By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
From welcoming new Dean Dr. Craig Detweiler to the College of Fine Arts and Production and adding a plethora of opportunities for students, it’s been a big year for the arts at Grand Canyon University.
But the evolution of the college does not stop there as it ushers in a new era under a new name — the College of Arts and Media.
It’s part of an effort to encapsulate the college’s offerings and further a sense of collaboration among its programs.
“All of our media majors are artists, and all of our arts majors need to get their performances and talents seen via some form of media,” Detweiler said. “It’s no longer an either/or world of fine arts verses TV and film, but rather a both/and world of everything available.
“I think it just reflects the multiple kinds of media.”
It’s the kind of collaboration Detweiler has prioritized.
Having been in the industry for more than 20 years, he has seen firsthand just how much artists need one another in their pursuit to tell stories. Now, he wants to emphasize that for his students.
“We draw upon the creativity of God, the empathy of Jesus, and the entrepreneurial spirit that inspired the original disciples to share good news to all peoples,” he said. “We’re preparing students to communicate the timeless Gospel through all kinds of arts and media.”
A perfect example of this collaborative sprit in the college came during the filming of “Identity Crisis” on campus.
“You saw that kind of both/and cooperation," he said. "You had theatre students building props, you had musicians performing in the band, you had design majors creating signs. So there are all kinds of skills needed to tell these robust, faith-filled stories, and so rather than thinking of ourselves as separate silos, we think of ourselves as an integrated storytelling unit.”
Why change the name in the middle of the semester?
To that, Detweiler has a simple response: “We want the University as a whole to understand that we’re here as storytellers who document the many powerful testimonies that might be happening with our students, staff and faculty. We don’t want to delay that process; we want to send that signal now.”
Rebranding the college was not an overnight decision. It involved many months of discussion. For one, full-time faculty came together to brainstorm key words for the new name.
“I think part of the challenge in this process of reidentifying how we wanted to present ourselves to the public was that we are so multidisciplinary,” assistant professor Alison King said. “Encapsulating the diversity of the kinds of students that we want to attract and what our specialties are was a real challenge. Once we decided that the idea that the arts, in general, was one common thread, then we needed to include the technical aspect of it, as well, to convey that we were not fine arts but actually media arts.
“I think we nailed it when we whittled it down to the two core values that we hold, which is the arts and media combined. It reflects the contemporary ways of producing art, and I think it’s going to be attractive as we go forward.”
In addition to updating its name, the college also plans to roll out environmental changes. It wants to update the look and feel of the college, housed in one of the University’s older buildings, during the rebranding process.
“We’re going to do some visual refreshing,” King said. “We’re going to try to involve the students in that, as well, so that their voices are represented and heard in the visual branding as we re-present ourselves to the rest of the University.
“It’s going to be nice to be able to brand our own home right here in Building 35.”
King and Dance Director Bekki Price have been working with Detweiler to bring the college’s new identity to life.
“I’m excited for this rebranding of our college, because I feel it better represents who we are and where we’re going,” said Price. “With this new college name, we’re taking on a more entrepreneurial, creative spirit that aligns with the mission of the University – a focus of human flourishing and really providing strong opportunities for our students to develop their craft.”
In a constantly evolving industry, it makes sense that the College of Arts and Media continues to evolve alongside it.
It’s the beginning of a beautiful new era, and Detweiler has no plans of slowing down.
“It gives us room, as we might expand majors in the future, to what kinds of mediums we want to be teaching,” he said. “I think it’s an exciting time to be a young person, developing your creative voice on or off campus.”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].