Last year was an amazing year of achievement for our San Diego State community, and I am excited about our extraordinary opportunity for greater distinction in 2016-17. As we begin the new year, I hope you will take the time to learn more in my video message here.
Tag Archives: Arts Alive SDSU
The arts and sciences present complementary ways of understanding and engaging the world, but both enhance our quality of life and the meaning of our lives – from the powerful insights and emotional experiences produced by great works of art to the profound impact of scientific theories and discoveries in applied disciplines like engineering and medicine.
SDSU has strong traditions in both the arts and sciences, and an innovative group of artists and scientists is taking important steps by exploring the synergies between the two. A great example of these efforts was the recent Phage-Infused Evening of Art. Spearheaded by our distinguished Professor of Biology, Forest Rohwer, this event brought together renowned researchers and artists for a showcase of students’ music and art inspired by the molecular structure of bacteriophages (viruses that kill bacteria). In a scene reminiscent of a SoHo opening – seen in the video here – the University Art Gallery displayed multimedia visual art inspired by phages’ molecular structure, and Professor Joe Waters conducted an original composition based on the fractal patterns in phages’ DNA. The visual art and musical compositions were innovative, dramatic and provocative.
The evening was a fitting start to a spring semester in which we will pursue significant new initiatives in research and creative endeavors. These efforts, part of the implementation of our strategic plan, reflect our community’s ethos that vibrant programs in the arts and sciences are essential elements of the exploration, both of knowledge and ourselves, that characterize a great public university.
These efforts are truly “Building on Excellence.” In the last year alone, Rob Edwards and his colleagues discovered a virus that affects digestion in half the human population, Robert Quimby received the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for work demonstrating that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, and Ralph Axel-Mueller and Inna Fishman discovered brain pathways implicated in autism. Similarly, our efforts in the creative arts advanced with a visually stunning performance of “Les Misérables in Concert,” starring Broadway legend Ivan Rutherford, and our Arts Alive SDSU initiative is on track to present visual art, poetry and pop-up concerts to an audience of over 100,000 by the end of the academic year. (In the fall semester alone, more than 50,000 faculty, staff, and students engaged in the arts at SDSU.)
This spring, we take the next steps. We are recruiting a significant cohort of new faculty in the arts and the sciences. These efforts include the Conrad Prebys Chair in Bio-Medical Research, faculty in our areas of research excellence – viromics, clinical and cognitive neuroscience, climate and sustainability, and human dynamics in a mobile age – and artists in musical theater, music, dance and visual art. These new faculty will bring energy and cutting-edge ideas – the lifeblood of the university – to advance our academic and co-curricular programs.
We are also pursuing program innovations and enhancements. These include expanded opportunities for undergraduate students’ research and creative endeavors, new support for faculty in securing grants, enhancement of research facilities and many additional opportunities to highlight our creative work. The phage exhibit runs through Feb. 5 at the University Art Gallery. The Thousand Plates exhibit of food-related art and design will be at the SDSU Downtown Gallery from Feb. 19 through March 30, and our Arts Alive SDSU initiative will bring creative work to the entire campus throughout the semester.
Further, we continue with planning and fundraising for our most ambitious project – the construction of our new Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex. The construction process will begin in July. This project will transform our campus by creating facilities to advance our research, as well as the Thomas B. Day Quad/Courtyard – a central gathering place for our community.
While it is common to highlight the methodological and epistemological differences between the arts and sciences, the deeper commonality that makes both essential is more important. (SDSU artists and scientists discuss that concept in this video.) The arts and the sciences stem from the same fundamental desire to understand and characterize the world, to unlock its mysteries and to capture truths about ourselves and our environment. It is this powerful spirit that guides our efforts in the arts and sciences. I look forward to the excitement and achievement this spring will bring to our campus.