We are creators and thinkers; crafters of language, clay, canvas and metal. We invent new perspectives, and reimagine our world for the common good. Our artistry and humanistic thinking are the basis for all of human communication, productivity, and creativity.
As the foundational cornerstone of the University, the Arts and Humanities are at the heart and soul of a journey of learning and discovery that flows like a river, unfettered, on a daily basis.
We envision the future of our College, Fresno State, and our Valley as one that is intrinsically interwoven with the values and gifts our disciplines espouse, because it is through the Arts and Humanities that a fulfilling and productive life is possible.
With the creation of the President’s Commission on the Future of Arts and Humanities, we look forward to the near future when we can start to seek community support for the building of the Center for Arts and Humanities –a space where we can showcase our world-class performances and renowned artistic exhibitions, and engage our community with public forums that promote a literary and philosophical exploration of the rich and diverse fabric of our Valley.
We are the fortunate university that houses the Philip Levine Reading Room –a beautiful space in the Henry Madden Library that keeps the poet’s personal library, and serves as a creative space for the MFA Program. Provost Lynnette Zelezny, Vice President for Administration Debbie Astone, and Dean Peter McDonald helped our College secure this privilege. Associate Dean Honora Chapman and Lori Pardi took the lead in making sure all the details were worthy of such a special space. With the Philip Levine Reading Room now we celebrate, more than ever, the creative principle of immanence that poetry represents to Fresno.
With the financial support of President Castro and Provost Lynnette Zelezny, our Chamber Singers helped the U.S. Library of Congress honor Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. Together with Provost Zelezny and Associate Dean Chapman, I witnessed history in the making: Herrera, a son of our Valley, created a poetic imaginary that soared through the air fused with wondrous musical notes; it was a celebration of the playful fusion of our Valley languages and cultures, and a reinvention of the meaning of existence, that left us exploring the world with eyes of optimism.
I am forever grateful to Provost Zelezny for joining us, and for her unwavering support. Our amazing Chamber singers, who come from different majors on campus, showcased the limitless talent our Valley has to offer. And our music professors Benjamin Boone and Kenneth Froelich created magic that day, setting poetic imagery to music in five newly commissioned compositions – directed magnificently by professor Cari Earnhart.
We are also deeply grateful to Provost Zelezny for the creation of the Laureate Lab-Visual Wordist Studio, a space in the Henry Madden Library that serves as a forge for performance, poetry, visual arts, song, and movement. It is here where Juan Felipe Herrera will continue to create, innovate, and collaborate with our community in the creation of a poetic universe that celebrates the rich tapestry of our region.
As a College, we artists and Humanists have much to celebrate. We are pioneers in Armenian Studies, a program that celebrated 40 years of excellence and international recognition, and is the leader in community involvement and student participation.
We also have much to celebrate in regards to the excellent faculty we have hired recently –by next Fall, we will have 42 new faculty in a matter of just 18 months! With more hires coming next year, we are a vital community of scholars and artists that strives for student success, academic excellence, and artistic exploration.
It is rewarding to see how each one of our disciplines, from MCLL to English, MCJ to Communication, Music, Theatre Arts, Art and Design, Linguistics, and Philosophy, is thriving in productive creativity.
We artists and humanists hold this kernel of wisdom close to our hearts: Our lives and our potential are not limited by a static identity, by a form that must be followed, nor by a history that must be repeated, but rather by our ability to act, to move, to create, and to reinvent ourselves into beings who read the world and reimagine it in a better way. It is this legacy, one championed by our alumni, such as Robert Hirth, and professors, such as Bradley Huft, that provides the impetus for our sense of community.
Thank you for joining us in this journey of celebration, creation, and thought, dear alumni and friends, and for contributing with your support and contribution to the path of excellence we have charted together.