Last week the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities joined a nationwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. President Jim Clements, Provost Bob Jones and I were thrilled to welcome 115 guests to the Brooks Center for a luncheon that featured talks by Dr. Randy Akers, director of the South Carolina Humanities Council, and Ken May, director of the South Carolina Arts Commission.
As was articulated in different ways by the speakers, the arts and humanities are the heart and soul of a great university. Through classroom experiences in the arts and humanities and cultural offerings provided by the Brooks Center and the Center for Visual Arts, the college strives to touch every student at Clemson in meaningful ways. This celebration reinforced the importance of a strong arts and humanities education for all Clemson students. The lasting influence of the arts and humanities on a college education can never be underestimated. I am convinced, now more than ever, that success in life and the workplace is tied directly to a student’s ability to think critically, be creative and communicate clearly and concisely.
A special shout out goes to Dr. Anjali Joseph and her interdisciplinary team of faculty, students, staff and clinical professionals who were awarded a $1 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to investigate safer, smarter hospital operating rooms. This groundbreaking research is a perfect example of collaboration that is promoted and thriving in our college. Researchers from our School of Architecture, Clemson’s departments of management and industrial engineering, faculty and staff at the Medical University of South Carolina and the Chief Medical Officer at Health Sciences South Carolina will undertake a multi-year project, renewable at $1 million a year for the next three years (for a total of $4 million), to look at ways to improve the efficiency and safety of the next generation of operating rooms. This has truly been a team effort being led by faculty in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.
Also last month, the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities was the primary sponsor for the seventh annual meeting of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present in Greenville. This international organization seeks to discover and articulate the aesthetic, cultural, ethical and political identities of the contemporary arts. As you can imagine, the college was perfectly positioned to make a significant impact on this conference, which included plenary talks by Miguel Rosales, the Boston-based designer of Greenville’s Liberty Bridge; Doris Sommer, an internationally recognized English professor at Harvard; and Wangechi Mutu, an award-winning Kenyan artist living in New York City. The conference, attended by more than 300 scholars and professionals, allowed the college to showcase its interdisciplinary excellence to a broad audience from across the United States. I am grateful to Michael LeMahieu, Cameron Bushnell, Angela Naimou and Emily Clarke for their tireless work to plan and execute this milestone event in the college’s 20-year history.
I am pleased to congratulate associate professor of city and regional planning Caitlin Dyckman, who was awarded an $850,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the social and ecological consequences of coastal conservation easements. This award from one of the most competitive national funding agencies is a collaborative effort with Clemson faculty in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering and Science. This example of interdisciplinary research is also a model for our students to understand the collaborative nature of the world in front of them.
I end today with the sad news that we lost one of our own this past weekend. Armando Enrique Montilla Navarro, assistant professor of architecture, died Friday evening in a car accident in Anderson. Kate Schwennsen, director of the school, said this about Armando, “Assistant Professor Armando Montilla was a passionate, compassionate, talented and important member of the Clemson Architecture faculty. He was one of the most capable teachers and critics I have ever met. He was consistently enthusiastic about the possibilities of our students to do amazing things, and the potential of architecture to add to the world. He will be so sorely missed by all of us.” Architecture students, faculty, staff and friends gathered in Lee Hall this past Monday to celebrate and remember the life of an esteemed architect, teacher, colleague and friend. On behalf of all of us in the college, our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Armando’s family and loved ones.
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