MNSU celebrates Sesquicentennial in Ted Paul Theatre

Special event focuses on College of Arts and Humanities history

Last Tuesday, the College of Arts and Humanities ar Minnesota State University, Mankato celebrated its Sesquicentennial in the Ted Paul Theatre.
The event opened up with a marching band and dance team featuring lively hip-hop, jazz and contemporary performances amidst flashlights popping up to reveal their participants.

Each of the different departments invited the audience in their breakout sessions. Music industry students from the Music Department shared songs they have composed and the dance studio and the Mass Media Department paired up to shoot pictures of any attenders.

The Philosophy Department presented a few of the most intriguing cases in philosophy and opened up the floor for discussion.

Communication studies professors Dave Engen and Leah White recounted the past and conversed about the present and speakers from the World Languages Department shared personal experiences and paired literary readings from diverse linguistic traditions.

The departments have their own unique histories. Jane F. Earley served as the founding Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities from 1977 to 2009, making her the oldest dean in the nation. The department has undergone several deans before the current dean, Matt Cecil, was been named in 2016.

When Dr. Theodore Paul arrived in 1950 as a new member of the Language Arts Department, he created the genesis of the theatre and dance program. Highland Summer Theatre was founded in 1967, then offered BA, BS, BS in Education, and MA degrees.

Under Paul as the first chair, the department offered the MFA degree which broke down into tracks, some of which included acting, directing, musical theatre, and theatre design. Most recently in 2005, the Theatre and Dance Department offered the BFA degree. The department uses all 200 majors and their talents to entertain their audience of 40,000.

As for the World Languages and Cultures department, it continues to evolve and challenges learning beyond its classroom walls. Because the department is aware of the need to gain more knowledge of languages, the department has options for degrees and experience for those interested in diverse academic and professional paths.

In 2013, the department also initialized its first fully online program Spanish for the Professions.

The Art Department initially served as the Mankato Normal School that supported teacher education and liberal arts studies. When the 60s hit Art programs expanded across the nation. In 1978, the department moved to Nelson Hall until 1992 when an arsonist set the third floor on fire and in 1995 was remodeled.

The department also added the studio specialization of installation art and is still one of the few programs that offers the classes in their curriculum. Overall the Department of Art continues its growth in the Graphic Design area of study.

Originally, the Communications Department was part of the language arts program but in 1977, it became its own department. Since then it has increased with its success in forensics and debate teams.

Many graduates have pursued higher degrees and gained exemplary positions as professors and inspirational speakers throughout the nation as well as emerged as political figures. Now the department has 300 undergraduate majors and about twenty MA, MS, and MFA students every year.

MNSU has offered a music program since its founding in 1868 and over the next 30 years, music developed into a staple for the normal school because of the increased national standards for music.

In the 30s, the Music Department led in many new and exciting areas for its namesake, maintaining a balance of strong ensemble performances while focusing on education.

The Music Department has been recognized regionally and nationally because of groups like Ellis Street Singers and the Marching Machine Band. Now the Music Department holds three different majors, numerous instrumental, and vocal ensembles for over 100 music majors.

MNSU hired its first philosophy faculty and offered its first class in 1963 which evolved into a minor in 1965 and in 1969, the major incepted.
In the early 2000s, more staff were added to the faculty and soon two interdisciplinary and interdepartmental programs were approved.

The first was philosophy, politics, economics and the other cognitive sciences which also involve the collaboration of biology and computer science. In the last 15 years, the department has doubled and new courses have been added to the philosophy program.

In 1938, English became one of the first majors of Minnesota State University in Mankato and literature has remained a core part of the department.
As early as 1957, creative writing classes were offered and by 1974, a BA degree in English also included writing concentration as an option.

In 2003, the technical communications program started online classes to increase enrollment. Most recently in 2015, the film and media studies major launched and that program continues to especially grow.

Mass media surfaced as mass communications in 1972 and featured concentrations like news-editorial, broadcasting, and public relations to name a few. Because of budgeting and by the late 1980s, the department narrowed its focuses down to journalism and public relations.

Mass communications changed its name to Mass media to reflect the fast-paced move to digital journalism.
As of fall 2017, the department consists of 160 mass media majors, 37 minors, and 50 film and media studies majors.

The next upcoming event College of Arts and Humanities will host this month is ‘Nirvana and the Meaning of Life: Is Buddhism a Religion?’ Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. in the CSU 253/4/5.

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