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Northwest Missouri State University


Department Spotlight November 2012

This month’s spotlight focuses on the newly realigned Department of Fine and Performing Arts.  The Department of Fine and Performing Arts includes three disciplines: Art, Music and Theatre.  These disciplines encourage creativity and show an enormous amount of dedication from both students and faculty. The department’s dynamic and stimulating work environment encourages, motivates, and provides continuous growth and creativity to the University as well as the surrounding region.

The core source for the department’s success can be credited to the passion and dedication of students, faculty and staff. The faculty members are tremendously active in creative and scholarly output. The recent merging of the departments has developed and fostered an opportunity for faculty to interact with each other more often, stimulating them to work across each discipline within the department. Not only are the faculty members a large influence on the department’s dedication to student retention, but the students play a key role as well. Students are dispersed throughout the department at all hours of the day, which embodies their devotion and excitement toward their studies. The team atmosphere and the high level of student involvement create a sense of belonging that promotes professional growth and lifelong learning.

The personality that thrives inside the walls of the Fine Arts, Fire Arts, the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts, and Wells Hall buildings is both unique and unmatched. On any given morning, you can walk through the halls and feel the energy and positive attitudes of those who will sing you a joyful “good morning.”  Likewise, you can walk through a number of these buildings late at night and be inspired by the passion and dedication of the music, art, and theatre majors diligently working in their studio spaces. Any number of them would tell you that these buildings serve as a second home to them on Northwest’s campus. Smiles are abundant within the department, which comes as no surprise since these students are learning about and professors are teaching things they are devoutly passionate about each and every day. Students as well as faculty members exist in small creative communities where they encourage, constructively criticize, and feed off of each other’s ideas.

With so many opportunities to get involved, faculty and students can learn more about their emphases and have a chance to communicate outside of the typical classroom structure.  A typical classroom, however, cannot be used to describe the structure of learning that takes place within these disciplines. The department takes a “learn by doing” philosophy when it comes to class work. Faculty can be seen interacting with students and offering their advice and opinions rather than solely relying on lecture as a means of communication.  Students and faculty have worked together to create organizations that are germane to their areas of study and can foster growth outside of the classroom. Organizations that have been established include Alpha Psi Omega, American Choral Director's Association, Art Club and Art Association, Art Education Club, Big Shoe Graphics, Clay Club, Comedy Inc., DigEM, Future Speech/Theatre Educators of Northwest, Kappa Kappa Psi - Kappa Delta, Kappa Pi, NAfME, National Association for Music Education, Percussive Arts Club, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Sigma Alpha Iota, University Players, and the United States Institute Theatre Technology.

One large aspect of this month’s highlighted department is the fact that they greatly influence cultural exposure to Northwest and to the community. Dr. Oehler expresses that the department serves as a “cultural hub for the region.” They provide a wide array of events such as concerts, exhibitions, recitals, and theatrical productions. A full list of upcoming events can be viewed here.

We would like to thank the department for their contributions to student success and their focus on student retention.  Please take a moment to meet the 25 faculty and three staff members who make up the Department of Fine and Performing Arts: