By Dr. Anne Hogan
Every academic discipline within CCFA and, indeed, our collective sociocultural habitat, have been profoundly transfigured by both the ravages of the Coronavirus pandemic and a national reckoning with racial and other inequities.
Looking back to the beginning of our spring 2020 semester, surely no one could have fully envisioned the scale of the public health, economic and civic disruptions that were about to transpire. The challenges posed by the turbulence of the times are acute, and my heart goes out to CCFA colleagues and students, and to their family and friends, who have suffered loss and hardship.
Yet in the midst of much uncertainty, our CCFA community has demonstrated an extraordinary level of creativity, resilience and commitment to ensuring an inclusive and inspiring learning environment for our students. I am deeply impressed by the compassion and support that CCFA’s faculty and staff have offered to our students and to each other, and by the college's determination to innovate and thrive amid a global pandemic (see page 8).
This issue of Voices highlights some, but hardly all, of CCFA’s recent endeavors. It also showcases the college’s indefatigably creative spirit and empathetic ethos. The impactful outputs of that creative spirit serve not only as examples of best practice in higher education, but also as conduits of hope and inspiration for the local and broader creative and cultural sectors.
I am thrilled that CCFA has implemented a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee comprised of faculty, staff, students, part-time instructors and community partners. This committee aims, as its mission statement reads, “to cultivate and support diversity, equity and inclusion through creative expression and communication.” CCFA is united in affirming the urgency of our civic responsibility as educators, scholars and practitioners to accelerate our efforts to foster an inclusive and collaborative academic culture. This new committee will inform and support other evolving high priority strategies designed to expedite our efforts to promote a more equitable society.
The recent progress taking place on the construction of the new Scheidt Family Music Center is quite an amazing sight for anyone passing
down Central Avenue. It was an honor for me to know Rudi and Honey Scheidt, and we have all been deeply saddened by their passing. CCFA colleagues and friends will never forget their passion for the arts and their dedication to our students (see page 4). I am most sincerely grateful to the Scheidt family and to so many others who have generously enabled the vision of a state-of-the art music center to become a reality. The Scheidt Family Music Center will bestow upon the Rudi E. Scheidt School a stunning educational environment and venue for music of many genres. This beautiful music center will also serve to enhance the renown of every CCFA department by facilitating greater visibility and access to the emerging Central Avenue Arts Corridor; and to CCFA performances, concerts, exhibitions, events and public lectures.
The University of Memphis is excited to announce the establishment of the Institute for Arts & Health. This new Institute has evolved from cross-institutional efforts initiated by CCFA colleagues over two years ago to bring together scholars and community partners from multiple disciplines broadly interested in the arts and health. The founding aspiration was to share expertise, discover synergies, and to incubate and secure funding for transdisciplinary research and community engagement. Attaining Institute status will augment the reach and impact of this important work, which is one of many unique facets of CCFA’s thriving and collaborative research culture (see page 20).
It was likewise exciting to see the launch of WYXR, Memphis’s "next wave of radio" (see page 18). A nonprofit venture between the UofM, Crosstown Concourse, and The Daily Memphian; the new station has already made 91.7 FM a favorite spot on the radio dial. A key aim for this new venture is to expand curricular and non-curricular student engagement with the station — both at Crosstown and through a student-led campus-based internet broadcast. It has been wonderful to see the energy that our students are already bringing to the station, and we look forward to sharing with CCFA and all UofM students more ways in which they can be a part of WYXR.
The high caliber of our college's programs and creative activities would not be possible were it not for the productivity of the outstanding people who comprise it. This spring’s issue offers ample evidence of the strength of our community by spotlighting students such as Razan Hadidi (page 12); our newest chairs, Jacob Allen and Kevin Sanders; and faculty members Sachiko Terui, Michael Schmidt and Jay Gilmore. The News and Notes section offers a broader snapshot of the breadth and quality of the people who make up our diverse and forward-thinking college.
I firmly believe that fine arts and communication disciplines will play a leading role in guiding our local and broader community to astutely navigate our increasingly interconnected world, and that CCFA is achieving ever greater renown for the excellence of its programs and student support, and for the cutting-edge quality of its research and creative activity.
I hope this issue of Voices helps keep you apprised of CCFA’s values and aspirations, and I welcome you to subscribe, if you have not already, to the online Voices blog (blogs.memphis.edu/ccfa).
On behalf of the College of Communication and Fine Arts, I thank you for your interest in, and support of, our college. I wish you and your loved ones health, peace and happiness for 2021 and beyond.
Dr. Anne F. Hogan, Dean