November 27, 2023

I traveled recently to California to meet with several alumni and friends, most of whom are fixtures in the entertainment and design industries. Due to the pandemic, I was unable to travel much at the beginning of my tenure as dean, so I greatly value this trip and other visits to further develop relationships and share some of the amazing work happening in our college. What became clear immediately to me was how Penn State bonds only strengthen with time. It was wonderful to hear how alumni who graduated decades ago remain grateful to Penn State and the College of Arts and Architecture—recalling fondly names of professors and specific courses, for example—for setting them on a path toward success.

Grateful. It’s a theme that runs through my messages all year long. This time of year, during the “season of thanks,” it is not difficult to be grateful. I am fortunate to work with amazing artists, designers, performers, educators, and researchers—among our faculty, staff, and students—every day.

Tomorrow, November 28, is GivingTuesday, and you have the opportunity to support those individuals and the programs with which they are affiliated through eleven different campaigns benefiting areas across the entire College of Arts and Architecture, including the School of Music, Glee Club, Pitch Exploration Lab, Center for the Performing Arts, Arts and Architecture Alumni Society Scholarship, Department of Landscape Architecture, Architecture Alumni Group, School of Theatre/Penn State Centre Stage, School of Theatre Student Diversity Committee, A&A Student Council, and Blue Band. The campaigns are live now, and I encourage you to visit this page for direct links to donate. Thank you in advance for your support. It enables us to make a positive difference in the world.

The fall semester is winding down, yet we still have some signature events on campus. I welcome you to take in a show, performance, or exhibition, whether you are local or planning a visit. Fan favorite MOSAIC, the School of Music showcase, will take place Sunday, December 3, at 4 p.m. in Eisenhower Auditorium. If you have not experienced this concert before, it is a must-see (get tickets here). In addition, on December 18-21, the School of Theatre will present Director Rick Lombardo’s original stage adaptation of A Christmas Carol, benefiting the school and Penn State Centre Stage. The production will feature professional artists on the school’s faculty, along with students and community members, creating a unique town-and-gown event for the holiday season (tickets available here).

Sadly, I must end this message on a somber note with news many of you have already received. In October, we lost two members of the College of Arts and Architecture community: professor of graphic design Ryan Russell and professor emerita of theatre Helen Manfull. The Stuckeman School will hold a celebration of life honoring Ryan on Wednesday, November 29, in 24 Borland Building and via livestream. Helen’s family plans to hold a celebration of life at a later date. We mourn their loss yet are grateful for the contributions they made to our college during their careers.

As always, thank you for your support and for being part of the Arts and Architecture community. #WeAre grateful. Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season.

Script writing that reads B Stephen Carpenter

B Stephen Carpenter II
Michael J. and Aimee Rusinko Kakos Dean in the College of Arts and Architecture
The Pennsylvania State University