Even Before Pandemic - UNLV NewsCenter

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Even Before Pandemic - UNLV NewsCenter Even Before Pandemic - UNLV NewsCenter Posted: 05 Oct 2020 12:00 AM PDT Even before the coronavirus pandemic propelled UNLV into remote learning in the spring, online courses at UNLV were prevalent.  "There's been a steady decrease in the number of students that have never taken an online course," said Elizabeth Barrie, the director of the Office of Online Education . She recently presented during The State of Online Education webinar event. It highlighted some of the initiatives and cross-campus partnerships that contribute to student achievement and shared how faculty prepared for online learning through the summer. She noted that 95% of students who graduated in spring 2020 with an undergraduate degree had taken at least one online course. And, compared to past years, there has been an increase in the number of students who have taken more than 30 credits, or two semesters, online. 

MFA student paints message of peace | UDaily - UDaily

MFA student paints message of peace | UDaily - UDaily


MFA student paints message of peace | UDaily - UDaily

Posted: 17 Dec 2020 06:17 PM PST

"All of the students in the MFA program are super creative, and I am learning so much from the faculty and staff," said Campbell. "Even though we are here to create works of art, I am a work of art being molded by the instructors."

Gregory Shelnutt, professor and chair of UD's Department of Art and Design, has been equally impressed with Campbell and credits him with having a great understanding of how to draw technically as well as knowing how to loosen up his style to produce a more abstract type of work. By having the capacity to offer very cogent, thoughtful and insightful observations about his peers' works in the nicest way, while also being able to address tough topics, Shelnutt said Campbell has drawn the praise and respect of the program's faculty members and students in less than one semester.

"My experience with Amir is always one of sincerity that I leave with gratitude for having spent time with him," said Shelnutt. "I cannot imagine the department without him now."

Right after earning a bachelor of fine arts and a bachelor of arts in communication arts from Cheyney University in 2008, Campbell began pursuing a master of fine arts degree at the University of Pennsylvania. Not being able to give his full attention to Penn's MFA program because of other events going on in his life at the time, he withdrew after one year.

Although Campbell spent more than a decade out of the classroom as a student, he kept busy honing his craft and training others as a full-time teacher at the Computer Kids Learning Center, a part-time art instructor at St. Mary's Villa for Children and a teacher's assistant at the University of Pennsylvania. He enjoys doing portraiture work and has been commissioned to create drawings and paintings of numerous prominent figures, including actor Jamie Foxx, filmmaker Spike Lee, musician Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and politicians Ed Rendell and Curt Weldon. Along with other endeavors, he has also been a freelance cinematographer and drone operator/editor on various projects.

Unfinished business

Despite having plenty on his plate, returning to school and finishing what he started remained on Campbell's mind and in his heart throughout his time away. Supported by the encouragement of Marietta Dantonio-Madsen, chair of the Department of Fine Arts, Design and Liberal Studies at Cheyney, he applied to UD. Having met Dantonio-Madsen and some of her students in various settings, including conferences, receptions and on visits to their respective universities, Shelnutt was well aware of the quality art program at Cheyney and welcomed the opportunity to strengthen UD's relationship with the nation's first Historically Black College and University (HBCU). Shelnutt and his colleagues responded positively to Campbell's portfolio, and he was accepted into the program.

Shortly after being admitted to UD, Campbell accompanied Dantonio-Madsen and a group of Cheyney students on a visit to Newark. Enthused by the energy of the campus, the feel of the art studio and everything he had heard about the program, he registered for classes. Describing the opportunity to move to Delaware and resume the quest for his master's degree as a chance to push reset on his life, Campbell has embraced his new surroundings.

"Coming from urban Philadelphia where I grew up and have been through so much, I love the contrast out here," said Campbell. "It feels so spacious and is definitely different than the city."

Shelnutt is pleased to have a broadly diverse group of students in the fine arts program and said the collection of participants from varying backgrounds adds a richness to the learning environment.

"Amir came to us with a life experience that he is filtering into his work and framing a lot of what he is doing," said Shelnutt. "Lately, he has been producing even deeper content. Recent events in the Black Lives Matter movement have not gone unnoticed by him, especially since the Philadelphia neighborhood he came from has been so deeply affected. He knows where his audiences are, and he is meeting and engaging them in thoughtful ways with his work."

Born to draw

Campbell was first exposed to art at a very young age when he was fascinated by the different statues in Philadelphia that his grandmother would take him to around the city. When a substitute teacher handed out crayons to his kindergarten class, it proved to be a life-changing exercise.

"As soon as I started drawing, I felt something inside of me saying I have to take this seriously even though I wasn't any good at it," said Campbell. "From that point, I just kept going with that feeling no matter how indifferent my pictures may have seemed."

He kept going with that feeling throughout elementary school, middle school and high school but almost put it aside by pursuing an undergraduate degree in psychology. After seeing a painting done by his father, who encouraged him to study art, he realized it is in his DNA and changed his plans.

Paying the knowledge forward

Comparing himself to a painting being created layer by layer until it is fully formed, Campbell has not yet decided what he wants to do professionally after he completes his degree in 2022 but knows that teaching will be part of the finished piece.

"I have to give back because so much has been poured into me, and I have to pour this wisdom back into students," said Campbell. "Anywhere someone is willing to learn, I am willing to teach them what I know."

However Campbell decides to employ his talents and future MFA, Shelnutt is confident he is positioning himself to maximize the benefits of his UD education.

"Amir is really keen to challenge himself, and it is clear that he is here for more than just a degree," said Shelnutt. "He is really utilizing this process to milk all he can out of the experience and that is what you want in a graduate student. We couldn't be more pleased to have him with us; plus, he is just one heck of a nice guy."

The Classical Concert That Changed Their Lives - The New York Times

Posted: 18 Dec 2020 02:00 AM PST

Carrie Sun and Christopher Cerrone met on April 20, 2018 in Manhattan after a classical music concert held at St. Peter's Church. She had just quit her job at a hedge fund and was planning to leave New York. Her movers were coming in 21 days.

Even so, they had drinks after the concert and he asked for her number. Then he invited her to a screening of the opera, "Invisible Cities," at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Ms. Sun, 35, who received degrees in mathematics and finance at M.I.T., accepted his invitation, knowing she was about to enroll in a creative writing M.F.A. program at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va.

Mr. Cerrone, 36, a graduate of the Yale School of Music, where he received masters and doctorate degrees, is now a professional composer. And that opera was his. He was a 2014 Pulitzer finalist in the music category for the composition.

"I didn't think a screening was a proper date since we barely had any alone time, but he asked me out on a second date to go to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden," Ms. Sun said.

She asked him out two days after that. "We ended up having three dates in one week," she said.

After the third date, the couple saw each other every day. They discussed a wide range of topics, including: literature, music, economic inequality and "The Sopranos." They also talked about his father, who emigrated from Italy in the 1940s, and her parents who studied English in China and then immigrated to the United States — her father in 1988, she and her mother in 1990.

"Chris and I discovered that we had matched on Tinder the previous year, but neither of us had messaged each other," she said. "He looked me up on Facebook and decided against contacting me because I worked in finance."

Mr. Cerrone had terrible online dating experiences. Ms. Sun's profile was very minimalist. The only thing that struck him was a mutual friend she listed. "Using that tiny detail, I scoured Facebook and discovered that Carrie worked in finance, which was enough for me to write her off," Mr. Cerrone said. "Nevertheless, I called her. Speaking to her, I realized that she was an extremely interesting and thoughtful person. She challenged me to rethink some of my long-held biases."

Five days before her move to Virginia, Mr. Cerrone told Ms. Sun that he really liked her, but at the age of 34, he didn't want to sign up for a two-year long-distance romance. "Neither did I," Ms. Sun said. She had an offer from the New School for an M.F.A. in creative writing that she turned down, but called and discovered that the offer and scholarship were still available. "I called Chris. It's been decided. I'm staying."

Two weeks later, at a violin concerto premiere with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Cerrane met her parents. The night before the concert he told Ms. Sun that he loved her. A month after that, she moved into his place in Brooklyn.

They were engaged Aug. 30, 2019 after a trip to the Bronx Zoo and then Little Italy on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. "I led Carrie to the nearby Ciccarone Park, where I sat her on a bench and proposed," Mr. Cerrone said. "This was the perfect spot. It was beautiful to see families old and young, from different backgrounds congregating together."

The couple were married Dec. 2 in the Concert Grove section of Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Jennifer Milich, a minister of the Universal Brotherhood Movement, officiated before her parents, Qiao Cui and Wenqiu Sun of Dexter, Mich., and Mr. Cerrone's parents, Barbara Cerrone and Bernard Cerrone of Blue Point, N.Y., along with a few close friends.

"Carrie is the most extraordinary person I've ever met," Mr. Cerrone said. "Not only is she smart and interesting and kind, but she jumped first and changed her life around to be with me. All I want to do is support her in her work as a writer." Ms. Sun is currently working on a memoir.

"We want to discuss books, films, and music to the tiniest level of minutiae for the rest of our lives," Mr. Cerrone said.

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