Addressing Declining Enrollment in the Arts & Humanities at Research Universities

February 16, 2017, 2:00-3:30pm EST

Watch webinar recording HERE
Read transcript of audio HERE
Supplemental Materials – coming soon!

Addressing declining enrollment in the Arts & Humanities at Research Universities will address trends in enrollment and strategies to combat declining enrollment, find new partners, and reach out to surrounding communities. Participants will get a current snapshot of arts and humanities trends – a full discussion of successful strategies a2ru partners have taken to prevent or reverse trends in declining enrollment in the arts and humanities.


Our panelists for this webinar include:

LeAnn Starlin Nilsson
Director, Academic Recruitment & Retention
College of Arts
Kent State University

LeAnn Starlin Nilsson currently serves as the Academic Recruitment & Retention Director for the College of the Arts at Kent State University. In this role, she is responsible for recruitment and retention of students in the Music, Theater and Dance, Art and Fashion. In addition, she leads College initiatives for academic diversity outreach to underrepresented students. Prior to this, LeAnn worked at the Cleveland Institute of Art and Hiram College in student activities, new student orientation, student leadership development and service learning. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Philosophy in Higher Education with research focusing on social capital and the college selection process for Appalachian women.


Sheena RamirezWorkHeadshotSheena Ramirez
Portfolio, Audition & Recruitment Coordinator
College of Visual & Performing Arts
James Madison University

Sheena Ramirez has served as the Portfolio, Audition and Recruitment Coordinator for the College of Visual and Performing Arts at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia since May 2015.  She works with prospective students across three schools – the School of Art, Design, and Art History; the School of Music; and the School of Theatre and Dance.  In this role, she is responsible for developing college-wide recruitment events and initiatives, attending high school visits and arts college fairs, planning audition and portfolio review days, delivering arts specific communications, and systematic data integrity and analysis.  Prior to this position, she was the Campus Experience Manager and CRM Specialist in the Undergraduate Admissions Office at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey.

Ramirez holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin Conservatory and a master’s degree from New England Conservatory in Vocal Performance.  She has performed dozens of operatic roles, and was recently praised as a “light, perky soprano” in the American premier of Donizetti’s Olivo e Pasquale by the New York Times.  In 2015, she was named “Best Female Voice” for her portrayal of Patience in Patience at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Harrogate, England.  She is currently earning her doctorate in Voice Performance with an emphasis in Singing Health at James Madison University.


Dean Noel Zahler
J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts
Texas Tech University 

Dr. Noel Zahler has been selected as the new dean for the College of Visual & Performing Arts (VPA) at Texas Tech University. Dr. Zahler comes with a background in Performing Arts, Communications and Design at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University (LIU).
Prior to coming to Texas Tech, Zahler was dean of the College of Arts, Communication and Design at Long Island University (LIU). He was head of the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University for four years and University of Minnesota for three years. He spent 20 years at Connecticut College, ending his career there as the Sylvia Pasternak Marx Professor of Music.

While at LIU, Zahler increased recruitment among international students, authored articulation agreements with institutions in Norway, Saudi Arabia, Italy, China and others and created a Summer High School Honors Institute residency program for prospective students. He also worked with other colleges on campus, including the School of Health Professions and Nursing and the College of Management, to create collaborative programs.

Zahler holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from City University of New York’s Queens College, a master of fine arts degree from Princeton University and a doctor of musical arts from Columbia University as well as a Certificato di Perfezionamento from L’Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy. He also has studied at The Juilliard School. He is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including a National Endowment for the Arts Consortium Commission, a Fulbright/Hayes Fellowship and an Aaron Copland Foundation Grant. Zahler has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Italian National Research Council.


Dean Todd Queen
Penniman Family Professor of Music
College of Music and Dramatic Arts
Louisiana State University

Dr. Todd Queen was recently appointed as Dean of the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts. Prior to his appointment, he served as professor of Voice and Chair of the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance in the College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University. His unique combination of teaching, directing and performing experience has allowed him to travel the world as a teacher, stage director and singer.

Queen has recently cultivated those experiences in a new direction, working as an arts administrator and international arts ambassador. Queen has traveled to Asia on multiple occasions to forge a partnership with East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai, where he was named Visiting Professor. In 2011 Queen co-founded Opera Orvieto, a three-week summer intensive Italian operatic experience, where he served as Artistic and Stage Director. During his time at CSU, Queen helped bring in gifts and pledges totaling more than $2 million to the department, including ten new endowed scholarships and the naming of the Charles and Reta Ralph Opera Center at CSU, one of a handful of named opera programs in the United States.

In 2012 Queen was the catalyst in forming the LEAP (Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Arts Advocacy and the Public) Institute for the Arts at Colorado State, an interdisciplinary academic unit that houses both an undergraduate minor and graduate program in arts leadership and administration.

Todd Queen joined the CSU voice faculty in 2001 as Assistant Professor of Voice and Director of Colorado State Opera Theatre. Dr. Queen earned the DMA and MM degrees from the prestigious Eastman School of Music after completing his undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University.


Arny Nadler, Moderator
Associate Professor of Art and Chair of Undergraduate Art
Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts
Washington University in St. Louis

Arny Nadler is a sculptor and associate professor in the Sam Fox School, where he is chair of undergraduate art. In 2013, Nadler was awarded a $20,000 Regional Arts Commission Fellowship. He has also received a George Sugarman Foundation grant and two Faculty Creative Research Grants from Washington University. In 2012, Gallery 210 at the University of Missouri-St. Louis commissioned him to create the permanent, site-specific sculpture Whelm. Nadler has exhibited his work—from outdoor installations in steel to hand-built ceramic pieces—at galleries, biennials, and universities across the country, including the Newport Beach-California Civic Center, Evanston Art Center, Turchin Art Center, Sculpture Key West, Kingston Sculpture Biennial, Maryland Hall Center for the Creative Arts, Millikin University, Western Michigan University, Rockland Center for the Arts, University of Alabama-Huntsville, and the Mitchell Museum. His work has been reviewed in Art in America and other notable publications. Nadler has presented at Foundations in Art: Theory and Education Conference and the Mid-America College Art Association Conference, and he has been a visiting artist at several universities and colleges. Nadler earned his MFA in Sculpture from Cranbrook Academy of Art and his BFA in Sculpture from Washington University in St. Louis.


Integrating Creativity into Living Learning Communities

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Emerging as an important topic at the 2015 a2ru National Conference, this webinar will present information from three distinct living learning community models:

Living Arts, University of Michigan – an interdisciplinary maker community for first and second year students studying the arts, humanities, architecture and engineering and housed within the ArtsEngine program.

The Entrepreneurial Community at Infinity Hall, University of Florida – an interdisciplinary learning center that supports student’ expression of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in a dynamic academic and business oriented environment.

Creative Expressions, Musical Motifs, and From Novel to Big Screen, Northeastern University – three arts-focused living learning communities that are among those in which all first-year students are enrolled.

Our panelists for this webinar include Dr. Mark Jones, Program Director for Living Arts at the University of Michigan; Dr. Anthony Kolenic, Assistant Dean of Research, Technology and Administrative Affairs at the University of Florida; Dr. T.J. Logan, Director of Housing for Administrative Services at the University of Florida. and Kara Curcio, Assistant Director for Residential Life at Northeastern University.

Participants will:

• Gain an understanding of three very different living learning community models, all of which use creative curricular and co-curricular production to increase student learning and help students move toward their chosen careers.

• Learn how each community helps its host institution improve student retention, recruitment and engagement.

• Learn about the challenges encountered by these communities, about how institutions structure and support them, and how students believe these environments are meeting their academic, social/emotional and aspirational needs.

Moderating the webinar is Alan MacVey, Professor/Chair of the Theatre Arts Dept. and Director of the Division of Performing Arts at University of Iowa; and Deb Mexicotte, a2ru Associate Director.


Creating Faculty-Driven Catalysts for Sustainable Collaborations

February 26, 2016

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Presented first as an outstanding and important session at the recent a2ru 2015 Annual Conference, Groundworks, this webinar explores how a team at the University of Utah created an innovative and low-cost faculty driven model to foster transdisciplinary research by engaging individual researchers from widely different disciplines around a common theme in ways that will move their own and others’ fields forward.

This diverse panel of participating faculty and staff from the University of Utah includes Nalini Nadkarni, Professor, Department of Biology; Glenn Prestwich, Presidential Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Director of the Entrepreneurial Faculty Scholars; Sarah Hinners, Acting Director of the Ecological Planning Center, and Assistant Research Professor, Department of City and Metropolitan Planning; Russ Isabella, Professor, Department of Family and Consumer Studies; and Ellen Bromberg, Distinguished Professor, Department of Modern Dance.

Gain an understanding of the impetus and process for beginning a major cross-campus collaborative symposium, the benefits to participating faculty’s professional development and practice, the small supports needed to sustain the initiative, and finally, the robust and continuing curricular and research impacts derived from this shared work.

Moderating the discussion is Deb Mexicotte, a2ru Associate Director and Lauren Fretz Thompson, a2ru Education Specialist.

The webinar concludes with a 15 minute Q & A from the audience.


Curricular and Co-Curricular Trends

April 23, 2015

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Moderating the discussion is Mark Law, Ph.D., Director of the Honors Program and Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Florida.

To begin, Bruce Mackh, Ph.D., Mellon Research Project Director from University of Michigan’s ArtsEngine, highlights national trends in curricular and co-curricular models, obstacles, strategies, costs, and impacts resulting from a three-year study funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (20 min)

Carmon Colangelo, Dean of the Sam Fox School of Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, and Lauren Lake, Chair of the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, then discuss the range of issues facing curriculum development on their own campuses, as well as what the future may hold (20 min)

The second conversation, featuring Eric Beatty, Director of the Homewood Arts Program at Johns Hopkins University and Deb Mexicotte, Program Director of Arts at Michigan, focuses on co-curricular efforts and emerging directions on their campuses (20 min)

The webinar concludes with a 30 min Q & A from the audience.