A Message from Dr. Ivan Pulinkala

 image of Ivan Pulinkala
Dr. Ivan Pulinkala, dean of the College of the Arts

State-of-the-College Update

KENNESAW, Ga. (May 7, 2020) — As we end our academic year in the grips of this unprecedented time, the collaboration, professionalism and hard work of the College of the Arts' faculty and staff have helped us continue to pursue our mission of educating our students.

Despite the challenges we have faced this year, the College of the Arts has achieved significant milestones and continued to advance with artistic and scholarly distinction.

Highlighted below are a few of our noteworthy achievements in the 2019-2020 academic year. 

  • We created a standing committee in COTA that is charged with overseeing all research initiatives in the arts in collaboration with the KSU Office of Research. The following outcomes were the direct result of this new initiative, supported by a budgetary prioritization in COTA. My appreciation to each of you who contributed, participated and organized these research initiatives. 

    • Faculty Colloquium- Arts meets Science and Technology
    • Lecture Series in the Arts- Dr. Anjan Chatterjee (Neuroaesthetics Research)
    • Faculty Research Grants 
    • NEA workshop
    • Grant Writing Faculty Learning Community
    • Student Undergraduate Research Forums 
  • We have established and engaged a comprehensive shared governance structure that includes the following representative bodies in COTA. 

    Leadership Team
    College Faculty Council
    Staff Council
    Student Council
    Production Team

  • The College of the Arts has achieved outstanding fundraising results, far surpassing our assigned goals due to our strategic initiatives and the excellence of Kelly Smith. The work of our faculty and staff with our students is the impetus for the philanthropic support we receive.  

    • 2019-20 (COTA Goal $1,147,648) COTA raised $2,005,163
    • 14 new Endowed Scholarships started
    • COTA Ambassadors Council formed to advance our capacity for engaging new patrons and advancing our philanthropic mission.
    • Ambassador Events: Throughout the year, COTA Ambassadors hosted private receptions to engage and bring new donors to COTA performances, exhibitions and events.
    • President’s Concert: The Department of Dance successfully hosted the 2020 President’s Concert in the Arts. 
  • COTA engaged the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Institutional Equity to facilitate impactful workshops and several unit-level discussions led by Dr. Sylvia Carey-Butler and Dr. Donna Reddix. These initiatives have helped us continue to foster a culture of inclusion, respect and diversity across all units in the College of the Arts. These initiatives will be ongoing in the year ahead and we will continue to embrace diversity, inclusive of all people and perspectives. 
  • The College of the Arts has established a professional advising system, embedding professional advisors in each of the academic units under the centralized leadership of an advising manager (Tia Merriweather) and interim associate dean (Jessica Stephenson). This new system, developed with support from the KSU Student Success Initiative, has already generated positive student success results and in the year ahead will continue to impact our graduation rates, summer enrollments and student engagement opportunities. Thank you to our professional staff advisors.
  • COTA has exceeded the institutional summer enrollment targets for 2019 and 2020. I appreciate our unit leaders, faculty and advisors who have helped us promote summer courses in each disciplinary unit. 
    • Summer 2019 goal was 20% enrollment increase; COTA achieved a 25.5% increase
    • Summer 2020 goal was 10% enrollment increase; COTA’s current enrollment increase stands at over 25%
  • COTA carefully evaluated the historic enrollment trends in all three low-producing degree programs and made the strategic decision to sunset all low-producing majors this year. Curricular revisions will help us incorporate large portions of curriculum from these degrees as concentrations under other continuing majors. My gratitude to all the faculty in Art & Design and Music who have been instrumental in facilitating these transitions. Our curricular changes will strengthen continuing degree programs and allow us to strategically use our limited resources to advance graduate degree programs in COTA.
  • A direct outcome of the discontinuation of our low-producing degree programs has been the institutional prioritization and curricular development of COTA’s first graduate degree program in the School of Art & Design. This degree proposal is currently at the BOR awaiting review and approval, but has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  • New studio facilities for the School of Art & Design are finally under construction at Chastain Pointe, scheduled to open in fall 2020. We have also received allocation of space to relocate the TPS Costume Shop to Chastain Pointe. These additions will provide much needed space to serve our growing populations of students in both units and address safety concerns cited in our accreditation reports. 
  • The following public relations initiatives have brought strategy, synergy and effectiveness to advance the ArtsKSU brand in our region. My appreciation to Kathie Beckett, Joshua Stone, KSU's Strategic Communication, and colleagues in each unit who have collaborated to advance our marketing and branding initiatives. 

    • Faculty/staff video profiles
    • Weekly new website stories
    • ArtsKSU weekly email blast
    • Digital marketing initiatives
    • COTA promotional videos (under development)
    • Branding unity across all COTA units
  • We undertook the important task of carefully revising and/or creating the following guiding documents that will serve the operational success of COTA in the years ahead. I appreciate everyone who has contributed to these products. 

    • COTA Promotion and Tenure Guidelines
    • Art & Design Promotion and Tenure Guidelines
    • Dance Promotion and Tenure Guidelines
    • Staff Council Bylaws
    • Research Advisory Council Bylaws
  • The School of Art and Design successfully received national re-accreditation. The Department of Theatre & Performance Studies has submitted a response to their site visit that is pending review. My gratitude to colleagues who took on the major task of authoring our self-study documents and to everyone who contributed to these successful accreditation reviews. 
  • We have completely overhauled the process of planning our production season across COTA, thanks to the synergy of our Production and Leadership teams. Our new process ensures efficiencies and synergies in scheduling, programming and messaging, intended to increase the impact of the ArtsKSU season in our community. Our strategic changes include:
    • Inclusion of research events as part of our production season/brochure
    • New ticketing system 
    • Branding the ArtsKSU Presenting Season 
    • Hosting a professional company in TPS
  • In response to the USG General Education revisions that are currently under consideration, COTA formed a general education working group to help provide input to strengthen the general education curriculum at KSU. Dr. Diana Gregory is serving as the COTA liaison to the KSU General Education Taskforce. The update may be downloaded here. My appreciation to the colleagues who are serving on this COTA working group and to Diana for representing us at the institutional level.
  • COTA has recruited outstanding talent in faculty, staff and administrators who have either joined us this year or will be joining us in the year ahead. My appreciation to everyone who has served on a search committee this year and thanks to the individuals who have chaired these searches. We look forward to the new ideas and energy that our new colleagues will infuse into the College of the Arts.

Thank you
Credit for the above achievements goes to the faculty, staff, and students in the College of the Arts, as well as our patrons, donors, and community partners who have supported us over the past year. These achievements would not be possible without the leadership of the COTA Cabinet (Harrison Long, Jessica Stephenson, Geo Sipp, Leslie Blackwell and McCree O’Kelley) as well as the outstanding contribution of individuals who serve on the COTA Leadership Team. I am grateful to these colleagues for their trust, collaboration and visionary ideas, and thankful to Julia Becker for her exemplary work. 

While we are ending this academic year surrounded by uncertainty, we will continue to plan for a positive future and work towards the continued success of COTA in the year ahead. Some of our goals for 2020-21 will include the expansion of arts research and creative activities, the continued pursuit of graduate degrees, development of a more robust honors program, operationalization of our QEP, accreditation in dance and music, and the launch of an annual ArtsKSU Gala.

We will adapt as needed to the circumstance that guide our return to campus in the coming months. While the past few weeks have been challenging, they have also helped us connect in innovative ways with each other and our students. 

Please stay safe through the end of this pandemic. I look forward to seeing you soon.  


Ivan Pulinkala, Ed.D. 
Dean, College of the Arts