View from the Bridge: Art Center’s incoming class, the LEAP Symposium and bringing the Bard to Lida Street

President Lorne M. Buchman

President Lorne M. Buchman

Being surrounded each and every day by thought-provoking ideas and inspiring individuals is perhaps the greatest benefit of working at Art Center. As President, I’m in a unique position to see so much of the remarkable work created here.

A clear side effect—and thankfully, it’s a good one—is that at the end of the day I have a lot on my mind. Which is why I’d like to start sharing with you here, on occasion, my thoughts on what I’m seeing, hearing and experiencing around campus and in the larger community.

First things first: The Fall 2013 term is well underway. Before we reach that busy midterm crunch, I’d like to tell you a few things about our latest incoming class. After receiving the highest number of applicants across all disciplines in our 83-year history, Art Center this fall welcomed 361 undergraduates and 68 graduate students, our largest incoming class ever. The increase reflects the strength and growth of our academic programs, as well as the planned expansion envisioned in Create Change, Art Center’s 2011–2016 strategic plan.

These new students come to us from 25 states across the nation and from 20 countries around the globe—28% of our entering undergraduates, and 54% or our entering graduate students, are international. All demonstrated their worthiness based on their portfolios, academic records and personal statements, and each underwent a rigorous review to gain admission.

A few other numbers you may find interesting: 57% of our entering students are female; our average entering student is 20.9-years-old; 12% attended Art Center at Night before enrolling; and 16% attended Saturday High.

Of course numbers tell only part of the story. What’s truly remarkable is seeing our students—whether it’s in the hallways, the classroom or the cafeteria—put their heads together to rethink, reframe or resolve some of our planet’s most pressing issues.

Dr. Buchman (seated at left) attends a LEAP Symposium workshop moderated by Lee Davis (standing)

Dr. Buchman (seated at left) attends a LEAP Symposium workshop moderated by Lee Davis (standing)

I witnessed this firsthand at the recent LEAP Symposium, hosted by our own Designmatters department, which brought together more than 100 national thought leaders from the intersection of design and social innovation. I sat in on several sessions and was moved especially by the passion and exuberance of our students, more than 20 of whom—with majors in Environmental Design, Film, Graduate Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Media Design Practices/Field track and Product Design—served as presenters, participants, facilitators and documentarians. These students are in a process of discovery even as they develop solutions, and they understand fundamentally that their creativity finds its meaning by sharing it with others in the world.

Speaking of sharing, for the first time since I began as President of Art Center, I’m co-teaching a class here on campus—Shakespeare Plays and Films—with my wonderful colleague and Humanities and Sciences instructor Dennis Phillips.

As a theater director with a love of Shakespeare, it was perhaps inevitable that I’d find a way to bring the Bard of Avon to Lida Street. It’s amazing to witness each week how the class can engage in the deepest and most rigorous way with the plays. Our students are quite brilliant, insightful in their reading, and they see clearly that the questions posed in Shakespeare have enormous relevance to their lives as artists and designers. And as you might expect from my own research and background, I am including many films and approaching the work from a performance perspective. I am loving the experience, loving the students, and am grateful for the opportunity.

I was also delighted to discover some recent student projects that took inspiration from the Bard, including Product Design graduate Geoff Ledford’s XVIII Collection, a men’s luggage and briefcase line inspired by “Sonnet 18,” and current Graphic Design student Benjamin Lee’s rebranding project for the Shakespeare Festival at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego—a project that is now a finalist for a 2013 Adobe Design Achievement Award.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the class and am curious to see whether Shakespeare and his “words, words, words” end up finding their way into any future student projects.

I hope to see you at Car Classic later this month.

Lorne M. Buchman, Ph.D., is President and CEO of Art Center College of Design. To learn more about Dr. Buchman, please visit his page on Art Center’s website.

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