Dear Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Friends,
As we take our first steps into another academic year, it is the perfect time to pause and think about where we are, why we do what we do, and where our next steps are headed.
If you have been following my columns or our College on social media for the past several months, you may have picked up on the recurrence of our new motto: Imagine. Create. Connect.
Last year, with the arrival of our new director of public information, John Eby, we decided to think about updating the College’s motto. We searched for a phrase that sums up what we try to inspire in our students and achieve as a College. We also sought language that brings us all together, despite the huge range of disciplines we cover. As we began this year, it occurred to me that although the motto has been in use for a while, I have never formally introduced the phrase or the thinking behind it. Each of the three words represent distinct but mutually reinforcing concepts.
Imagine. Everything begins with an act of the imagination. From our earliest moments on this planet, when we stared up at the stars and imagined what lay beyond our power to see. Imagination has preceded every advance in human history, and we continue to imagine what would be needed to make our world a better place.
Create. First, we imagine. Then, we create. Whether it be a design, a performance, a work of art, or a book. But creativity is not just important for what we do in this College. When we think about successful businesses and feats of engineering that have changed our world in recent decades – Federal Express, Amazon, Apple, Tesla – we realize that they all began as an idea, an act of imagination.
In a world that increasingly seems to bully us into conformity and an abhorrence of risk, our faculty seek to stimulate that power of imagination with which we are born. And we hope our students will leave with an unquenchable curiosity, a thirst for knowledge, and a rekindled ability to dream.
Connect. But why create? For our own needs and feeling of satisfaction, certainly. But creativity is a form of communication, a way to connect with each other and the world. Everything we teach in this College entails a form of connection: history connects with the past; languages connect us with fellow humans in far-flung places; philosophy connects us with the ways people have thought about the eternally important questions; architecture connects people and communities, and so on. Our disciplines are also connected with each other. For example, Architecture is deeply connected with much of what our entire College is all about, from visual art and design to the ethical questions of what we build, where, why, and for whom, to the living history and cultural document that is architecture itself.
But it doesn’t end there. That act and process of connection will hopefully inspire others themselves to imagine and then create. And so the recurring cycle of human innovation continues.
We tend to complain a lot and are rarely satisfied as a species. It’s part of the human condition and it is what keeps spurring us on. But, if we look around us and think about it, we realize the world really is a better place than it used to be. Better, thanks to that cycle of imagining, creating, and connecting.
Nicholas Vazsonyi, Dean
College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities
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