earth orbit

Message from the Dean – April 6, 2020

“Sometimes we can only find our true direction when we let the wind of change carry us.”

Mimi Novic


Even as our usual routines and habits are disrupted, spring is advancing as scheduled in Oklahoma. The earth continues to wobble on its axis as it spins around the sun. As I look out the window of my home office, the grass in my backyard is greener than it was a few weeks ago, bluebirds are gathering nesting materials, and trees and flowers are blooming.

But it is an eerily quiet season. This time of year is customarily a meteor shower of happenings in CFAD. It is typical for Facebook to inform me on a Sunday, that I have 8 or 10 events scheduled for the week. Yesterday, I depopulated my April calendar. Each deletion brought a pang of regret. Sandy and I love witnessing our students and faculty in action. Attending collegiate events is a wellspring of pride and joy for us. We especially relish observing the improvements and achievements of our students. We cheer as they earn their lead roles, audition into spots in the next Jazz Ensemble, fill first chairs, and increase their mastery. As senior exhibitions and recitals roll onto our calendars, we marvel at the creativity and skill our soon-to-be alumni demonstrate to the public. The chasm in our April calendar is a reminder of both these challenging times and how critical our students and faculty are to the vivacity of the University. CFAD events in the Jazz Lab, Melton Gallery, Radke Fine Arts Theatre, Mitchell Hall Theatre, CHK|Central Boathouse, Nigh Center, and Mitchell Education Center are like sunlight for our campus. Collectively, the arts are the gravitational force that draws the community to the university, while also bringing pleasure, thoughtful communication, and beauty to our campus colleagues. The current distance between us is necessary but merely physical. Our essential mission will always will be to create lasting connections through personal actions and interactions. This season of remoteness will end. Meanwhile our collaborative spirit endures.

Over the past couple of weeks, we performed miracles. Faculty and students worked together to make the impossible, possible. New connections were forged through necessity as we were jarred from our usual orbits.  In a fortnight, we have proven the power of positivity and shared, focused belief. My faith in our CFAD family to overcome crises has never been stronger.

The concept of faith is a curious one. Humans possess the ability to believe in the substance of a fundamental idea, whose only verification is the belief itself. From its earliest days as a territorial Normal School, UCO’s existence relied on this type of faith. The conviction that drove those pioneers to build Old North on the treeless plains of central Oklahoma was faith in the idea of higher education. They believed this school would become the head of a comet trailing an expanding tail of graduates, magnifying knowledge throughout the territory and region. I possess faith that our students’ laughter will soon echo in our halls once more. The musicians will play, the artist will exhibit, the dancers will dance, and faculty and researchers will lead lively discussions in their classrooms and studios. This unprecedented season will remind us to value our personal interactions, and their temporary absence will ensure added appreciation when we gather once again. Even now, the work of the University continues, expanding outward into unknown frontiers, less visible perhaps, but true to the indomitable pioneer spirit that is our foundation.