Dear Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Friends,
As most of you have heard by now, the Board of Trustees voted in April to reorganize the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities into two new Colleges which will commence operations July 1, 2023: the College of Architecture, Art and Construction, which will be led by Interim Dean George Petersen and the College of Arts and Humanities to be led by yours truly.
Hence, this will be the last newsletter for the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, and my last column as its Dean. It is a moment to appreciate what CAAH has contributed to Clemson for the past 27 years. The current College is unique in its combination of fields and disciplines. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the United States or around the world. With this uniqueness has certainly come the challenge of ensuring that all the units were equally served and best served, according to their needs. A challenge to think of this College in terms of a collective, unified idea.
In the opening paragraph of my letter of interest for the Dean position back when I applied in the Fall of 2019, I wrote that, at first, I didn’t know what to make of this unique combination, and continued:
“But then I started to think a bit more about it and realized that these three areas are connected by something fundamental. They are all about building, shaping, giving form. The Humanities form us as individuals and citizens; the Arts build our souls; Architecture shapes our environment and gives visible form to our civilization – surely there is nothing more beautiful or worthwhile than all of this.”
One thing led to another, and so I was invited to campus to introduce myself and meet the faculty and administration. Provost Jones asked me to talk about: “The Future of and Intersection between Design and Humanities.” I talked about a bunch of things and then, towards the end, arrived at the idea that our College was conceptually related to the Bauhaus movement that had started in Germany exactly one hundred years earlier, in 1919. It was arguably the first movement, the first school, to think in terms of the harmony between the function of an object or a building and its design. It was also dedicated to Richard Wagner’s concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), and applied by Bauhaus to the interaction, inter-relation and interdependence of all the arts and architecture, underscored and informed by the humanities: history, aesthetics, ethics, sociology — a unified holistic approach to the aesthetic and to design. I guess it was what we today would call an interdisciplinary approach to the practice of an academic and professional field.
Interdisciplinarity does indeed saturate this College and has been both its strength and its greatest potential. We will soon even have a Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, I am pleased to say.
So, as we say goodbye to the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, and greet the new College of Architecture, Art and Construction, and the College of Arts and Humanities, I am optimistic that the spirit of interdisciplinarity, collaboration, and collegiality will remain and continue to connect us, that doors will always be open, and that we will continue to work together. I am also confident that our smaller, more focused colleges will allow all the programs to gain greater visibility and that, in time, they will have the chance to grow and achieve their full potential. I also wish Interim Dean George Petersen and all his faculty and staff the very best as they start their new adventure.
I just want to end by thanking our faculty and staff for everything they have done to make our College a great place to work, thank them for working with me these past three years, and to thank our alumni, friends and donors for all the steadfast support they have shown over the years. The loyalty of Clemson graduates is like nothing I have seen anywhere else. It continues to be a privilege to serve.
Nicholas Vazsonyi, Dean
College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities
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