In his monthly column for SRQ Daily, President Larry R. Thompson explores the excitement around the beginning of another academic year as Ringling College welcomes 458 new students to campus.
A Season of New
BY DR. LARRY THOMPSON
Reposted from SRQ DAILY article 8/26/17
Without a doubt, each and every phase of the academic year has its own distinctive character—but the fall season is truly my favorite. It’s the time when new energy flows back into the arteries of our fine campus with the vibrancy of new and returning students, faculty, and staff. And it is a time like no other at Ringling College of Art and Design.
Just last week during our Orientation activities, we welcomed 458 new students and their families to campus. They were joined at the beginning of this week by over 1,000 returning students, along with 17new faculty members and almost 140 fellow faculty, not to mention over 200 staff members. Needless to say, the campus is bustling with activity. And here’s the wondrous part of those numbers: each and every individual coming to campus brings their own unique experience, knowledge, and perspective to campus, which effortlessly establishes an open, creative community that is free to inspire the vitality and creativity of the institution. It’s a bit like magic, this feeling. Ah, fall semester. It’s magical.
You can tangibly feel the enormous energy and potential for growth and change in the air. As students get settled into their dorms, learn about their roommates, look for the cafeteria, find their way to classes and start down new paths toward their goals, we encourage them to embrace the change and stay open to the possibility that inherently comes from these experiences and connections. After all, change is inevitable. And it’s often a good—no, make that a great—thing. In fact, there have been some notable changes at the College over the summer that we’ve been excitedly anticipating. For one, on the administration side of things, we welcomed Dr. Peter McAllister, our new vice president for academic affairs. Dr. McAllister brings to the team his invaluable experience as an academic leader, educator and accomplished musician, and I know I, and all of us at the College, look forward to working with him and learning from him.
Further, on the infrastructure side of things, we fully opened to students the Richard and Barbara Basch Visual Arts Center this past Monday—just in time for the new six studio/classrooms to be used. This visually stunning building is designed and built to accommodate hands-on fabrication and art-making with facilities for glass blowing, woodworking, printmaking, photography, sculpture and digital fabrication, and it also includes six much-needed new studio/classroom spaces. The building also encompasses our newest campus gallery, the Lois and David Stulberg Gallery. The Center is an architectural gem; it is positively inspirational. And, we encourage you to visit campus and experience it for yourself, because passersby are granted a sneak-peak view of our artists at work.
Change and possibility are indeed in the air at Ringling College, with over 1,800 individuals teeming about our 50-plus acres, stimulated by innovative thoughts and challenging ideas. And while we don’t experience a true changing of the leaves here in Sarasota, one can undoubtedly feel the shift. Fall is upon us! This is one of the most rewarding times for me as a college president—a time of true transformation for our students, faculty, and staff, and for our creative community as a whole.
Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art and Design.