A strategy for Mississippi State University to become
the region's most respected land-grant institution
FutureSTATE 2015 Progress Reports
ENHANCE STUDENT GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Initiative: Utilize the MSU Riley Center in Meridian to complement the academics on the Starkville campus in the areas of theater, public relations, and broadcasting.
Achievements of the past year:
- Offered greatest breadth, depth and diversity of any performing arts season in the southeast region, appealing to students, faculty and staff of all ages, backgrounds and interests; performing arts programming enhances understanding and tolerance of other cultures and viewpoints, while encouraging and helping to facilitate an appreciation for lifelong learning.
- Presented 15 performing arts events specifically for and attended by approximately 25,000 students in grades K-12 from across the state and west Alabama; programs reinforce curriculum-based content, enhance students' critical thinking and problem solving, improve written and spoken language, and foster an appreciation for lifelong learning, all while creating a larger pool of potential college students.
- Developed and helped teach new undergraduate and graduate arts integration course for education majors at MSU Meridian, providing the students with access to an innovative course that is on the cutting edge of education reform.
- Supported a new humanities course built around the Center's performing arts events; the course was specifically created to enhance writing skills, enhance understanding of history and culture, develop an understanding of other cultures, and foster student's appreciation for lifelong learning, all while helping to broaden choice of electives for MSU Meridian students.
- Provided opportunities for MSU Starkville and Meridian students to interact with, learn from and be inspired by, artists who performed at the Center; members of MSU Lab Rats attended multiple comedy shows, workshops and meet and greets, including Whose Line Is It Anyway comedians, and Chicago City Limits comedians who led workshops designed to foster creativity in problem solving and promote individuality and tolerance for other cultures.
Goals for the next year:
- Develop a master's degree program in arts education for anyone with a teaching license or an arts degree who wants to pursue a profession in teaching.
- Reinstitute Dr. Charlotte Tabereaux's training workshop for fourth-year education majors on the Starkville Campus, previously organized under Dr. Linda Jones' (retired) leadership, and incorporate into the Meridian Campus an education degree program as part of the preparation for student teaching.
- Create a formal internship program to provide students hands-on educational opportunities through the Center's varied departments, i.e., theater (emphasis in technical/theater management), marketing/branding (business majors), education (education majors), box office sales/customer service (business or communication majors), conference sales/hospitality management/tourism (business or communication majors).
Constraints to full implementation of this initiative:
- Transportation for students from Starkville to Meridian.
- Access to more traditional college students with more flexibility with regards to work schedule, availability, etc., for participation in internships.
- Lack of awareness for newly opened MSU Riley Center, the performing arts season and educational opportunities among Starkville faculty, staff and students.
- Lack of awareness or understanding among faculty and staff for MSU Riley Center's arts education initiative and its immediate ability to enhance growth and development of MSU Education students. (Education programs seem to have been overlooked in favor of theater, public relations and broadcast programs, which currently require significant curriculum development and/or a large investment in infrastructure/equipment in order to have an immediate impact on student growth and development.)
- Theater technology (lighting/sound) is a focus area that requires curriculum development in order to prepare students with the technical knowledge needed to fulfill theater internships that would be meaningful for both the students and the center.
- Misconception that the Center is a "production house," i.e., produces theater, versus a "presenting house," i.e., books nationally and internationally touring artists.
Proposed modification of the initiative:
Broaden goal to incorporate outreach and extra curricula activities, such as attending performances at MSU Riley Center, as a means to enhance student growth and development.
Overall assessment of the status of the initiative or other comments:
The greatest opportunity to immediately enhance student growth and development through the MSU Riley Center is to encourage Education students to participate in the Center's educational training, programs and workshops, which are open for MSU Meridian and Starkville participation. University assistance in educating Starkville faculty, staff and students about the Center's programming would be very beneficial in growing participation.
Additional opportunities at the Riley Center should be explored for regional conferences associated with department disciplines.
- MSU Riley Center's extensive performing arts season and premium conference facility attracted approx. 40,000 theater patrons and 20,000 conference attendees to Meridian, generating significant economic impact, while enhancing community's overall quality of life and downtown redevelopment opportunities.
- Strong relationships have been forged between MSU Riley Center's leadership and local, state and national elected officials, and with other statewide entities, including Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division, Mississippi Arts Commission, Mississippi Department of Education, and Mississippi Humanities Council.
- The MSU Riley Center was recognized with the 2006 Tourism Achievement of the Year Award; the Center was featured on Mississippi's 2007 Annual Tourism Guide cover and selected as the 2006 site for the Governor's Conference on Tourism; marketing director Penny Kemp was selected to serve on Mississippi Tourism Association Board of Directors and Meridian/Lauderdale County Board of Commissioners.
- The Smithsonian Institution selected the Riley Center as a national kick-off point for a traveling exhibit on American Roots music, which stayed in the facility for six weeks, attracting visitors, tourists, and conference interest from multi-state areas and an hour-long performing arts program in our theater on Mississippi Public Broadcasting TV and radio.
- A long term arts education initiative and Kennedy Center program successfully began within one year of opening; the program is generating significant enhancements in city and county school systems and beyond, better preparing students and teachers, and adding conference opportunities.
- Significantly grow conference business by securing statewide and regional conferences associated with the university's departmental disciplines.
- Continue partnerships with local and statewide entities and politicians to enhance quality of life in the Meridian area and the state as a whole.
- Build a strong relationship with the newly appointed committee on tourism in the state senate to gain continued support for the MSU Riley Center conferencing and the Meridian area.
- Lack of a downtown hotel property. University leadership and key donor support is needed to help influence local community leaders and elected officials to secure downtown hotel property, which would enable conference activities to exponentially grow and thereby significantly increase downtown redevelopment efforts and economic growth.
- Lack of Starkville faculty, staff and alumni awareness for Center's premium conference facilities and the positive impact hosting conferences at the MSU Riley Center would have on the university as a whole.
Recognize the MSU Riley Center as a unit of the university that fulfills and contributes to the university's outreach and service mission.
Overall assessment of status of the initiative or other comments:
MSU Riley Center has been commended repeatedly at the state and national levels for the quality product and programming that is evident to so many in such a short period of time. The Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division and Mississippi Tourism Association has identified the Center as a key cornerstone in the state's overall tourism product and referred to it as a "shining star" for the state. Now, we need more local and regional support to help put in place the remaining downtown infrastructure needs. We also would benefit greatly from assistance in educating MSU Starkville faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends on the university's top quality performing arts and conference facility right here in their backyard.