The School of the Arts has encountered numerous hurdles due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but thanks to the hard work of its faculty and staff and the resilience of its students, we are entering this fall with our largest enrollment. The fall looks different, but through diligent and creative planning, students are experiencing in-person learning and continuing their educational journey on campus.
Last year, the School of the Arts equipped the arts community with iPads in order to create a common teaching platform. This learning tool and training in a number of innovative applications made it possible to shift teaching as needed to in-person, hybrid and virtual delivery of course materials. Samford Arts continues to rely on the iPads to enrich curriculum but remarkably, 86% of Samford’s classes have an in-person component this semester.
Despite the limitations of hosting public events and guest artists on campus, our student events will be available through a new arts livestream channel, and our guest artists will work with students virtually, hosting masterclasses and interactive sessions. Guest artists will include Brian Nabors, Invoke, Sandbox Percussion, Rachel Barton Pine and Misha Dichter. The Art Gallery continues to host shows for the Samford community and has plans to share artist talks through virtual access.
The School of the Arts will focus on authentic means to effect change in racial injustice. The first Art Gallery exhibit, The Dream Deferred, features printmakers responding to the killing of George Floyd. This fall, a partnership is underway with Miles College to host multiple events that use the arts and humanities to address racial inequity. The Samford Diversity Series, designed and presented entirely by students, will present programs in the spring that allow diversity projects to be realized. Service-learning projects for both student and faculty are being established to work with our community in a greater way. School of the Arts faculty and staff will workshop with Samford’s Office of Diversity to build skills for developing community and justice.
New programs in commercial music and game design and 3D animation are off to a promising start with enrolled students. A 5-year architecture program will start its first cohort Fall 2021 pending SACSCOC approvals. Additionally, we are hopeful about launching a new online Masters in Art in Worship Leadership soon.
The Catalyst Curriculum turns four this year and seniors are already preparing their capstone projects that incorporate entrepreneurship, professional development and arts in society. More in depth information on these will be featured on the website in the coming months.
Samford’s Academy of the Arts is continuing with both in-person and virtual offerings this fall. The Center for Worship and the Arts pivoted their summer program to a virtual Animate Flex with great success and is providing the worship community with creative resources.
Samford is committed to maintaining a safe environment for our students and to continue with success until we complete fall term at Thanksgiving. Safety measures have been put in place across the campus, and additional precautions and protocols are part of the School of the Arts COVID-19 plan. Dean Hopkins encouraged students in a joint virtual school meeting to, “roll up your sleeves and get to work. You are likely to learn more this year than ever before. Like the Greatest Generation that was shaped in the depression and tested in WWII, you have the opportunity to become the next great generation.”