News from Laurie Baefsky, a2ru Executive Director

a2ru News

June 13, 2018

Dear a2ru Colleagues and Friends,

I write today to thank you for four phenomenal years together—years of growth, program development, research and exploration, and discovery. In four short years, we’ve increased the footprint of our alliance, developed many resources and programs, and cultivated rich partnerships with as many academic and non-academic professional organizations. The rate of acceleration within technology and the rapid changing landscape of higher education mirrors a2ru’s growth and maturation and necessary place in higher education.

I also write to share with you the imminent news that I will be departing the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) at the end of June. I recently accepted an exciting new position in the College of Arts & Media at the University of Colorado Denver, as Associate Dean of Research, Collaboration, and Innovation, starting in fall 2018. With my family all living out west, it has become increasingly challenging to balance the scaling demands of a2ru and ArtsEngine at the University of Michigan with my personal and family obligations.

The last four years have been transformative. Together, as an alliance, we’ve built the now-international network of more than 40 top-ranking research universities, pushing the envelope on, and creating resources for, arts and design research and practice. It’s been an important journey, building a network of dedicated leaders committed to positioning arts and design centrally on our campuses and extending into our communities and broader society.

Some highlights of the past four years that stand out for me:

  • National conference themes spanning placemaking, sustainability and environments, entrepreneurship, and arts in health.

  • a2ru Emerging Creatives Student Summits centering on themes of water, urbanisms, community resilience, food & place, and spectacle.

  • Through the extreme generosity of the Mellon Foundation, a2ru and ArtsEngine National (the forerunner to a2ru) has received now $1.3M in support of our research efforts as well as for the development of arts integrative tools, platforms, and resources in higher education.

  • Platforms: In the recent couple of years, we’ve developed new platforms in placemaking in higher education (see The HUB), integrative scholarship, and a searchable data base for our qualitative research (see SPARC).

  • Research: Gabriel Harp, ArtsEngine/a2ru research director, recently developed this impacts map looking at the impacts of arts and design in higher education and his latest research brief, based on our 2012 data set, “What is Research?”. Additional a2ru research resources can be found on our new website.

  • Connecting Knowledge: Other supporting resources developed to help meet the needs of our growing network include numerous Student Travel grants, Student Challenge grants, and Faculty Fellows grants for early-career partners. We are about to launch a new a2ru Scholars Program to diversify and create a more inclusive network.

  • Workshops: a2ru’s most recent work this spring includes a2ru’s delivery of four leadership workshops on tenure & promotionforesight & collaborationarts & public health, and an amplification workshop to forward campus collaboration.

  • Empowering Leaders: with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), a2ru served as a committee member on their joint consensus report just issued in May 2018 on integrative education. This was followed by a NASEM-a2ru executive leadership think tank in Washington, D.C. on May 24-25 with 75 thought leaders across higher education, philanthropy, industry and numerous professional organizations. This provided strong validation of the criticality of a2ru’s core mission of connecting knowledge and empowering leadership, with more on the horizon to do the longer-range work ahead.

The current ArtsEngine/a2ru staff, a2ru executive committee, and ArtsEngine leadership are eager to move forward with this important agenda.

I am proud to share with you an a2ru presentation of current programming delivered on May 25, 2018 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. to a group of 75 executive leaders in higher education, philanthropy, and professional national organizations spanning arts, humanities and STEMM fields, including medicine. This presentation outlines where we’ve been and where a2ru is going in the years just ahead.

As I transition, I look forward to embedding in a2ru in a fresh way, as an engaged partner in research, collaboration, and innovation. I am also really looking forward to stepping back and reflecting on the past four years, doing some writing and re-invigorating my own professional practice as a musician and early music scholar, as well as working more locally in the Denver region toward a shared future, being driven and infused by arts, design, and diverse modes of creativity.

Thanks to our a2ru leadership, staff, and partners for getting us here! I look forward to a2ru’s dynamic future and evolving connections with all of you in the years ahead.

Warmest regards,

Laurie Baefsky, Executive Director
ArtsEngine / Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities