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Support must come from the top for arts to thrive in academia, says symposium speaker

An education in the arts must not simply be reserved for those majoring in the humanities, but also should be a part of the learning experience of those whose career fields include business, law and other professional pursuits, says Robert Fitzpatrick, dean of the School of the Arts at Columbia University, who will be the keynote speaker at the Cornell University symposium "Creating Minds: Artistic Intelligence Across the Disciplines" to be held Feb. 28 and March 1 on campus. All sessions are free and open to the public.

Fitzpatrick will present "The Arts in America: The Academy, the Apocalypse and the NEA" on Feb. 28 at 4:30 p.m. in Statler Auditorium. Cornell President Hunter Rawlings will introduce Fitzpatrick.

"For arts to thrive in the academy there must be support at the top from those in the president and provost positions, with a strong commitment to undergraduate teaching in the arts," Fitzpatrick said. "It is a healthy sign that Cornell gives the time and commitment to this important discussion."

Prior to becoming dean at Columbia in 1995, Fitzpatrick was president of the California Institute of the Arts. He also headed up his own international arts and entertainment consulting company, based in Paris, and was executive producer of the film It's My Party, about an artist who died from complications from AIDS.

The symposium, organized by the Cornell Council for the Arts (CCA), features prominent educators and artists in an examination of the significance of artistic intelligence and the value of art-based teaching across the disciplines.

The following is the order of presentations in David L. Call Alumni Auditorium in Kennedy Hall on Saturday, March 1:

  • 8:45 a.m., Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychology professor at the University of Chicago and author of the recently published book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, will speak on "Artistic Intelligence and Its Measurement."
  • 10 a.m., Marcia Tucker, director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City, will present "A Little Art is a Dangerous Thing."
  • 11 a.m., Diane Ackerman, naturalist writer, poet and author of A Natural History of the Senses, which was the focus of a popular PBS series, and most recently A Slender Thread, will present "Creative Intelligence: The Spellbinding Clarity of Art."
  • 1:30 p.m., John Harbison, the Class of 1949 Professor of Music and Killian Award Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will speak on "Imagination: The Hole in the Bottom of the Bag."
  • 2:30 p.m., panel discussion with symposium speakers on "What is the role of educational institutions in integrating artistic intelligence into the curriculum?" Cornell Provost Don M. Randel, the Given Foundation Professor of Musicology, and former dean of Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences, will serve as moderator.
  • 4-5:30 p.m., Cornell faculty panel will discuss "How can a creativity-based education be implemented at Cornell?" The moderator will be Francille M. Firebaugh, dean of the College of Human Ecology. Panelists will be Salah Hassan, assistant professor of Africana studies; Roald Hoffmann, a Nobel laureate in chemistry and the Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters; Jean N. Locey, professor of visual art; and William B. Streett, professor emeritus of chemical engineering.

The symposium concludes March 1 with a presentation at 7:30 p.m. in Barnes Hall by John Harbison and Steven Stucky, professor and chair of the music department at Cornell, followed by a performance of Harbison's work by the Cornell Contemporary Chamber Players.

"We hope this symposium is a first step at modifying the academic culture here at Cornell," said Herbert Gottfried, professor and chairman of Cornell's landscape architecture department and a member of the CCA.

Gottfried, who will provide the introduction to Saturday's session, says a greater understanding of artistic intelligence is necessary, especially at major research universities like Cornell. "There needs to be a better understanding of the way artistic people think and operate and how they make life at Cornell a little richer."

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