An introduction to a Dean of Arts blog.

I am an Artist, and a Dean of Arts. I have many years of experience pursuing my own art, and being an Arts Education Administrator.  In this communication I  will share with artists, students, parents of artists, managers of projects and people, and college administrators about the beautiful world of arts, and education. I will also add experiences in the many areas of education I have the opportunity to manage. As well, as life experiences along the way. Here we go…

You may know from the almost daily headlines from Obama, and many of our Governors across the nation, Higher Education is in a great state of change. The arts, continue to thrive even in the midst of the challenges to survive. I share your concerns and curiosities regarding the great education challenges we are facing as a nation. I interpret these challenges daily in my work as a Dean. I am highly active in deepening student learning and completion, and helping the arts thrive. I think most of us would agree that a world without art is not a world we want to be in . Despite our needs for wonderful scientists, and economist, and historians, and political scientist, and the list goes on (I value all of these great areas of knowledge)…we need our arts. Arts are known to create civility in the environments they inhabit. Civility is one of the beginning key to a harmonious life. The pursuit of education  I live this so fully I thought maybe, I might, have a few valuable thoughts to share with you.

I will attempt to digest some of the main challenges we face as artist and as educators at large in today’s world. It is my hope that these words and thoughts will bring some relief to what might have brought you here. To the questions that you may find yourself facing that brought you to this artist/Dean blog.

First thing to all of you students, faculty, and arts administrators, and parents of art students.

Most of us in the arts work two jobs! We do our jobs, whatever those titles be, and we make art. No matter the range of arts from commercial to fine we must make art. That is part of who we are and have chosen to be. For many artists the “day job” often called, is carefully calculated to not intrude too much on the time in the studio, stage, etc. Our arts faculty often if not always need this balance of time as well, to maintain their creative edge. Students need the time to be in the studio to develop. Practicing their creativity and building skills. Finding a balance between life attractions and demands, and art, is critical.

When the job or family obligations, or other distractions, becomes the focus beyond the art making, balance is threatened. In the younger years of being an artist it could be devastating to the student’s development to not get the time to take action and to discover their potential. Although, I have seen many artists thwarted in their youth come back to their art as an older adult. Being able to move forward uninterrupted is preferred.

For faculty in the arts, they need their time making art. It is critical to their freshness and joy as an instructor. Being it, doing it, and teaching it. That’s Joy. Joy is important as an instructor. Having joy in the classroom, be it face to face or online, is a core element to student’s success. Bringing joy to learning, and to the discovery of the subject. Well, my guest, it is a high component of learning.

For all of you arts administrators visiting. Please keep these thoughts in mind as you plan for students to have practice rooms, open studios to practice their talents, and scheduling faculty to have enough time to pursue their scholarly works in the arts.

To you parents, please if at all possible, find ways to less the distractions, burdens, and low self esteem escapes our children, your child, our student’s take in their journey.

For fellow administrators/deans of the arts, and all of you Department Chairs and Faculty that think deep down you might like to be a Dean some day. I know it generally takes 50 to 60 hour weeks to do what we do as Deans to make the arts education and the arts happen. We face the challenge of balance as well. I remind myself, that helping make artists is also making art. I also carve out the time to get in the studio as well. Interestingly, I find that during those absences from the studio due to long work weeks, or traveling, the ideas don’t leave me. They are there when I return. My painting and sculpture skills do not diminish when set aside. They are there for the doing when I carve out the time to once again return to the studio. I encourage you to stay active in your arts. It reminds us of our humanity when we delve into the world of managing projects and people.


Next time I will discuss the current challenges we are facing for “Completion” of college degrees in America. News from my attendance at a Federal Education Conference in Washington D.C. and what’s happening in education change.

Until then, enjoy the artist life and the arts… Dr. Huddleston

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