In 1984 I had the honor and privilege of carrying the Olympic Torch. Now on the dawn of the 2016 Rio Olympics, I think about the symbolic significance of the Olympics and how it intersects with our endeavors here in the College of Fine Arts and Communication.
The modern Olympic movement was founded on the values of excellence, friendship, and respect, with a goal of not only promoting sports, but also culture and education, with an overall view to building a better world. Our work in the College is rooted in similar values and similar aims. As we face a world seemingly rife with conflict and violence, how can our work as teachers, scholars, and artists effect change? Our expertise in communication, both in its theory and in its application, provides a conduit to promote dialogue that presents the knowledge and understanding to foster dialogue that can bridge a divided world. Likewise, our artistic expression can be a source of insight into our fundamental humanity, a balm of healing for our wounds, as well as a celebration of human creativity.
The Olympic Motto–‘Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger)’–challenges us to strive for excellence in teaching, research, and service. It encourages us to foster opportunities for students to exceed their initial expectations, to help them unlock their untapped potential. It demands that we continually innovate, to insure that we are offering our students the cutting-edge knowledge and skills they need to succeed in an ever-evolving world.
To fulfill that motto of going faster, higher, and stronger, we need to understand and appreciate our own culture within the college, the foundation of excellence on which we are building. The ensuing pages provide a glimpse of our own “Olympic medalists,” those colleagues who have won awards as well as those who embody the values of fellowship that make our college a human-centered enterprise, with faculty, staff, and students striving for a common goal of fulfilling potential and treating each other with dignity and respect.
Beyond the individuals recognized here, I am immensely proud of the team effort and shared sacrifice that has gone into creating academic programs that rank among the finest in the country. Since the 2014 opening of the Performing Arts Center, a sampling of external accolades includes:
- Theatre, #9 Performing Arts Program in the country
- Dance, #10 undergraduate program in the country
- Art, #13 undergraduate program in the country
- KTSW, #9 college radio station in the country
- Musical Theatre, #7 program in the country
- Communication Studies, #3 Master’s program in the country
- Communication Design, top 11 Master’s program in the country
- Opera, the #3 ranked production in the country
- Numerous award-winning Music ensembles
These national rankings are largely based upon the quality of the faculty, the talent of the students, and the successes of the alumni. At the same time, I recognize that part of my job as dean is to help secure the resources, the facilities, and the donor support necessary for us to thrive and achieve our goals.
A city that hosts the Olympics becomes a destination, and in the same vein I believe that Texas State has become a destination for the fine arts and communication. For faculty, staff, students, and audiences, Texas State is now a preferred destination, a place that provides a quality work environment, top-notch academics, cutting-edge research, and first-rate art experiences.
As a College, the quality of our scholarly research, artistic expression, grant production, and applied communications are all increasing. With our new Performing Arts Center, renovated facilities, and C3 Research Center, the future is ever-brighter as we continue to excel across all disciplines. Likewise, our innovative CoSearch weekend incubates collaborative research that is becoming the gold standard in cross-disciplinary work.
In closing, I encourage everyone to embrace those Olympic values of excellence, friendship, and respect. When we do, we make a difference in the lives of our students, and we create the conditions that can transform our community, our society, and the world at large. The Olympic dream lives in our striving to use education and culture as building blocks of a new and better world.
John Fleming, Dean
August 1, 2016