Volume 16 • Issue 2
Southwestern @ Georgetown
 

The Last Word

— Paul Gaffney, Dean of the Sarofim School of Fine Arts
The fine arts are at a critical and exciting point in their history at Southwestern. Several gifts over the last 15 years have made possible the expansion of the facilities—and therefore the programs—of the Sarofim School of Fine Arts. The addition of the Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones Theater in 1993 lifted the theatre program to a new level of excellence. In 1999, a gift by Fayez Sarofim permitted the addition of a wing containing an art gallery, art studios, music studios and classrooms. That addition has raised the level of our teaching and learning in certain areas of art and music.

The current gift from Mr. Sarofim has made it possible to begin the process of renovating the original 1955 building, which, at age 50, lags significantly in its ability to provide the facilities and equipment our students, faculty and academic programs need. We also have a clear vision and specific plans for the future renovations and additions that will bring all areas of the Fine Arts Center up to the specifications we need to accomplish our best teaching and learning.

But as important as they are, buildings are only part of the equation. Southwestern’s faculty and staff are nationally and internationally renowned teachers, scholars and artists. Their knowledge, skills and talents inspire not only our students, but also our entire community. Our fortunes in this area have continued unabated as of late and allowed us new faculty hires in both theatre history and Asian art history. These valuable additions allow us to provide a more developed and sophisticated curriculum.

Our students are among the finest, as well. Every day, as I visit classes, talk with students in the halls, and attend performances and exhibits, I am impressed with the skills and accomplishments of our young scholars and artists. I am especially impressed by the fact that we strive, with equal emphasis, to provide to all Southwestern students, regardless of their majors or career goals, excellent arts education and training. They gain experiences that will enrich their lives, not only as college students, but also as lifelong consumers of the arts. In this way we truly integrate the fine arts into the broader liberal arts curriculum of Southwestern University.

Additionally, all phases of the artistic process—from instruction to performance—are curricular, carried out as parts of arts courses, with faculty supervision and evaluation, for academic credit. The arts are not relegated here, as they are at so many institutions, to “spare-time activities” designed to give students “cultural enrichment.” Rather, they are designed as a critical part of students’ overall educational experience. In this way we ensure that all students who are involved in the arts in any way (and 100% of Southwestern students are involved) are receiving the highest quality instruction organized on sound academic principles.

Of course, a wonderful benefit of this teaching and learning is that the entire Southwestern the many performances, exhibits, lectures and symposia that the students, faculty and guests of the Sarofim School of Fine Arts provide. The renovated Alma Thomas Theater will allow us to do an even better job of this than before!

Our past is long and rich, our present is intensely busy and our future is bright. I eagerly look forward to each step we make along our path of growth and development in all the fine arts at Southwestern. Please join us on that journey.