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The Pandemic Year in Review

When the pandemic closed the University in March 2020, Cal MacLean gave three directives to guide faculty and staff going forward.  Our mission was to instruct our students, improve our spaces, and develop/strengthen policies and processes related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Instruct Our Students

Faculty immediately shifted to online learning to finish the semester.  Then, in the following fall and spring semesters, the teaching style shifted to a hybrid model of both online and in-person learning, all the while maintaining strict safety protocols.

Students – as well as faculty and staff – also learned an entirely new skill set:  how to create and stage productions virtually.  The Open HandRevisited, A Christmas Memory, Airness, and an Anti-Racism Play Festival all were streamed during the pandemic. In addition, the students wrote, produced, performed, and designed a series of Halloween short stories and radio plays called Mighty Frightening Audio.

Improve Our Spaces      

New LED stage lighting, a newly-leveled stage, a new concessions stand, props thoroughly catalogued, and an improved paint area in the Scene Shop are just some of the improvements made to the theater spaces.

And, students now have brand new spaces in the Walters Academic Building.  So far, four faculty offices, a seminar room, a design classroom, and graduate studios for scenery, costumes, lighting, and sound have been completed.  Highlights of the studios and smart classrooms include:  a model lighting lab and a moving lights lab, a laser engraver, 3D printer, plotter, recording area, multiple spray booths, plenty of drawing/work tables, and assigned workspaces for every student.

This fall, a department library, acting classroom/rehearsal space, two acting coaching rooms, a commons area, and relocation of the computer lab and undergraduate sound/projections/lighting lab from the basement of the Alumni Memorial Building will complete the project.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) task force was created to recommend changes in the area of recruitment, retention, departmental policies, and outreach.  Then, a standing DEI committee took those recommendations to develop improved practices and policies, oversee their implementation, and measure the results. 

The full report and more information about the DEI task force and DEI committee are available here: Read more