Last night, attending the amazing Branford Marsalis concert with Kurt Elling, I was struck once again by the power of creativity. The concert was a tour de force with amazing new compositions, unique arrangements of jazz standards and extended improvisational solos from each of the artists. For me, the concert reaffirmed the need to develop student creativity, regardless of a student’s major area of study. Creativity has a transformational power that translates across disciplines. It is one of the four pillars of the college’s strategic plan, and we are committed to providing our students with a variety of classes and engagement opportunities in order to enhance creative thinking.
I have no doubt that creativity and creative thinking will be increasingly valued in a world where science, technology and engineering have dominated higher education policy over the past several years. In fact, students who are creative, critical thinkers, strong collaborators and can communicate clearly will have extraordinary opportunities in the 21st century thought-based economy. These students will have the unique ability to solve the world’s biggest problems and find answers to new and existing issues that are critical to the job market and corporate world.
To reinforce this point, an IBM survey of more than 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries and 33 worldwide industries indicated that the #1 criteria for organizational success is creativity, topping such personal traits as vision, rigor or managerial skills. IBM stated that in order to navigate a highly volatile, increasingly complex environment, instilling creativity throughout the organization is a top priority.
This bodes well for students with a creative mindset, as the next generation of college graduates will find themselves in a world that is changing at an exponential rate, especially in the evolution of technology and job opportunities.
Former Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor Richard Riley, foreshadowed this trend by asserting that, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist…using technologies that haven’t yet been invented…in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”
This thinking is reinforced by the fact that the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004. Consequently, the need to provide a broad-based curriculum that gives students multiple opportunities to develop multiple skills, including creativity, is more important than ever.
The fact that millennial students will change jobs, on average, every 4.4 years according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, and need to be prepared not just for multiple jobs but multiple careers informs us that students who are nimble, creative, who can think critically, collaborate and effectively communicate will undoubtedly be successful. Students who are able to find creative solutions to current and emerging issues will have excellent opportunities for sustainable and rewarding careers. What a great opportunity for the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities!
We recently learned of a $1,000,000+ grant from the State of South Carolina Department of Education to our American Sign Language program. I am extremely proud of Stephen Fitzmaurice’s grant establishing the first South Carolina Educational Interpreting Center at the University Center in Greenville. The new center will provide a much-needed service for educational interpreters of American Sign Language across the state. I have no doubt we’ll see great work coming from the center and from Professor Fitzmaurice and our American Sign Language faculty in the years ahead.
Finally, I close with a fond remembrance of Albert Holt, professor emeritus of English, who died Sept. 21. Professor Holt taught at Clemson for more than 35 years and advised hundreds of Clemson students. His subjects ranged from Shakespeare to composition to pioneering classes in African American literature. I share with you his obituary, which is a lively account of an inspired life. To Berniece Holt and Albert’s family, the college extends its heartfelt condolences.
Best wishes for October. Go Tigers!
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