‘A new energy:’ Growth creates new faces, spaces at CMU
Growth creates new faces, spaces at CMU
The sights and sounds of a few of Colorado Mesa University’s most visible departments are changing.
Heading into the 2012–13 school year, CMU’s theater, music and art departments have added faculty and/or new building space to accommodate growing enrollment and growth in the educational experience the university offers, two department heads said recently.
Both Tim Pinnow, head of the theater department, and Calvin Hofer, head of the music department, said “there is a new energy” in Moss Performing Arts Center.
The art department in the Fine Arts Building has fewer noticeable changes but will have new faces in its hallways, said Suzie Garner, who heads up that department.
For at least the next year, students and faculty must brace for construction noise and rearranged office and classroom spaces. The results will be worth it, though, with another theater, another dance studio and more rehearsal space.
“We are so happy and thankful to get this,” Hofer said.
Perhaps the most noticeable changes, at least for members of the greater western Colorado community who enjoy attending CMU shows, recitals or exhibits, are the physical renovations at Moss.
Construction began in the spring in the Moss Performing Arts Center and will continue in phases for at least another year, Pinnow said.
The first and second phases include the enclosure of Lucy’s Garden, an outdoor courtyard that was in the center of the building, to make way for a faculty workroom and a meeting room that can be opened to the Moss lobby during shows or recitals. Several more rehearsal spaces will be constructed as well as a 5,000-square-foot instrumental room.
Completion is expected in January.
“We needed practice space,” Hofer said.
With addition of the marching band program, space was needed for rehearsals and storage for instruments and uniforms, Hofer said.
The theater program also will gain some needed space with a new dance studio on the ground floor of Moss by the second semester with eyes toward the summer 2013 construction of a new, small-scale theater.
The new dance studio will allow the university to “begin to seek accreditation” for its dance program, which is under the theater umbrella, Pinnow said.
Ground-breaking for the new theater, dressing rooms and acting studio space is scheduled for after the 2012–13 school year and will be on the south side of Moss.
A number of new faculty members have joined the university’s art, music and theater departments for the coming year.
Within the music department, Jonathan Hinkle joined CMU in mid-May after teaching high school band in Florida. He marched with Florida State University as a student for four years, giving him exposure to a first-class marching band program.
The Florida State Marching Chiefs had more than 400 members.
At CMU, Hinkle is building a marching band program from the ground up.
“I like a challenge,” he said. “With the growth happening on campus, this is the right place to be growing a program.”
Also joining the expanding music department are Stephen Page, an assistant woodwinds professor, and Kristen Yeon-Ji Yun, who will teach cello and bass.
Yeon-Ji Yun’s position is one “we’ve been working (to get) for years,” Hofer said.
Over in the university’s art department, new faculty are: Eli Marco Hall, assistant professor of graphic design; Alison Harris, assistant professor of art with an emphasis on drawing; and Araan Schmidt, an assistant professor of art with an emphasis on sculpture.
And in the theater department there are two staff additions.
Tracey Bonner will teach studio, jazz and tap, after getting her master’s degree in dance and choreography from the University of California, Irvine, and spending nearly a decade traveling the country as a performer and member of Actors Equity Association.
Bonner wanted to “be more of the creator of work instead of the creation.”
CMU was a good fit for her because she specializes in jazz and tap, and that was specifically what CMU wanted, she said.
Maurice LaMee was hired in April for his acting and directing chops. LaMee has limited higher educational academic experience, but his real-world experience as artistic director of Creede Repertory Theatre for more than 10 years grabbed Pinnow’s attention.
“These are two people who will instantly up our game,” Pinnow said. “In five years, I want this to be the best theater department in Colorado.”