Even Before Pandemic - UNLV NewsCenter

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."

What an MFA Degree Is and What You Need to Know - U.S. News & World Report

Posted: 12 Dec 2018 12:00 AM PST

[unable to retrieve full-text content]What an MFA Degree Is and What You Need to Know  U.S. News & World Report


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