Dear Alumni, Parents, Friends, and Colleagues,
The end of the academic year is a great time to reflect on what we have accomplished and look forward to what is in store for next year. Most importantly, we celebrate the achievements of our class of 2017 and wish them well as they step into the next stage of their lives. For some students like Michelle Runyon (Spanish and History), this next step is directly into a job. For other grads like Will Thomas (Chemistry), the next step is graduate school. We wish all of our graduates every success and welcome them to the wonderful family of SCU alumni.
We declared 2016-17 as SCU's “Year of the Arts,” and what a year it was! The opening of the beautiful Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building, home to our department artists and art historians, brings new opportunities to our University and the local community. While Studio Art seniors exhibited their work in the building's impressive gallery and we hosted our first Visiting Artist, Amer Kobaslija, Art Historian James Elkins gave the inaugural Visiting Scholar lecture followed by a faculty seminar and visits throughout the department. In addition, students and faculty from a variety of disciplines began working on projects using virtual reality (VR) technology in the Imaginarium space.
Our inaugural Frank Sinatra Artists-in-Residence were the Silk Road Ensemble, whose album, Sing Me Home, Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, won the 2017 Grammy for Best World Music Album. Several members of the Ensemble visited SCU throughout the year, engaging our students in classes and rehearsals. Even better, several of our very gifted students and faculty performed on stage with the global musicians.
We also welcomed Anna Deavere Smith, our inaugural Frank Sinatra Scholar-Artist-in-Residence and winner of the 2017 George Polk Career Award, one of the top awards in journalism. Smith performed several times on campus and worked with faculty and students in the Department of Theatre and Dance on Welcome to Claradise, an original production that utilized Smith's devised theatre technique.
In addition to these talented artists, we hosted Nobel Prize winner (Chemistry, 2012) Brian Kobilka, M.D. as speaker for the Gerald and Sally DeNardo Lectureship and the amazingly talented Lidia Bastianich, for the Vari Italian Symposium. Our Center for the Arts and Humanities launched the Faculty Fellows and Student Fellows programs under the direction of the Center's inaugural director, Dennis Gordon (Political Science).
As we look forward to the next academic year, we are very excited to launch a new contest centered in the Imaginarium. The Imagine That! design challenge will engage teams in virtual reality supported by Silicon Valley industry experts. This will be a great opportunity for our students to learn new technology and apply those skills – and their own creativity – to problems we face today. I can’t wait to see what they do.
Thanks to all who have supported this great work. Please make sure to stay connected with us—we would love to see you on campus!
Debbie Tahmassebi, Dean