Academic Affairs Newsletter

Fall 2015-Spring 2016

Dear Faculty,

Welcome back! With the start of each academic year, I have the opportunity to speak with new students and welcome them to the college.

This time around, I stressed three points:

  • I truly believe no better time exists to be at an art and design school. The opportunities in the creative economy for students to both make a living and make a positive impact on the world are phenomenal.

  • The faculty members at CCA are the luckiest instructors around. I joke with the students that nobody’s mom made them go to art school! And this translates into a student community that is passionate, engaged, and eager to learn.

  • Finally, I tell them about you -- the 550+ instructors, artists, designers, architects, curators, writers, and scholars who make up our impressive faculty. I make sure the students realize their instructors are their greatest resource as mentors, role models, and eventual peers. I emphasize they should take advantage of the faculty while they can.

Similarly, I invite you to take full advantage of us -- the faculty and staff who comprise the leadership team in Academic Affairs. We are here to provide you with support, mentorship, resources, and camaraderie as you continue to hone your pedagogy and pursue your professional and creative goals.

I look forward to working with all of you this year.

Please review and bookmark CCA’s Academic Affairs section on the website for the most up-to-date vital information.

See also our campus-planning blog for ongoing updates about CCA.

And now for some academic updates . . .

Academic Goals & Priorities

Our overarching strategic academic goal is to ensure CCA’s mission, values, and brand are reflective of and supported by the academic life of the college.

The curriculum, faculty, nondegree opportunities, external partnerships, and campus should demonstrate that CCA is the school where students learn a creative practice that will provide them opportunities to successfully engage in the creative economy and become active citizens in pursuit of positive social change.

This happens through an emphasis on

  • learning through making

  • theory and practice

  • collaboration

  • interdisciplinarity

  • critique

  • risk and experimentation

  • technological innovation

  • community engagement

  • social entrepreneurship

Achieving this goal should allow the college to increase excellence, extend our reach, and expand our access.

I will be working over the next couple years with the academic and administrative leadership to focus on the following key strategies to ensure this goal is met:

  • Further the development of a distinctive CCA curriculum that embodies the critical and distinguishing characteristics of CCA, its pedagogies, location, strengths, and academic vision.

  • Launch new nondegree programs that amplify the academic vision and goals, reach new markets, build our brand, and bring in additional revenue.

  • Build an external relations hub that centers on academic priorities, situates CCA as a leader in innovation, and develops our capacity to serve as a nexus for critical engagement on issues of the creative economy and social impact of art and design.

  • Continue to push out faculty development efforts that will positively affect teaching and learning, attract and retain top faculty, and expand the visibility and stature of CCA.

  • Ensure the long-range campus planning strategy is built on the academic vision and goals and enhances the teaching and learning distinctive to CCA.

  • Promote more enterprise thinking across the college, especially within and across the academic divisions, ensuring robust experiences while dedicating resources on areas that contribute to desired goals and outcomes.

Faculty News

Governance & Administrative Leadership Changes

Last spring professor James Gobel stepped down as president of the Faculty Senate in order to co-chair the MFA in Fine Arts program. Vice President of the Senate professor Bob Aufuldish (Graphic Design) has agreed to serve as interim president for the year.

Executive Committee member associate professor Jacqueline Francis (Visual and Critical Studies) will serve as interim vice president.

I appreciate their service to the college and look forward to working closely with them this year.

Here are additional welcomed changes in the leadership of five academic programs as well as other standing governance committees:

SEIU Update

Last fall CCA's lecturers and adjuncts voted to be represented by Service Employees International Union Local 1021 (SEIU). Negotiations continue between SEIU and CCA on an initial bargaining agreement.

The SEIU bargaining team proposed its first full counterproposal earlier this month, and the proposal is under review by CCA's bargaining team.

The next negotiation session should take place in mid-September. We will keep the CCA faculty updated accordingly.

Newly Tenured Faculty

Congratulations to the following associate professors who were awarded tenure this past year:  

All four are outstanding instructors and creative practitioners making fantastic contributions to the CCA community as well as their respective professional communities. (Stay tuned for an announcement about their tenure presentations later this year.)

New Tenure-Track Hires

As part of our ongoing effort to increase CCA’s ranked faculty, last year we conducted a record six searches for tenure-track faculty members — with fantastic results.

We will again this year be conducting about six tenure-track faculty and chair searches. (More details coming next month.)

Please join me in welcoming our new tenure-track hires:  

Tom Barbash, a CCA veteran faculty member, has been appointed to tenure-track of the Writing and Literature Program faculty. He holds an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a former Wallace Stegner and Scowcroft Fellow at Stanford University.

Stay Up With Me, his latest short-story collection, was recently published to great acclaim by Ecco/Harper Collins.

Tonya Foster joins the Writing and Literature faculty. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Houston and comes to us from CUNY, where she is a Humanities Fellow completing a PhD with a concentration on twentieth and twenty-first-century poetry and poetics, the poetics of place, Africana literature and performance, and trans-national literary modernisms.

Aspen Mays joins the Photography faculty. She earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has taught at The Ohio State University and Ox-Bow School of Art in Michigan.

She recently completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Santiago, Chile, where she worked with astrophysicists using the world’s most advanced telescopes to look at the sky.

Graham Plumb comes to the Interaction Design Program having spent 15 years creating interactive experiences for museums, entertainment venues, and retail and health care environments.

He is the former creative director at Snibbe Interactive and lead interaction designer for Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

Nilgun Bayraktar Welprin joins the Visual Studies faculty. She is the author Mobility and Migration in Film and Moving Image Art: Cinema Beyond Europe (forthcoming from Routledge).  

She has taught courses on migrant and diasporic cinema, European cinema, Iranian cinema, Turkish cinema, and road movies at UC Berkeley. Her interdisciplinary scholarship will enable her to teach across multiple divisions.

Karla Wozniak joins the Painting/Drawing Program. She earned her MFA from Yale School of Art and is coming to CCA from Knoxville, where she taught at the University of Tennessee.

She had a group exhibition this year at the Knoxville Museum of Art and is represented by Gregory Lind Gallery in San Francisco.

New Ranked Nontenure-Track (RNT) & Visiting Faculty

After numerous successful searches last year, I’m pleased to welcome the following new faculty members into RNT faculty positions.


Sara Dean (assistant professor, MFA in Design)
Corey Jones (associate professor, Industrial Design)
Adam McCauley (associate professor, Illustration)
Scott Minneman (associate professor, MFA in Design)
Aynne Valencia (associate professor, Interaction Design)
Christina Wodtke (associate professor, Interaction Design)

Fine Arts

Glen Helfand (associate professor, MFA in Fine Arts)
Pratibha Parmar (associate professor, Film)

Humanities & Sciences
Justin Hall (Comics)

Visiting Faculty

We also welcome this year’s visiting faculty members who bring their diverse professional practices into the CCA teaching and learning mix.

Jeff Border, George Evelyn, Craig Good, Sam Hood, Amy Lu, Gary Ruddell

Clark Thenhaus

Julian Goldberger

Fine Arts
Carissa Rodriguez

Graphic Design
Laurel Schwulst

Visual Studies
Maria del Mar Gonzalez

Viola Frey Distinguished Visiting Professor in Fine Arts
Edith Garcia

Wornick Distinguished Professor of Wood Arts
Adrien Segal

The Center for Art and Public Life’s Scholar in Residence
Christian Frock.

New Fellows Program

The AICAD Post-Masters Teaching Fellowship is a new program I launched last year in conjunction with some colleagues from peer Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) institutions.

The program is designed to give recent graduates of AICAD masters programs, particularly those who will contribute to the diversity of academia, an opportunity to join the professoriate.

Please welcome the following three AICAD fellows who will join CCA this fall:

  • Tia Blassingame (Printmaking)

  • Shiraz Gallab (Graphic Design & MFA in Design)

  • Kelly Walters (Graphic Design & MFA in Design)

Curriculum & Programs

New Graduate Degree Programs

CCA’s new Master of Design in Interaction Design (MDes) program launches this fall. This innovative 12-month curriculum “provides students with the combination of powerful design, experts in the field, and process skills that enable them to shape cutting-edge technologies and play key roles in the emerging design future.”

We are also beginning recruitment for our new 12-month MA in Social Practice & Public Forms program set to launch fall 2016. This exciting program “provides an intensive, experiential grounding in contemporary creative practices in the public sphere.”

Developments in Online Learning

We are expanding CCA’s online course offerings with more robust resources to support hybrid courses and our first fully online undergraduate course -- a section of Introduction of the Modern Arts -- was taught this summer by associate professor Jordana Saggese.

The online curriculum was designed to give our students who live outside the Bay Area during the summer an opportunity to continue taking advantage of CCA courses.

CCA continues to expand its reach through a just-launched partnership with a new massive open online course (MOOC) startup, Kadenze. Unlike other MOOC platforms, Kadenze is designed specifically to address the pedagogical needs of art and design colleges.

The platform launched in June with CCA as one of its 16 inaugural schools. The first course we will offer is Comics: Art in Relationship, developed by MFA in Comics chair and associate professor Matt Silady.

The primary goal of this project is to showcase the dynamic and distinctive CCA pedagogy and course curriculum. We hope to test its ability to seed interest in CCA and act as another channel for visibility and enrollment.

We anticipate a good learning experience as we continue to expand our delivery mechanisms and step into the world of online and hybrid learning.

In Other News . . .

I am thrilled to announce two important staff changes here in Academic Affairs:

Lisa Stoneman has returned to CCA as the faculty records specialist. She is overseeing the faculty contracting process and has led our transition to Workday, a new system that will make faculty contracting, reporting, and managing a more efficient and user-friendly experience overall.

Aaron McKenzie has a new role as institutional designer, a new hybrid position that allows him not only to continue to oversee design and strategy for the Center for Art and Public Life, but also to further develop his partnerships with Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and others at the college.

He will support our institutional research focused on our internal community needs through a collaborative engagement research practice.

You’re Invited!

Finally, I look forward to celebrating the start of the academic year with you at many events in the coming weeks, but I especially want to invite you to the Oakland campus on September 2 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. as we celebrate the openings of the Faculty Exhibition, the Hamaguchi Awards Exhibition, and the dedication of our new campus mural.

Enjoy the amazing mural that celebrates the importance of diversity to the Bay Area’s creative community. Six CCA students, under the direction of faculty member Eduardo Piñeda, created the mural during the summer break.

Learn more about the mural

I join you in great anticipation of what will undoubtedly be a productive and exciting year at California College of the Arts.

Dr. Melanie Corn