Fund
- In the spring 2020 semester, more than 300 students were supported through UArts Cares with over a quarter-million dollars awarded from March through the end of the term. We recognize that the global pandemic continues to have tremendous impact on our students and their families, and that many continue to face immediate hardship including housing insecurity, food insecurity and/or a significant loss of income that may impact their ability to successfully complete the Fall 2020 semester. We will continue to provide UArts Cares funds in the fall semester for those facing immediate hardship. In addition, if any student is concerned about their ability to meet the cost of enrollment for fall 2020 and there has been a change in your finances since you filed a FAFSA for the 2020-2021 academic year, please contact the Office of Student Financial Services at email@example.com to discuss your concerns.
In closing, please know that we will continue to be responsive to new guidance and directives as issued by the local, state and federal authorities including the CDC. We will continue to update students, faculty and staff as information becomes available, and ask that you share messages such as this one with your family. You may also want to encourage your family to sign up for the Generations newsletter, through which we will share important public updates.
The UArts Cares Fund was established to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our student community have access to nutrition, housing, transportation and the supplies necessary to succeed at UArts.
UArts Cares has worked with partners across campus to open a food pantry and provide grocery store gift cards, provide SEPTA passes, offer academic and art supplies, and give emergency monetary grants and housing assistance.
Now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many students are facing immediate hardship, including housing insecurity, food insecurity and/or a significant loss of income that could impact their ability to successfully complete the spring 2020 semester.
In response to immediate student need, the UArts Cares Fund has expanded its mission to include those hit the hardest by COVID-19. To support our most vulnerable students, the University is expanding the UArts Cares Fund to include newly created scholarships, work-study replacement funding, and specific impact grants to both current and incoming students. Any UArts student facing hardship can apply for support through an online application.
I would be overwhelmed without this support. I am extremely grateful for all the assistance that UArts Cares has provided me. Thank you so very much!
-Anonymous Illustration Student
Kym Moore, an innovative and imaginative leader, theater-maker and scholar who continues to demonstrate the interconnected power of creative disciplines to impact and shape our reality, will join University of the Arts as dean of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts. Moore brings a passion and conviction that inspires joy, unity and drive within the artists, makers and creatives fortunate enough to work with her. Moore’s appointment will begin in January 2021 and concludes a nine-month national search for the future leader of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts, which began in fall 2019.
Currently, Moore serves as full professor and director of undergraduate studies in Brown University’s Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, where she has taught for more than a decade. As an educator, theater-maker and producer, she directs, devises and writes works that utilize the unique materials of theater to examine the multiple dimensions of human existence and seek to cultivate a “culture worth living in.” She is the co-founder/co-artistic director of the Antigravity Performance Project, which was founded in 2012 to challenge the boundaries of theatrical convention and forge new frontiers in performance-making. Moore and her collaborators recently completed their second residency at the Yale Center for Collaborative Arts and Media toward the creation of a transmedia performance installation, Do Eye Know You? which they plan to premiere in Philadelphia next season. As a director and producer, Moore has received numerous awards together with her collaborators, including the Salomon Award (Time’s Up!), the Pen and Brush Playwriting Award (The Date) and two Dorry Awards for Best Direction and Production of a Play (The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry).
“We set out to find a truly imaginative and future-focused leader who gets the relevance of art and creativity today, and how it can change our world,” says UArts President and CEO David Yager. “In Kym we have found that leader, and she also defies the boundaries between disciplines. She understands what creatives bring to our society and knows how we must prepare—the work we must lead—to be relevant and reflective of the world we live in. To say we are pleased to welcome Kym to UArts is a great understatement. I can say with confidence, and together with the Office of the Provost and the entire search committee, from her very first on-campus visit back in March, we all feel as though we are welcoming Kym home.”
“The thought of working collaboratively across disciplines to ‘advance human creativity’ is
beyond my wildest expectations!” says Moore. “Centering the arts as a primary contributor to the development of society has been my mission as an artist and educator from the very start. To find an institution filled with faculty, students, staff and administrators that share the mission is surely a dream come true. I’m thrilled to be coming ‘home’ to a place I didn’t know existed beyond that dream state.”
Throughout her career, Moore has taught acting and directing nationally and internationally at Swarthmore College, Hampshire College, SUNY Purchase, Sarah Lawrence College, Notre Dame University, Indiana State University, the Juilliard School, Carnegie Mellon University, the SIBIU International Theater Festival (Romania), and the Belgrade Theatre (UK), among many other organizations. Her course Acting Outside the Box: Considering Race, Class, Gender & Sexuality in Performance has also been taught nationally and internationally, including at the National Theater Institute/Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, NYU Graduate Acting, University of Oklahoma/Norman, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Columbia University and the Juilliard School. Moore is a graduate of the State University of New York New Paltz (BA) and University of Massachusetts Amherst (MFA). She is an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, and a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab and the National Alliance of Acting Teachers.
Moore will assume leadership of University of the Arts’ theater programs, originally founded by Walter Dallas in 1983 and which became known as the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts in 2009. The school comprises four undergraduate degree programs and two graduate programs in partnership with Pig Iron Theater Company. The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts is one of seven schools at University of the Arts that span art, dance, design, film, music and theater.
Moore will succeed current Dean David Howey, who has announced his retirement after 24 years of outstanding service to University of the Arts as a faculty member, program head and dean. Moore’s appointment concludes a nine-month-long search process, charged by the Office of the Provost and led by a search committee comprising a truly interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff.
News & Events
The UArts Commencement ceremony has never followed convention, and this year was no exception. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Class of 2020 celebrated their incredible accomplishments together, apart. On May 16, the community gathered online to experience its first-ever live streamed virtual Commencement ceremony, which was viewed 8,500 times that day. Here are some of the highlights.
Piano grad Nicholas “NGXB” Blum opened the ceremony, performing “Pomp and Circumstance” from his home. President David Yager then led the rest of the ceremony from the university’s Center for Immersive Media. School of Music faculty gave a stirring rendition of “America the Beautiful,” performed entirely via Zoom. Jeff Lutsky, chairman of the Board of Trustees, offered his well wishes to the Class of 2020, followed by valedictory speaker La’Needra “Lulu” Cornelious BFA ’20 (Acting). “The heart and passion that bleeds into our art, music, choreography, films, designs and theater arts,” said Cornelious, “that’s what’s bringing joy into this world now.”
Yager then presented the President’s Award for Cross-Disciplinary Excellence to Kibria Chavez BFA ’20 (Graphic Design); the President’s Award for Outstanding Service to the University to Allison Santos Lezama BM ’20 (Vocal Performance); the President’s Award for Excellence in Creative Practice to Ajia Wilmore BFA ’20 (Dance); the President’s Award for Critical Inquiry to Renee Hoffman MA ’20 (Museum Studies); and the President’s Award for Innovation to Elizabeth Reed BFA ’20 (Craft and Material Studies).
Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol Graney presented the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award to Professor Nancy Heller and the President’s Distinguished Teaching Award to Professor Ralph Giguere. Producer and musician Adam Blackstone ’04 (Instrumental Performance) addressed the Class of 2020 on behalf of the Alumni Association, followed by the presentation of the Silver Star Alumni Awards to David Ewing BFA ’68 (Film) and Libby Newman ’80 (Printmaking) for their incredible contributions to the creative community. President Yager presented two honorary doctorate degrees: to Njideka Akunyili Crosby, a world-renowned, Nigerian-born visual artist; and Phong Bui BFA ’85 (Illustration)—artist, writer, independent curator, and co-founder and artistic director of The Brooklyn Rail.
Despite the unprecedented nature of the celebration, many UArts traditions were still upheld, including the highlight of the ceremony—a student performance of “With a Little Help From My Friends” via Zoom. Music students have said they looked forward to auditioning and performing the song since freshman year.
Instead of walking across the stage of the Merriam Theater to receive their diploma, graduates were able to submit a seven-second “name reading” video. Needless to say, there were some very creative submissions: backwards rollerblading, Tik Tok acapella, short animations and too many pet cameos to count! After each dean conferred the degrees to their respective schools, over 200 graduates participated in a virtual tassel turn, symbolizing the end of their undergraduate careers, the beginning of their professional careers and their connection as the Class of 2020.
In addition to the live stream ceremony, graduates and families were able to connect through the 2020 virtual commencement website, which experienced over 6,000 sessions during the course of the day and will remain live for one year. Each graduate was able to curate a Commencement profile by submitting a profile picture, a resume, an artist statement, samples of their work, school memories, and links to social media accounts and professional websites. The website also featured a curated section of student work and a community section with a live social media feed and message board. Throughout the day, the community watched as the love flooded in from family and friends and classmates, who sent over 700 congratulatory messages.
“In this time of disappointment, I find solace in the work that we are doing as a community and collectively as a school,” said Cornelious. “A lot of people can not enjoy this moment due to financial issues, family problems at home and literally, the loss of life. So for them, we celebrate today, no matter how it’s given.”
The Class of 2020 and its celebration will be one to remember for many years to come. To experience Commencement 2020, visit commencement.uarts.edu.
On Wednesday evening, Nov. 20, UArts faculty, staff, students, administrators and honored guests gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the Center for Immersive Media (CIM) in Juniper Hall. The opening of this state-of-the-art facility marks the culmination of a year-long renovation project, announced in summer 2018.
The grand opening celebration included remarks from UArts President and CEO David Yager and CIM Director Alan Price, as well as live, hands-on demonstrations of VR, motion capture and various immersive sensory experiences. Remarks were followed by a ribbon-cutting and exclusive preview performance of “Infinitely Yours” by Miwa Matreyek, the center’s first fellow. She will join University of the Arts in the spring 2020 semester, leading a course in CIM that will focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, called Projection, Body and Storytelling.
Adjunct assistant professor, master sound engineer and CIM’s first faculty grantee, JohnPaul Beattie BA ’10 (Composition), will also lead a course in CIM in spring 2020, titled Spatial Audio Composition. Beattie has received a microgrant to pursue research that will synchronize spatial audio with immersive lighting design and explore the interconnectedness of our eyes and ears.
We believe artists and creatives are uniquely positioned to help us understand the enormous impact technology is having on our lives. -President Yager
CIM at University of the Arts is a place where students and faculty can explore the opportunities and implications of what it means to be immersed in data, simulations, stories, performances and digital communities. The 5,600-square-foot facility is dedicated to exploring the fields of virtual and mixed reality, performance motion-capture, and human-computer interaction through collaboration across visual and performing arts disciplines.
“CIM demonstrates our commitment to advancing human creativity in a changing world,” Yager says. “We believe artists and creatives are uniquely positioned to help us understand the enormous impact technology is having on our lives, and the center will afford a fantastic opportunity for experimentation and exploration at the intersection of the arts, design, science and medicine.”
On Tuesday, Dec. 10, it was announced that Film Program Director and Assistant Professor Mike Attie’s short documentary Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa has been selected for inclusion in the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Attie’s film was chosen from over 10,000 submissions and will screen in Park City, Salt Lake City and Sundance Mountain Resort from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2, 2020.
“I was quite surprised by the news, as we really just submitted on a lark,” says Attie, who co-directed the piece with filmmakers Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater. The film screened at the Guttmacher Institute in New York and was an official selection of the Philadelphia Film Festival in October, as well as being included in DOC NYC’s Shorts: Ways of Seeing in November.
Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa follows the work of the Philadelphia abortion hotline phone counselors—all called Lisa—who arrive each morning to seemingly endless calls from people who are seeking to terminate pregnancies and can’t afford to. Counselors struggle to stretch available funds, raised from private donations, often having to work with a dangerous matter of timing. Attie’s film aims to give a voice to women and teens impacted by economic stigma and discrimatory policies like the Hyde Amendment, enacted in 1976 with the adverse effect of denying poor individuals access to abortion.
“Independent artists create and enrich global culture. This year’s festival is full of films that showcase myriad ways for stories to drive change, across hearts, minds and societies,” said Sundance Institute’s president and founder Robert Redford in the festival’s Dec. 4 feature film announcement.
The festival—Sundance Institute’s flagship public program—is widely regarded as the largest independent film festival in the U.S., attracting over 120,000 attendees and 1,300 accredited members of the press. Attie will be attending the festival’s annual director orientation and celebration in New York with UArts grad Caitlin Riggsbee BFA ’17 (Film & Video).
“There was a lot of UArts in this piece,” says Attie. Two of his former students, Riggsbee and Courtney Kehr BFA ’19 (Film & Video), worked as sound recordists, and a future part-time faculty member will be doing the score and mixing sound. Attie hopes to continue these collaborative partnerships for the film, hinting at a possible collaboration with UArts’ Graphic Design department on poster design.
He added, “My hope is that this is just the beginning of the life cycle of this film!”
*Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute
The University of the Arts’ Makerspace is a digital and traditional fabrication studio that is a major opportunity for the entire UArts community.
#uartist is a celebration of the boundless creativity of the UArts community. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are welcome to share their work with us via Instagram by including #uartist.
Calendar of Events
See upcoming events in UArts galleries, performance spaces and around campus in Philadelphia.