Student embroidering

Critique wall

CLAS on the Green

Chris C talks to Ann K about her work

May 2012
Vol. 5, issue 10

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.

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Faculty E-newsletter CLAS Acts


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

As we bid our graduates a fond farewell, we should also celebrate our long-serving colleagues who are commencing into retirement.  In our own office, Pam Kellogg had the audacity to leave after more than 25 years of university service.  Thanks to all of you who came out to her celebration.  And make a note, a celebration for Jan Robinson of the CLAS Academic Advising Center, who will retire on June 1, will take place on May 31 (3-5pm, Alumni House). Art & Design bade farewell to Barb Farah who was part of their office staff.  Geology is wishing affiliate Larry Fegel all the very best in his retirement, and Professor Lois Tyson of English, after 23 years at GVSU-not to mention the Distinguished Contribution in a Discipline Award in 1996 and the Outstanding Teacher Award in 1994-will leave us with a wonderful example. As many of you know, Cindy Laug took on the position vacated when Pam retired.  Tracy McLenithan then assumed Cindy's role.  Tracy has worked at Grand Valley State University since 1998 and brings experience working in Health Professions and our Psychology Department and from her B.S. in Business Administration.  Our office can be a steep learning curve, but Tracy has settled right in. And we have seen great things from those in the very midst of their roles.  Our Sabbatical Showcase on April 4, our biggest ever, received very warm reviews and helped to make some important connections between faculty who had not met before or who were not aware of the nature of one another's work.  We also ate some great food and had the fun of each other's fellowship.  You can review the CLAS governance chairs' reports and my state-of-the-college address on the website. Now we enter May. 

Grades are due in Banner before noon on May 1.  This is an important deadline (not just a guideline in the Pirates of the Caribbean sense) because it affects students and staff when we have holes or errors.  Much rides on the reports that are generated as soon as Banner closes-scholarships, graduation, good standing, and prerequisites.  Missing grades mean that staff must chase faculty who are already travelling or on to other activities. The report itself can't wait because it takes hours to run and Records staffers stay after hours until it is done.  So I thank you in advance for making sure you double check your entries and hit submit before noon! Special thanks to those governance committees still meeting to complete tasks such as making priority recommendations on hiring for next year.  Your service makes our processes robust and inclusive. I wish you all a refreshing and fruitful summer. Whether you will be making art, reading, in the lab or field, travelling, or taking some time to reflect, we know (even if the media sometimes forget)  that whether on contract or off, faculty are always involved in a process of self-improvement in relation to their teaching, service and scholarship.  I hope that your process can be coaxed into the sunshine at some point.  If you need assistance in that regard, please read the item about our upcoming scholarship benefit-the first CLAS on the Green golf outing on June 20.  Refresh and recharge-you've earned it.  

On the afternoon of Wednesday, June 20, 2012, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will host the first ever CLAS on the Green golf outing. Come enjoy The Meadows with faculty, staff and alumni. Fun activities and a chance to catch up while you help our students. All proceeds will benefit CLAS Scholarships. Gather a group to play or suggest a contribution to the event that you and your colleagues might make. Contact Paul Stephenson by e-mail. Registration.

What the Deans are Doing in May

"May is a very busy month for me," Fred says.  "A Hauenstein Leadership Board meeting helps start out the month, preceding a trip to Traverse City for Grand Valley's annually wonderful graduation event up there.  There's a Deans' Council meeting, the Foundation's Spring Reception and the CLAS Staff Advisory Board meeting scheduled among a number of individual meetings.  All this is prior to going to Philadelphia for the meeting of the American Council of Learned Societies.  There will be a meeting of the Deans' Academic Advising Committee, and I'll be working a few orientations.  Salary recommendation work also takes place mid-month.  Then I go to the Rhetoric Society of America conference.  At the end of the month, we'll be orienting some new Woodrow Wilson Fellows, and attending some retirement parties.  So for those of you who've asked 'has it slowed down yet?,' talk to me in June!" The timely reporting of final grades is the focus at the beginning of the month for AD Mary Schutten. She will be supporting student success by continuing to work with Records to create efficiencies, most notably the change in the prerequisite error process (more automation).  She is busy with many collaborative efforts with the College of Education related to teacher preparation including coordinating the curricular proposals related to the ED 431, student teaching pilot program.   She continues to implement and assess degree cognate substitution requests, support the work of the CLAS Academic Advising Center including interview candidates for the senior advisor position and registration and orientation activities, and participate on the review team for the newly revised Michigan Model for Health high school curriculum.  She will continue the service learning, internship, co-curricular student learning data gathering process. AD Gary Stark will monitor Summer, Fall, and Winter enrollments and assist units with meeting student demand.  He will also process course change requests, facilitate associate deans' and Faculty Council's review and prioritization of new position requests, assist the dean in prioritizing and budgeting for new position requests, conduct  annual COT evaluations, assist unit heads with the hiring of visiting faculty, and make final arrangements for an Honors freshman study abroad program to Germany and Poland. In May, Associate Dean Shaily Menon will attend the MI-ACE network conference in Lansing and make a presentation together with Connie Dang, Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs. She will review self-study and assessment reports due from six programs in May, work on revising and updating the college strategic plan, begin reporting on progress towards college strategic goals for this year, and work on a data entry and tracking project with Julie Guevara and a Special Projects Graduate Assistant. She will also work on developing an events planning folder and organizing college events for the next academic year. Shaily will participate in Gen Ed Issues meetings for conversion of a Theme course to an Issues course and will advise graduate students on their thesis research.


Special Permission and Sufficient Demand

By Monica Johnstone, PhD, Dir. of CLAS Communications & Advancement  

ART 380 - Special Topics in Art and Design A course built around a  special project or media with limited or topical significance and offered on a very limited basis. Students must seek special permission of the instructor for entry into any 380 course. Offered on sufficient demand.

Teaching a course in one's own research specialty can be a rare privilege.  There are foundation courses to cover and perhaps no undergraduate degree emphasis here at GVSU in one's scholarly bailiwick.  But every once in a while, a professor gets a chance to introduce students to that area of passionate and abiding interest. For Professor Ann Keister of Art & Design, not only was this one of those special occasions, she believes it will be her last one before retirement.  This term Art 380-Special Topics in Art & Design would introduce its dozen students to textiles. As evident in the beautiful work on display at the 2011 Sabbatical Showcase, Ann Keister transforms antique kimono silk, beads, and floss into something evocative of other places, architectures, and decorative arts.  Her sabbatical entitled "Embellished Textiles and Collaborative Experimentation: Layering, Appropriation, Transformation - Images, Materials, Techniques, Cultures" was clearly successful. And in Winter 2012, she has had the opportunity to put the techniques, materials and inspirational images of the textile art world in front of her talented students to see where their journeys would lead. I had been not so patiently waiting for the opportunity to take this class when the rotation and circumstances allowed.  So I paid my materials fee in STU at the cashier's window, packed up my sewing supplies, and hoped that a middle-aged seamstress and quilter could hold her own among the art students with real drawing, painting, printing, sculpture, metal working, and color theory chops. As it turned out, the generosity of the instructor and the students quickly allowed me to find my niche.  Ann specializes in exquisite hand work, only occasionally using her sewing machine.  She took this as an opportunity and requested that I do a few machine demonstrations.  She encouraged me by calling me "The Ringer".  Meanwhile, I was learning to bead properly, try new embroidery stitches and create work from very new-to-me sorts of prompts-image repetition, digital printing on fabric, and influences of contemporary fiber artists.  Perhaps newest to me was the regular and serious process of critique.  Up on the wall our work would go for patient and reflective group analysis and recommendations. At the bench, you can see the talent of the students and the process of creation; on the wall you bring out their analytic and critical thinking skills, oral communication, and discipline in taking and giving constructive feedback. In my fellow students I found a hunger to match their strong concepts to viable techniques.  This is well suited by a pedagogy that intentionally allows each student to become part of the fiber of the teaching.  Their oral presentations sought out the rich images of other artists in traditional and contemporary fiber arts sparking ideas they just needed to find a way to implement.  Textiles are, almost by definition, created a stitch at a time, built up from thread or deconstructed from larger cloth.  Reconfigured, embellished, over-printed, recolored, distressed, layered.  Nothing about this is quick, and multiple techniques exist for even basic operations.  The search for techniques becomes peripatetic.  Students regularly make circuits of the tables. It was not unusual to find an eager classmate at one's elbow.  "Okay, I need to know how to do that," she'd say.  On my own walkabouts, I found myself awed at what their young eyes could see to do in such exquisite detail, such as seed stitch so small you at first thought it was printed on the fabric.  Their boldness allowed them to marry metalwork and cloth, to restrict themselves to just the cloth available in scrubs and hospital gowns, to take on heavy themes in gossamer media, and to be open to mixing materials as disparate as silk embroidery and soil. Half the fun and wonder of the class was seeing the transformations, week to week.  "I thought you were working on that print of a galaxy."  "Changed my mind," he'd say displaying a work of an entirely different concept, precise and fascinating, that hadn't existed a week before. For those who can't help but "make", working alongside others is in itself a joy and also fosters perspectives impossible to gain alone.  I was working on parts of my final project when metal-smith professor Renee Zettle-Sterling made a quick visit to our class.  She placed a part of my project against her lapel and noted that it would "make a good broach."   The relationship of that part to the whole was instantly changed for me. At the final critique on April 26, all three of our major projects were installed in waves on the critique wall. Between slices of Papa John's and Diet Coke, we examined our classmates' work up close and allowed ourselves to touch as textiles seem to demand.  The work was full of transformations.  One project earlier noted as using "Easter colors" was now darkly evocative--even mysterious and edgy--through a process of overdyeing.  Those whose first two projects were sublime in their perfect construction were answered by a final piece that deconstructed the fabric itself.  The class rose up in protest when a student suggested she was not going in use in her finished piece a polar bear she had embroidered; said bear was a particular favorite of the other students.  Lobbying on behalf of that thread bear (no pun intended) continued for some minutes.  In every case, the comments were directed at the improvement of the work, its fuller appreciation, and never at the expense of the maker. To close our time together, Ann announced that a show date in the Calder Art Center for our work had been secured in January 2013. E-mail addresses were jotted on a sheet of paper lest we lose track of the graduating seniors in the meantime.  An artist's card was made available, some plans to connect on Facebook were made, the work was stacked and folded up, the pizza boxes rescued for composting, and the fabric of our class separated into its individual threads once again.