January 2012

Impending Move of the College Office

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The College has received notification that its main office must be moved from its current location in the Business Administration Building during 2012; therefore, we are in the process of identifying alternative space and planning for the move during the summer.

The upside of the move is that the College will reside in a building that we will be able to call our own and create an identity for the College. The downside is that we do not have adequate resources to cover the cost of the move, the purchase of new furniture and fixtures, or the remodeling of the targeted space. Because of the lack of funds, the College is reaching out to the community to solicit materials, supplies, and funding to complete the required space renovations. We are grateful to our many supporters who have pledged to help us with the move.

If you know of someone who works in the building materials business or if you are able to contribute money to this project, please contact Jill Collins in our office (; 208-282-5362). To show our sincere appreciation for donations, we will construct a recognition wall where contributions will be recognized and highlighted so that all who pass by will see what an important role our friends have played in this project!

Art Professor Kovacs Retires

Photo of Rudy Kovacs

Rudy Kovacs, Professor of Art, will retire in January after serving on the ISU faculty for 31 years. For the past nine years he has served as Chair of the Department of Art and Pre-Architecture. Kovacs’ art practice is deeply rooted in his scholarly research. For the last decade, he has been exploring the hand-jacquard woven form using computer technology. Learning about jacquard weaving and computer design capabilities as tools has become a direction for his research and creativity since 1995.

His exploration first began at Fondazione Arte Della Seta Lisio in Florence, Italy, and continued at the Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles. In 2002, he served as curator of the exhibition An Academic Celebration of Idaho Artists, a collection of art by faculty of Idaho’s public colleges and universities. Kovacs’ travels to other Idaho universities became the impetus for his research project entitled Idaho Markings as Narrative: The Woven Form. The aim of Kovacs’ research project was to develop both natural and fabricated markings into a narrative; consequently, he photographed marks in the Idaho landscape, originally intending to produce twelve jacquard-woven forms using material made out of cotton and paper thread. These woven forms were developed from Kovacs' aesthetic interest in markings on the Idaho landscape.

To date, Kovacs has completed sixteen jacquard-woven pieces. Two of these pieces— “Idaho Markings as Narrative #2” and “Idaho Markings as Narrative #5” –were selected for the 2010 Idaho Triennial exhibition at the Boise Art Museum. These two pieces are currently on display through January 20, 2012 in the Annual Art & Pre-Architecture Faculty Exhibition in the John B. Davis Gallery, located in the ISU Fine Arts Building. The remaining fourteen woven pieces were exhibited earlier in the John B. Davis Gallery

Kovacs wishes to give thanks to the ISU Humanities/Social Sciences Research Committee, the Idaho Commission on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts for supporting his research and, in particular, this body of work. Kovacs stated, “I also wish to pay respect to the following people, who have been a part of my life concerning this work. Memories are a powerful tool, and for their part in shaping mine, I am thankful, especially for their collaboration and encouragement in ideas about the meaning of being human in the process of making art: Bill Brown, Fidalma Lisio, Robert Brain, and Rudy Kovacs, Sr., my father.”

Kovacs also stated that he has “truly enjoyed my tenure at ISU. The basis for my longevity in the Art and Pre-Architecture program has been my association with university colleagues, students, university community, and people of the State of Idaho. For 31 ½ years, due to the friendship and unconditional support of university colleagues, I could not have asked for a better place of employment. I look forward to my new stage in life, continuing to live in the present. I hope you can stop by the John B. Davis Gallery to see the two pieces entitled 'Idaho Markings As Narrative'.”

    Photo of Idaho Markings As Narrative #2b     photo of Idaho Markings As Narrative #5b

    Idaho Markings As Narrative #2                 Idaho Markings As Narrative #5

Leeuwrik and Kuhlman Host “War in Society”

Photo of Erika Kuhlman Photo of Linda Leeuwrik

Dr. Linda Leeuwrik, Assistant Professor in Art, and Dr. Erika Kuhlman, Director of the Women Studies Program, hosted a series of events at ISU called "War in Society" to coincide with Veterans Day. Beyond the celebration of those who participated directly in wars, these events addressed the theme of war and its multi-faceted and complex relationship with society, a topic with a particular resonance for many in our community. The series included an exhibition at ISU’s John B. Davis Gallery of drawings by a German artist of the World War II era on loan from Colorado State University; a guest lecture on November 2 by Dr. Kimberly Jensen, whose research focuses on issues of gender and sexuality in war; and a panel discussion on November 10 with seven ISU faculty considering the theme of war in society from their various disciplinary perspectives in history, art history, psychology, literature, philosophy, political science, and military science. Drs. Leeuwrik, Shannon Lynch, Alan Johnson, Jim Skidmore, Angela Narasimhan, and Lieutenant Colonel Marilyn DeWalt all participated in the panel discussion.

Photo of War in Society poster #2b

Open to the university community and the public, these events were intended to stimulate and challenge the audience’s perceptions and experiences of war and the many ways it bears upon their lives. The lecture and panel addressed several topics and issues, including what Jay Winter has referred to as the “affective turn” in war studies, how war and its impact has been represented in art, issues of gender and sexuality in relation to war, the use of rape as a weapon in war, the ethics of war, the literature of war, the constitutional and legal aspects of war, and war from a military perspective. Concern with questions of human nature and the human condition was the vantage point from which all of these topics were viewed. More than 50 people participated in each of the three events.

Music Professor Anderson Receives Achievement Award

Photo of Scott Anderson

Dr. Scott Anderson, Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activites, was awarded the Idaho State University Achievement Award durring Homecomming. The award - established in 1984 - recognizes personal actions, generosity and self-sacrifice on the behalf of the university by an ISU faculty member.

Anderson conducts the ISU Chamber and Concert Choirs, the Camerata Singers, and teaches choral conducting, choral methods and private voice. Anderson holds music degrees from Whitworth College, Westminster Choir College, and the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Anderson has directed choirs that have traveled throughout the United States, Europe, and South America. As Director of Choral Activities, he has led the ISU Chamber Choir and Camerata Singers on performance tours of more than 20 countries, including Peru, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Anderson has put the ISU Department of Music, and particularly the choral program, on the map, and it is considered one of the best in the Western United States.

He has conducted more than 100 choral festivals and has been featured as guest conductor, lecturer and teacher throughout the United States and abroad.

Psychology Professor's Research Featured in the Economist Magazine

Photo of Casey McCulloch

The research of Casey McCulloch, Assistant Professor in Psychology, was recently featured in the Economist magazine. She specializes in self-regulation, goal systems, and the nonconscious processing of social information. Currently, she is interested in vicarious goal processes, specifically, why certain people “do” and certain people are satisfied watching others “do.” For example, why is it that some people after watching a football game, are simply content to sit, and others run out to play a pick-up game of ball? Furthermore, much is known about frontal lobe damage and its effects on goal striving, but to fully understand what is happening in patient populations, we must understand how people without such damage pursue their goals.

Individuals go about their daily routines with very little awareness of the surroundings and how the social milieu affects their own behaviors. In the best of situations, people can inspire others to help them achieve their goals, but Dr. McCulloch’s research shows that there are instances where others’ success can detract from an individual’s goal strivings. An alternative to failing may be to take on another’s goal pursuit and success as one’s own. A dramatic example is the pageant industry. Many mothers say that they never intended to become a pageant mom, but then they catch the pageant bug (takes on the goals of the pageant crowd). The mom gets caught up in a whirlwind of the pageant world and lives through the daughter’s pageant competitions. Seeing the daughter win instills a sense of satisfaction or satiates the mother’s goal (albeit not for long, in most cases). Thus, the flipside to catching a goal from someone is being satiated by viewing someone else’s successful goal pursuit. McCulloch’s research basically shows that this false sense of satiation hampers motivation.

This vicarious goal satiation effect need not be so dramatic or sensational. In an office environment, for instance, employees may incidentally observe co-workers accomplishing tasks from the comfort of their own cubicle. An employee may be busy working on his or her own task, and if someone asked the employee what their co-workers had been doing the employee probably cannot give a detailed report. However, their performance can affect each other. In one of McCulloch’s experiments, she had participants do an easy computer task that drew their attention to the four corners of the screen. While they were doing this task, there was a video embedded in the center of the computer screen showing a pair of hands doing an anagram task. One group of participants saw the hands in the video successfully complete the anagram, while another group saw the video cut out such that the hands never completed the anagrams, and lastly another group did not see the hands perform the task. Next, people were asked to do the anagram task themselves. McCulloch found that those people who incidentally viewed the hands successfully complete the anagram task then did more poorly on their own anagram task in comparison to the two other groups. This result suggests that it is not the presence of another that de-motivates performance, but it is witnessing the other successfully complete their goal that makes the difference.

VP for Student Affairs Speaks on Student Retention

Photo of Patricia Terrell

Dr. Patricia Smith Terrell, Vice-President for Student Affairs, met with the College Advisory Board in late-September and discussed best practices for student retention and academic progress and shared with them her ideas for how to increase ISU’s efforts in these areas. Her presentation to the Board was especially welcome because the Board has long expressed an interest in improving ISU’s student retention efforts.

Dr. Terrell noted that students who are especially at risk of slow progression toward a degree or dropping out of college before attaining a degree include:

  • Students who take remedial classes
  • First generation students
  • High school graduates who did not take high academic intensity classes such as Advanced Placement or concurrent enrollment courses
  • Students who work
  • Students who do not interact frequently with their professors or peers
  • Non-traditional students.

Unfortunately, a great percentage of the students who matriculate at ISU fall into one or more of these categories.

Dr. Terrell then addressed programs that have proved to be successful in ameliorating these factors, including:

  • Identifying academic courses where students have the greatest difficulty and devising strategies for enhancing student learning outcomes in these classes
  • Working with parents and school counselors to encourage high school students to enroll in college preparatory classes
  • Offering summer bridge programs and academic enrichment programs for junior high and high school students to help them become better academically prepared
  • Designing classroom assignments that include a strong emphasis on writing and critical thinking and supplementing formal instruction with tutors and study skill enhancements
  • Creating learning communities that are discipline-based with faculty involvement in residence halls
  • Focusing student orientation programs on academic study skills, engagement, advising, career preparation, and social integration
  • Developing an “early warning system” based on third-week feedback from faculty on student performance, followed by appropriate interventions
  • Providing counseling and personal assistance to non-traditional students in how to balance work, family, and academic demands
  • Providing on-campus work opportunities, such as the Career Path Internship Program, to connect students with possible career opportunities
  • Focusing on sophomores as a distinct cohort and developing stronger connections to faculty in their majors, especially through undergraduate research collaborations.

Dr. Terrell’s handout for her report.

Art in Motion – An Interview with Alumnus Tito Livas

By Rick Schroder

Photo of Tito Livas

Some people wait for life to find them. Tito Livas (a 2006 graduate of ISU's Theatre Program) goes out looking for his with an unbridled level of energy and gusto. Catching up with Livas was challenging given his ever-shifting rehearsal schedules, workshopping on productions, and exploring new opportunities. Leaning into and embracing ambiguity is something Livas seems to do very well. In fact, when Rick Schroder, alumni and member of the Dean’s Advisory Board, finally connected with Livas for this interview, it was by cell phone, and at the time he was lost in Brooklyn – well, not lost; at least he knew he was in Brooklyn!

The bright lights of Broadway and the hectic pace of New York City life might seem overwhelming for some, but Livas feels right at home in the middle of the big city. He acknowledges having spent time in New York City before, so it wasn’t a complete unknown when he decided to make Long Island his home and tackle a tough and highly competitive career path.

As our conversation progressed, it was readily apparent the small town country boy from Caldwell, Idaho, has a knack for fighting his way to success. “I was incredibly shy growing up and did not ever fathom getting into theatre until, that is, my first time on stage, which was in my high school’s production of Grease! I was trying out for a chorus part, and they put me in a lead role. From then on I couldn’t keep myself off the stage. It’s where I belong.”

Theater wasn't Livas original area of interest. "What brought me to ISU was Dr. Scott Anderson and the music program. Originally, I was planning on getting a music degree, but I switched over to the Theatre Program halfway through my degree."

Livas credits combining his interests in music and theater with helping him get to where he is today, which is working on a new musical called "Here Lies Love" with music by David Burne of the Talking Heads and Fatboy Slim, directed by Alex Timbers. But Livas gives credit where it's due, "Without the vocal training I received from Dr. Anderson and the acting training I recieved from Dr. Sherri Dienstfry and Dr. Norm Schroder, I wouldn't have been as well-equipped to succeed in this industry."

What advice would Livas share with students considering Idaho State University for performing arts? “If you want to get into a program where people challenge you to think for yourself, then ISU is right for you.” He touted the small class sizes and more face time with instructors as significant advantages of the programs offered by ISU.

As far as advice to theater majors who have graduated from ISU and want to find success, Livas’s answer is, “LEAVE! [after graduation] You really need to get out of Idaho if you want to grow in the field. The program in Theatre gave me the opportunity to do things I had never considered.” Livas did just that, having toured with the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, the Idaho Theatre for Youth, the National Theatre for Children, and Theatreworks USA; he has also performed with Princess Cruise and Resorts and at Disney World. Tito is scheduled to perform on upcoming Holland American cruises, so look for him if you are planning a cruise to the Caribbean or the Mediterranean.

For someone who grew up in rural Idaho, Livas has adjusted well to the big city. When asked if he misses Caldwell, he shared primarily his longing for time with his family. While he lives and works in the Big Apple, he still makes a place in his life for the outdoors, family, and friends.

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