Dean's Dispatch Issue 9

Dean's Dispatch Header

February 2024, Issue 9

Dear Alumni and Friends,

In 2024, each issue of the Dean’s Dispatch will highlight one of the four areas of the College: Arts, Humanities, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences. We begin with the Arts and our programs in art, music, and theater & dance. There are many exciting things going on in the Arts at UAA – from new certificates in graphic design and event management, to the new Seawolf Pep Band presented by MODA, to partnerships with organizations like Perseverance Theater.  These new opportunities support and augment our existing degree programs (we offer majors, minors and certificates in many areas), and our long-standing events, like the delightful Symphony of Sounds concert and the ever-popular Clay-Body Ceramics sale.

AK Native Art student
SOS photo

In thinking about this issue, we’ve thought quite a bit about the importance of the Arts, not just in our curriculum but in our community and in our lives. I believe that a strong Arts program at UAA means a strong Arts community for Anchorage and Alaska. We invest in the arts in order to invest in our future. The Arts engage our minds and speak to our souls, the Arts have the power to change the world. I asked some of our Arts faculty to reflect on the importance of the Arts. Music Department Chair Grant Cochran said “The Arts are important because they allow us to be creative, to express ourselves and to share different experiences and perspectives. The Arts reflect the best of us.” Ceramics Instructor Alanna Derocchi stated that “Art is uninhibited creative expression, critical thinking, and courage,” while Music Professor Mari Hahn thinks that the “arts illuminate, enhance and deepen the human experience.” I encourage you to think about why the arts are important to you as you read on to learn how our featured student Sanjo Wolfe, Art faculty member Mariano Gonzales, and Arts supporter Sharon Davies answered this question. 

I also want to announce the start of a new membership program in CAS, The Friends of the Arts at UAA. While this program will start July 1, members will be able to join soon and receive up to 3 additional months of membership.  Please read on to learn more about the Friends of the Arts. 

Lastly, we invite you to come to campus for one of our many events – we have performances, art exhibits and gallery openings, and lectures. We are pleased to announce that parking will be free for all Fine Arts Building patrons after 5:00 PM in the East Lot this spring. We want to make sure there are no barriers to attending Arts events on campus. This upcoming summer, some of our camps for middle and high school students will feature programs in music, art, and dance. I hope to see you soon at UAA. 

Dance photo


Dr. Jenny McNulty, Dean


Sanjo Wolfe photo

Student Spotlight: 
Sanjo Wolfe
Music and Art
“Since I was seven, I have been involved in something musical or creative. Music, the Arts? They are an asset.....When I came to UAA as a Fine Arts student, I found a way to be involved in the music program. I believe that the arts, that music, are important for people. Music particularly touches the soul, and really helps people, even if they don’t always recognize it.” BFA Student Sanjo Wolfe shares his thoughts on the Arts.

Mariano Gonzales photo

Faculty Spotlight: 
Mariano Gonzales

“Art is an expression.... It is how people express themselves, and show their individuality. Art has always been a part of humanity, and while it can be different for everyone it is still essential to human existence and experience. Art is also a way to communicate, to express emotions, or start conversations." Professor Mariano Gonzales shares his reflections on his 35+ years of teaching and work as an artist. 

Fine Arts Building photo

CAS Spotlight: 
Friends of the Arts

In the past, we have focused on highlighting our programming, our partnerships, our students, and our performances. Now, we want to expand our focus to include what our community supporters have highlighted as top-priority: how can they join in and support the Arts at UAA? The Friends of the Arts program is a way for members of the community to support the arts.

Sharon Davies photo

Donor Spotlight: 
Sharon Davies

“The Arts are areas that should always be in the curriculum, not just science and technology (which are wonderful). I think about how important it is for students to have access to the Arts, not just in the classroom but in the community....We need the Arts, they are important. I feel that there is something there that speaks to the soul, to the aesthetic of all kinds of people and that shouldn’t be lost."