From the Dean

June 2019

Dear Arts & Letters Community:

In my first letter to you back in September, I shared my amazement and wonder at the vibrancy of the campus and the challenges of finding my way around in a new place. I haven’t lost any of that wonder and amazement, but I can now find my way on foot from my office in the Music Building all the way to the Corporate Yard; if I hop in a car, I can even find our Downtown LA Campus, where we will be offering a new degree completion program in Communication Studies starting in January 2020.

A few weeks ago, I watched as approximately 750 students crossed the stage at two Arts & Letters Commencement ceremonies. Congratulations, Graduates! The success of these students is the most visible accomplishment of the College of Arts & Letters, but we do a lot behind the scenes to support the success of our students. Among the internal accomplishments of the 2018-19 academic year, my first as dean, are:

  • We established the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, with whom I meet monthly
  • Groups of students, faculty, staff, and community members undertook a strategic visioning process that resulted in new mission, vision, values, and strategic priorities for the College, which you can read below
  • The College welcomed lecturers at a rooftop reception at the library
  • The College’s management team developed a new budget planning model to enable us to better meet student curricular needs while staying on budget
  • Five departments recruited and hired eight promising new tenure track faculty
  • We secured dedicated office space for the First Year Writing Program
  • The College communications team launched this newsletter, “The Next!” and our weekly events listing as well
  • The entire College came together to produce a day-long campus-wide celebration of the humanities and arts for National Humanities Advocacy Day

We also celebrated some accomplishments publicly:

  • Television, Film, & Media Studies Assistant Professor Heather Fipps secured a partnership with Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles that includes a $1 Million commitment to support the Community Impact Media course in the Department of Television, Film, and Media Studies. Deepest appreciation goes out to Stacen Berg at Hauser & Wirth.
  • Thanks to the generosity of his son and daughter-and-law we named the college gallery the Ronald H. Silverman Fine Arts Gallery and welcomed into it an extraordinary show of Pop Art on loan from the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation. The show runs through August 2 and you won’t want to miss it!
  • We re-opened the State Playhouse, the oldest building on campus, with all new seating, acoustical treatment, and more, thanks to a generous gift from the Ahmanson Foundation. 
  • Our partnership with community-based arts organization Self-Help Graphics & Art deepened as we began the academic year with a 40thanniversary retrospective. 

It has been quite a year! And we’re already working on some amazing public and not-so-public projects for next year. Students will want to mark their calendars for Friday, November 1 when the College will host a daylong professional development event: “Connecting the Dots: Professional Pathways into the Creative Industries.”

If you’re able to take time off over the summer – enjoy! And if you’re here on campus, we’re available Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. throughout the summer. The NEXT, this newsletter, will next be published in August to welcome you back for Fall 2019.

With warm best wishes,
Linda Essig, Dean