CLAS Acts July 2008

Roger Ellis, Theatre, and students

July 2008  Volume 1, Issue 11
Our Mission: The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a student-centered and diverse learning community that engages in critical inquiry extending knowledge to enrich and enliven individual and public life.

CLAS College Office Monthly Newsletter for Faculty

UNESCO  Traveling Fellowship  
Call for applications for the Fall/Winter 2008 cycle of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellowship.  This fellowship will help fund a proposal designed by the applicant--a U.S. undergraduate or graduate student between the ages of 18-25--to conduct brief work in a foreign country related to the mandate of UNESCO - using education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and/or communication and information to build strong ties among nations.    

Write About Ravines for the Review The Grand Valley Review is soliciting writing or research based on the Ravines at GVSU. The W 09 issue will be devoted entirely to the Ravines.  Many at GVSU have come to understand the Ravines through the lens of their discipline and the "Ravine Issue" hopes to gather this diverse knowledge in a single place. Please share your research in geology, anthropology, history, biology, ornithology as well as creative writing, musings or anecdotes. Flora, fauna, soil, bird, tree "inventories", or human histories would be of particular interest to a broad audience but all ways of knowing the Ravines are welcome. Contact Chris Haven or Dellas Henke with proposals or questions (due October 1st).      

NSF Upcoming Due Date Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program   Full Proposal Deadline Date: July 22, 2008 Program Guidelines: NSF 08-557 "CAREER": The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating ... More at    

West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference The second annual West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference will be held at the Van Andel Institute on Saturday November 1. GVSU is a joint sponsor of this conference with Calvin, Hope and Aquinas Colleges as well as the Van Andel Institute. This conference is a great venue for our students to present their research in a poster session format. Like last year, registration will be free and lunch will be provided.        


Frederick J. Antczak, Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

The Dean's Office staff enters July with a new perspective from Mackinac Hall and with many new neighbors from Philosophy, Modern Languages, Movement Sciences and Geography & Planning.  In the midst of the move we managed to complete our College's submission of resources for the NCA accreditation team and to prepare the first Quadrennial Report of the College, which will be available at the end of the summer.  A Call for Entries went out to our alumni for films and videos to be shown at our Homecoming film festival, Mindgating.  The faculty hires were completed, the contracts written and finalized, and interviews for open AP positions conducted-despite the moving boxes. Much of this work involved committee chairs, unit heads and whole departments, not just the College Office staff.  I'm very grateful for your assistance at a time of year when many offices are not as completely staffed and many faculty members are on the move. It's my pleasure to announce that two of our interim positions have been converted to permanent status.  Karen Meyers will continue to lead the Regional Math & Science Center as its Director and Betty Schaner will be the first Director of our new CLAS Academic Advising Center.  I encourage you all to congratulate and support these colleagues in these challenging and vital roles. During July, I will be covering duties of the associate dean for students and curriculum with regard to orientation and transitions planning, while working on some of our fall startup activities.  Associate Dean Gary Stark will be serving as interim unit head of Art & Design, doing enrollment management for Fall, and planning the Unit Heads Retreat in August.  This month Associate Dean Jann Joseph will be working on the College's Fall Start Up meeting, the Faculty Staff Campaign, Faculty Research and Development support and continued planning for CLAS facilities. As you can see, not much slows down in the summer, and that is well demonstrated by faculty news.  John Philbin and the whole To Live or Die in Dixie team are basking in the glow of last week's public opening at Studio 28 of Michigan's first university produced feature film.  I wonder if Brad Wallar has stopped smiling yet about the $460,000 NSF grant that will allow him to do cutting edge research in biochemistry with a dozen students.  The news has been full of references to CLAS faculty, from David Leonard on his enzyme research to AWRI's Al Steinman on lake levels and his colleague Rick Rediske on algae blooms.  And I'd like to thank the faculty from Political Science, Mathematics, School of Communications and Psychology for stepping up when the call came to provide experts relevant to the upcoming Presidential election for the News and Information website which is now under development.  May your summer continue to bring good news and new beginnings.     Is there a topic you would like to see covered in this faculty newsletter? E-mail suggestions to

Faculty and Students Feature

Theatre Students Participate In International Festival

By Roger Ellis, School of Communications 

Grand Valley Theatre students made their way to the Canadian Maritime Provinces in Spring semester as participants in the 9 th biennial Liverpool International Theatre Festival.  They joined hundreds of Canadian and other international artists visiting Nova Scotia between May 13-19 and completed a service learning project in arts management under the supervision of faculty member Roger Ellis.  Theatre students have been traveling overseas on such projects since 1998, putting their Grand Valley skills in the playhouse to work for international festivals in North and South America, and in return gaining valuable exposure to global artists and their work.  At festivals in Venezuela and Canada, theatre students typically help organizers by assisting with technical stage setups, program preparation, airport transfers, events management and performing other tasks. They attend regular staff meetings and educational outreach activities in local schools; and they mingle freely with international artists in workshops, discussions and nightly social events.    This year's intercultural arts experience included students Evin Anderson (sophomore Business/Theatre double-major), Lauren Gregory, (senior Theatre major), Hannah Gaff (senior Classics/Theatre double-major), and Sara Vazquez (senior Theatre major). 

GVSU students Lauren Gregory and Hannah Gaff help prepare programs with Slovakian actors backstage in Liverpool's Astor Theatre Their Canadian project suffered only one glitch: sophomore Evin Andersen dislocated his shoulder during one of the acting workshops, while Nepalese actor/director Ashesh Malla was explaining to participants how to "move fluidly like weeds and waves."  After a few hours of treatment in the local hospital, Anderson was released but had to shorten his stay and return early to Michigan. "It's vital that our students gain this kind of exposure to global arts," declares Prof. Ellis.  "In Michigan they rarely have opportunities to see first-hand the work of Muslim political playwrights from Syria, European circus-inspired comedy from Slovakia, Israeli community theatres or classic German cabaret from Stuttgart."  In addition, Grand Valley students are typically enthusiastic about the work they perform for these festivals and for the foreign troupes, Ellis points out.  "They're excited to see that what they've learned in Allendale really has a big payoff 'out there.'  They feel really useful!"    Many students participating in these service-learning study trips have also received training in the Theatre program's theme course, "Global Arts Performance and Management" which surveys the contemporary international arts activities of such groups as Cirque de Soleil, Augusto Boal, and Bread and Puppet Theatre.  Festival participation, however, also offers students opportunities for first-hand contact with "under the radar" groups from many lands.  Liverpool, for example, presented the work of companies from Wales, Algeria, Slovakia, the United States, Syria, Germany, Israel, North American tribal people, Nepal and Canada.   

The Liverpool Festival is one of a dozen major theatre festivals worldwide on the "global festival circuit" of amateur theatre.  Unlike such well known high-profile festivals like Edinburgh, Stratford and Spoleto, non-professional celebrations (of which Liverpool is typical) rely entirely on volunteer effort-artistically and managerially-and extend deep roots into their local communities.  In Nova Scotia, for example, GV students and their field study director were accommodated (or "billeted") in home stays for the seven-day period.    Festival organizers in many lands are glad to have student help in producing events, and typically provide free accommodations, food, events tickets, and airport transfers for Grand Valley groups.  Students paid their own round-trip travel expenses to Halifax, and additional funding for this year's service-learning project was provided in part by the Johnson Center for Philanthropy.  

Photo: Roger Ellis with GVSU students Lauren Gregory, Hannah Gaff and Sara Vazquez as they discuss plays with stage directors Ashesh Malla (Nepal) and Gustav Frank (Germany)