Roundtable Discussions 2023

Arts for the Public Good: Building a Program in Creative Placemaking
In the fall of 2022, the University of Maryland launched a new undergraduate minor in Creative Placemaking, an evolving discipline that leverages the community-building and community-transforming power of the arts and design to address real-world issues from climate change to the loss of cultural heritage to inequality in economic development. The program began as a partnership between two distinct departments in two separate colleges and is already attracting attention from other far-flung disciplines across campus. This discussion seeks to explore the opportunities and pitfalls to creating arts-based, interdisciplinary academic programs, share best practices for academic collaboration, and offer insight into elevating the role of the arts on a campus that values social justice. We invite participants to share their own stories of success and failure in involving communities in arts-based course and program design.

Discussion Facilitators: Ronit Eisenbach, Director of Creative Placemaking, University of Maryland and Patrick Warfield, Director, School of Music, University of Minnesota

Continuing to Advocate and Champion DEIB Efforts
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging efforts in Higher Education are being challenged nationwide. As leaders, how do we respond to the myriad tensions (student, faculty and staff, administration, community, governmental, etc.) developing as a result of changing policies and limits that are being imposed in some states as we continue to advocate and champion DEIB efforts. What initiatives, best practices, processes, and/or policies have you leveraged or are considering at your institution to expand the diversity of your faculty, staff, and students as well as create a belonging environment to retain them within the challenging political and social environment of many states?

Discussion Facilitators: Shawnrece D. Campbell, Dean, College of Liberal Arts, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi and Cathleen A. Fleck, Chair, Department of Fine & Performing Arts, Saint Louis University

Data-Driven Environments and the Arts 
In many institutions nationwide, data analysis tools such as those offered by Academic Analytics have become a standard part of evaluating university faculty, programs, and the “success” of each. Data collected by these tools are also a critical component in universities' efforts to position themselves for national rankings and the like. However, such tools only marginally acknowledge the arts disciplines, and many are not currently populated with the majority of grants, fellowships, and awards that are key to measuring the success of arts faculty and programs in both tenure-promotion and budgetary processes. In an environment in which the stakes are becoming increasingly higher, how do our arts units utilize such tools to advance our cases on the collective excellence and value of the arts within the research university? 

Discussion Facilitators: Andrew Davis, Dean, Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts, University of Houston, Peg Faimon, Founding Dean, Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design, Indiana University, and Arne Flaten, Head, Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance, Purdue University

This session will be a discussion of strategies for the use of data-driven tools to serve the aims of the arts units in the research university. Discussions may be wide-ranging; among others, specific areas of discussion may include:

  • how to position arts research in the increasingly STEM-driven research-university environment
  • how to position the arts disciplines and arts research within data-management tools such as Academic Analytics or Watermark
  • how to define research activities in the arts and how these definitions shape data collection that accurately reflect these activities
  • the role of marginalized research activities or voices, including activities focused on equity and community engagement

The session is a continuation of roundtable discussions on the same topic held during the 2021 and 2022 national meetings of ICFAD.

Engaging Meaningfully with Technology in the Arts
Technology is transforming society at an increasing pace. ChatGPT was not yet even a product at the 2022 ICFAD conference, but it has already had a major impact on many industries, including higher education. The recent deep fake track mimicking musical artists Drake and The Weeknd and apps like Midjourney illustrate the significance of Generative AI for artists. Institutions must adapt to new technologies in order to prepare students for a world and work landscape that increasingly relies on technological sophistication and computational skills. As arts administrators embedded within STEM-focused institutions, we will discuss perspectives, strategies, and tactics for addressing both the challenges and opportunities presented by engaging with technology in the areas of research and creative activity, programs and curricula, resource acquisition and management, and organizational structures. Engaging meaningfully with STEM and new technologies represents a potential model for expanding the relevance, reach, and resources of arts institutions.

Discussion Facilitators: Todd Jokl, Dean, College of Art and Design, Rochester Institute of Technology, Mary Simoni, Acting Provost, Rensselaer Polytechic Institute, Kelland Thomas, Dean, College of Arts and Letters, Stevens Institute of Technology

Inter/cross-disciplinarity and the Arts in a “Multiversity” Context
Universities have increasingly been fostering interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary collaborations. Faculty are being incentivized to reach across academic units and engage in joint teaching and research initiatives. Institutions are introducing jointly delivered courses and academic programs while some are reconsidering existing departmental structures to encourage the integration of diverse knowledge domains. Moreover, universities have been establishing collaborative hubs, bringing together faculty and students from various disciplines to tackle complex, large-scale projects often in collaboration with external stakeholders.

The emphasis on interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary collaboration has undeniably presented arts faculty with exciting opportunities. This shift has broadened their influence and granted them access to resources that were traditionally allocated to researchers in more traditional scholarly fields. Meanwhile, it is important to consider some of the challenges with growing integration. How do arts faculty navigate the evolving landscape if their practice doesn't benefit from integration? How do we ensure reciprocal cross-disciplinary collaborations, where the work of artists is not seen as subservient to the other disciplines and that contributions to new knowledge exist for all parties involved?

Discussion Facilitator: Amir Berbic’, Dean, Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar

The panel will present a case study from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar, one of the key partners in Qatar Foundation's 'multiversity' ecosystem. Situated in Doha's Education City, this dynamic setting fosters collaboration among multiple institutions with distinct disciplinary focuses, offering unique academic experiences and serving as a potential model for future educational paradigms. 

Leading Up! How to Survive and Thrive during Leadership Transitions
With constant change on university campuses, we often face the challenge of working with new leaders. As deans we may work with a new provost or associate deans may find themselves working with a new dean. These experiences can be a relief, a challenge and or even be rewarding. They provide an opportunity to lead up by helping the new hire navigate turbulent waters, avoid land mines and comply with campus policies. They also give us opportunities to expand our own visions and find a new ally to help fulfill them. Conversely, they may open us to questions regarding our performance, our leadership style or our capabilities—often without context for challenges we’ve faced and obstacles we’ve overcome. How can we traverse the transition to a new leader in ways that are mutually beneficial, and provide continuity to those we lead?

Discussion Facilitators: Jim Godfrey, Associate Dean, School of the Arts, Utah Valley University, Sabrina Madison-Cannon, Phyllis and Andrew Berwick Dean, School of Music and Dance, University of Oregon

This roundtable will discuss some best practices in leading up and not just surviving but thriving through leadership transitions. Our moderators have first-hand experience and will come armed with ideas, suggestions and listening ears. 

Towards a New Arts Building: Navigating the Programming/Feasibility Study - Lessons Learned"
All institutions, when they approach the work of imagining a new arts building, face unique blend of circumstances. That said, there remains much that arts leaders might learn from the experience of colleagues who have gone through a comprehensive feasibility or programmatic study around a new arts building. In this roundtable, Michael and Nancy reflect on all key aspects of their particular programmatic study – an intense and collaborative study that lays the groundwork for a major complex involving music, dance, and the visual arts. They reflect on what factors helped create a very successful process and product, where there was compromise and what stood out. Their particular programmatic study (process and product) ended up being very successful, meaning, it was highly praised by all key parties, from students and faculty through to the university president and board.

Discussion Facilitators: Nancy Blankfard, HGA Architects and Engineers and Michael Stepniak, Executive Dean of Creativity and the Arts, Shenandoah University

Transforming through the Arts: Navigating the VUCA World to Inspire Change
VUCA was a term coined in 1985 (Bennis and Nanus) to describe the volatile, uncertain, chaotic, and ambiguous environment that exists in the digital age.  Higher education is not immune from this, yet the archaic systems in which the academy is entrenched can present leadership challenges.  This roundtable will discuss strategies on how college leadership can transform within the VUCA world and discuss how arts students are poised to be leaders in this new reality.

Discussion Facilitators: Melissa Berke, Associate Dean, College of Communication, Fine Arts, and Media, University of Nebraska at Omaha and Abbie Syrek, Assistant Dean for the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Wildcard Sessions

Hear something at the conference you would like to talk about more? Do you have an original idea or perspective to share but don’t have the time to craft a formal presentation? Join a Wildcard Roundtable!

The ‘Wildcard’ Roundtables are opportunities for ICFAD attendees to discuss the most pressing issues during the conference. Attendees can suggest original topics at the Friday morning breakfast. Tell us what’s on your mind! From these suggestions, three topics will be selected for the sessions and announced at the Friday lunch as part of the subsequent roundtables. The wildcard sessions will be open to everyone among the other roundtables and will be facilitated by members of the Board. Plan ahead or let inspiration strike. We look forward to hearing your ideas!

Roundtable Discussions have been sponsored by Theatre Consultants Collaborative since 2013.