More than two dozen gifted high school students from across New York converged at Alfred State this month for the NYSSSA School of Media Arts, an intensive four-week program that offers courses in filmmaking, video and sound art, photography, animation, and more.
This marked the first time that Alfred State has hosted the program, which is one of many within the New York State Summer School for the Arts (NYSSSA). This institute is run by the New York State Education Department for students of the arts in various disciplines, from music and the performing arts to visual arts, and programs for each discipline are hosted at college campuses across New York State.
Artistic Director Ghen Zando-Dennis said, “NYSSSA School of Media Arts is committed to an experimental and exploratory pedagogical approach to art-making. Students combine the technical skills with the critical skills to make work, and many go on to attend notable art/film schools, sometimes with scholarships awarded from their portfolios of work made in our classes. Alfred State is a good fit for us, and we are excited to be working with our hosts in the Department of Digital Media and Animation.”
Steven Kendrat, assistant director of administration for the NYSSSA School of Media Arts, said, “We are excited to be hosted this year by Alfred State, a new host campus to the program, and look forward to continued collaboration and relationship-building. Everyone here has been quite supportive and enthusiastic about the program.”
Each day, the School of Media Arts includes a rather full schedule, with daily classes running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., then lectures or visiting artist presentations taking place in the evenings.
“The curriculum includes producing work, learning media art history and contemporary practices, and engaging with nearby media art-related spaces such as Squeaky Wheel in Buffalo, and the Visual Studies Workshop and George Eastman House in Rochester,” Zando-Dennis said. “Classes run for eight hours each day, and are taught by faculty from as far away as Los Angeles and as close as Buffalo, including filmmakers, video artists, photographers, experimental composers, and animators who have experience working in the art world and the industries.”
Although the schedule is rigorous, the students, Kendrat said, “have a blast as they pursue the work they are passionate about,” under the guidance of experienced faculty artists. Similar to the experience had by Alfred State students, a lot of learning happens outside of class.
“Much of the students' work takes them out of the classroom, as they undertake photo shoots on campus or in the community, or collaborate with other students to shoot scenes for video projects,” Kendrat said. “The proximity of the town to the Alfred State campus is something many students have already taken advantage of, and I was impressed with the many unique visions of Alfred portrayed in the students' mid-term presentations.”
Zando-Dennis noted that the program is adjudicated, meaning high school students apply with a written artist statement and samples of their work. Students, she said, do not need to have worked directly with the mediums they apply to study in the program.
“For example, students may not have had prior access to 16 mm filmmaking materials or professional sound-mixing software or recording tools, and so we select young artists who are generally imaginative, curious, creative, and committed to learning new skills,” she said. “Other NYSSSA summer schools include ballet, dance, theater, orchestral and choral studies, and visual arts, and they are hosted at other SUNY campuses.”
To help with the cost of the program, NYSSSA offers sliding-fee scholarships to students of low-income families. Students must be in high school and a New York State resident to be eligible to attend.
As a NYSSSA Media Arts alumnus returning in a new role, Kendrat said it’s nice to see the consistency in the artistic mission of the program, in addition to being continually inspired by the work of the students and faculty artists.
“It's amazing to see how much high-quality work comes from the students in just four weeks,” he said. “Of course it helps that our students are highly focused and self-motivated. Most plan to go to college for their media discipline.”
The students’ final work will be featured on campus Friday, July 28 in the Bret Llewellyn Art Gallery (third floor of the Engineering Technology Building) at 11 a.m., and during a screening in the Orvis Activities Center at 1 p.m. The public is invited to attend both the gallery and the screening.
For more information on the NYSSSA School of Media Arts, visit www.oce.nysed.gov/nysssa/media-arts.
Efforts to help college students cope with stress, have a better focus in class, and be more productive, have earned Alfred State a bronze award in a national competition. NASPA, an association of student affairs administrators in higher education, gave the college this national honor in the category of student health, wellness, and counseling.
“We are pleased to honor Alfred State with this award,” stated Kevin Kruger, NASPA president. “The NASPA Excellence Awards were created to recognize student affairs practitioners who develop transformative, innovative, and data-driven programs. Congratulations and best wishes for the continued success of your program.”
Hollie Hall, senior director of Health and Wellness Services, said her team is committed to meeting the needs of students through a wellness lens.
“The Journey to Wellness Program is an integral piece to the arsenal of inclusive services we provide here at Alfred State,” Hall said. “Additionally, the three MindSpas are an example of the infusion of evidence-based practice and innovation. Winning the NASPA bronze award brings credibility to the Journey to Wellness Program, and I envision future awards as we do more assessment on the effectiveness of this program. Students are learning how to self-regulate emotions, all while experiencing the benefits of self-care.”
In an effort to meet the needs of the college community, Health and Wellness Services recognized the importance of providing students with the skills necessary to manage stress. That led to creation of the Journey to Wellness Program to encompass innovative services that focus on student health and well-being to eliminate stress and increase productivity.
The innovative program began in 2012 when the first MindSpa opened in T.A. Parish Hall. Usage numbers and student satisfaction surveys supported the addition of a second MindSpa in 2014, located on the Wellsville campus in the Pioneer Student Union.
Consistently, student satisfaction survey and usage numbers supported the need for a third MindSpa in 2016, known as the Oasis, which is located in the Student Leadership Center. The Oasis is the hub for Journey to Wellness Programming, and allows students to utilize the MindSpa’s complementary and alternative medicine modalities after normal business hours. A MindSpa is a relaxation room that includes complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities such as aromatherapy, biofeedback training, guided meditation, and massage chairs.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCAAM) has defined (CAM) as being “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be a part of conventional medicine.” The response has proven that students are in favor of such services.
NASPA originally stood for National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. The association’s description changed to student affairs administrators in higher education, while the acronym has not changed. NASPA Excellence Awards recognize the contributions of members who are transforming higher education through outstanding programs, innovative services, and effective administration.
Alfred State is cooking up changes to its culinary arts program and public dining options. The goals for the improvements are to better prepare Alfred State culinary arts students for the current food services industry, as well as improve the experience for patrons.
As a result, Alfred State will expand lunch fine dining to five days a week and will be open one night per month for unique themed events including both buffet and fine dining options.
According to Deb Burch, chair of the Culinary Arts Department, the new changes this fall will include:
Additionally, Burch said, students will be managing the restaurant and preparing the meals under the guidance of multiple faculty members. They will also have a greater opportunity to plan and execute a menu of their design, and will benefit from a progressive team teaching style, giving them the ability to develop and explore a variety of cooking techniques under the tutelage and expertise of chef instructors.
In addition to planning and preparing the meals, students will further benefit from hands-on training in areas related to “front-of-the-house” service, including ordering, presentation, appearance, and professionalism – all focused areas that aim to achieve expert levels of student proficiency.
“The Culinary Arts Department also hopes to be taking on special event caterings, which will teach our students how to accommodate customers and their requests,” Burch added. “The goal is to afford our students variety and expertise in all situations, making them invaluable to their employers.”
Dr. Skip Sullivan, president of Alfred State, said, “The new changes to our traditional fine dining are another example of how our college is constantly evolving and improving its programs’ curricula to meet the current demands of industry. Not only will culinary students benefit, but our patrons will as well, and because of this, we are very excited about the changes going forward.”
Dr. Kristin Poppo, provost at Alfred State, said attendance for the college’s traditional fine dining offering has decreased over the years, which is another reason for the changes.
“I am thrilled by the changes in the culinary arts program, which will maintain training in fine dining, while adding more contemporary trends such as farm to table and international cuisine,” Poppo said. “Closer collaboration between our farm and culinary program will truly benefit students in both programs.”
Jeffrey Stevens, interim dean of the School of Applied Technology, said, "Maintaining the highest quality of education for our students and excellent service to the public are the focus of these changes. I am pleased to see these enhancements to the dining venue, which will continue to offer our students training exceeding the industry’s expectations, while serving the public with new and unique dining experiences."
Alfred State also recently unveiled a newly renovated space for baked goods now called the Hank and Evelyn Turner Pastry Emporium in honor of a longtime supporter of the culinary arts programs. The facility includes a new refrigerated bakery case, as well as a new island cupboard with a granite countertop constructed by building trades: building construction students. The emporium will also be open during weekday lunch hours.