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Welcome from the Dean

September 22, 2010

They say that brevity is the soul of wit which I hope is a truism that is not always true. It’s simply not possible for me to write this welcome and to highlight our upcoming events without going on at some length. First off, let us welcome back our returning students and faculty and, on behalf of everyone in the College, a  very warm welcome to  our incoming class of freshman, transfers and grad students, our largest incoming class ever.  And, let me extend an open invitation to everyone to  join us at one of the many exhibitions, talks and performances planned for the coming months, which I’ll preview in this message.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t make note of U.S. News & World Reports recently released rankings: Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania are the only Philadelphia universities ranked in the top 100, and Drexel was ranked second among universities cited as ‘up and comers.’ We also extend a warm welcome to President John A. Fry, Drexel’s 14th President who started on August 1st.

We’re big believers in residencies that bring noted artists, designers and scholars to campus to engage in classes, workshops and public events as those are invaluable experiences for students. This year, the Fashion and Design & Merchandising department will welcome Hong Kong-based artist and curator Movana Chen and Japanese textile designer Reiko Sudo for two residencies in the winter.  Chen weaves large installations and wearable art out of old magazine paper. She will conduct workshops teaching some of these techniques. Sudo blends traditional and futuristic Japanese styles in her textile creations while focusing on sustainability, dying and weaving styles from different regions of Japan. The Music Industry program brings Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux and Phish archivist Kevin Shapiro to campus this February for workshops on audio archiving and cataloging, along with a public lecture about how they’re preserving the work of two iconic bands that collectively have played over 5,000 concerts.  The Architecture program will welcome acclaimed Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger for three days of workshops on his more than 50 years as an educator, practitioner and writer on the uses of space, environments and interiors.  The Media Arts department will host Japanese paper artist Kubo Shu for a residency and exhibition, as well as design historian and scholar Dr. Jeremy Aynsely.  Shu, here in October, creates cut paper reliefs using traditional rice paper and mixed non-traditional materials. Dr. Aynsely, who teaches at London’s Royal College of Art, is an internationally recognized curator and art historian who will host a series of critiques, presentations and informal meetings this spring.

Our new interdisciplinary Product Design major launched this year with full enrollment. And we’ve received approval to offer three new majors born out of our Digital Media program.  The College will offer a total of 16 undergraduate and 5 graduate degrees when the majors—Animation & Visual Effects, Game Art & Production and Web Development—launch in September 2011.

In late October, John Avarese, Film & Video Professor, will screen the well-reviewed feature-length animation, MY DOG TULIP, for which John wrote the music. I’ll be bringing my cousin Alicia Van Couvering, a brilliant young filmmaker, to campus to screen her new film TINY FURNITURE, which won the South By Southwest Festival’s Best Narrative Feature award. Our Cinema & Television department will present WestPhest on Sunday, November 14th, their annual festival featuring the best student work from our Film & Video, Digital Media and Television students.  The Television program and DUTV will premiere the second season of OFF CAMPUS, the student produced comedy series about recent college grads, as well as the monthly DNews television magazine show on all things Drexel.  And, the Rudman Institute for Entertainment Industry Studies is organizing a major symposium on the Future of News.

In early October, Dr. Joseph Hancock has organized a conference that will bring scholars from a variety of fields to address Fashion in Fiction-The Dark Side. The conference explores the role fashion plays in our culture and how fashion’s mythologies are constructed and disseminated through fiction, movies, and the media. The conference features keynote addresses by Andrew Bolton of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and scholars  Dr. Susan B. Kaiser and Dr. Patricia Cunningham. To learn more about the conference or to register click here.

Westphal and The Goodwin College are welcoming back Intercultural Journeys for an Arab-Israeli Town Hall-style meeting featuring music, food and an important discussion about nations in conflict.  We’ve planned an evening of Middle Eastern food from Goodwin College’s Culinary Arts program, and wonderful music from Drexel’s Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Ensembles, led by Bruce Kaminsky, and by Intercultural Journeys, the ensemble led by Philadelphia Orchestra cellist Udi Bar David with guest artists from the Arab and Israeli worlds.

We look forward to our annual Architecture and Interior Design Charrette which will bring together students from across the University to tackle a design challenge that addresses societal needs; to the annual MAD Dragon Concert featuring the full lineup of Music Industry’s MAD Dragon Records recording artists, and the Pearlstein Gallery’s slate of art exhibitions.

Of course, May and June are our favorite time of year with impressive senior shows from our Digital Media, Film & Video, Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design and Photography students. There’s so much more to tell, but if you’ve read this far, I should thank you for your patience and leave further details to future editions of this newsletter.