The dedication of the Vukovich Center for Communication Arts in April was a celebration: of the generosity of our alumni and friends, of the remarkable talent of our communication arts and theatre students, graduates and faculty, and, perhaps most important, of the place that the arts hold in our lives.
Our comm arts/theatre students may be the most enthusiastic users of the Vukovich Center – with new equipment, studios and other resources that will give them an edge as they compete for internships, graduate school and jobs – but everyone on campus, as well as our friends in the community, benefits from this wonderful new facility.
Whether it’s the physics major who wants to broaden her horizons by taking a course in media studies, the economics major who wants to build his public speaking skills by taking an acting class, or those of us sitting in the audience for another terrific Playshop production, we are fortunate to have a facility of this caliber on campus, one that is worthy of the teaching and learning that takes place at Allegheny.
The central location of the Vukovich Center, on the “Gator Quad” right next to the Campus Center with its art and music studios, reminds us how central the arts are to our lives and how much they enrich our personal journeys, no matter what our career path. I can’t say it any better than trustee Pete Scibetta ’54 did in an editorial in the Erie Times-News last year.
“I have no doubt that I was a better doctor because my love of music nurtured my ability to think creatively and broadly,” Pete wrote. “I observed the same phenomenon when I founded the Regional Cancer Center and considered applicants for a range of positions: A physician who plays the cello? A nurse who paints portraits? A radiologist with a passiofor jazz dance and a love of 19th-century French literature? That told me more than simply that the person I was interviewing had outside interests – it told me that this person also had outside resources, additional sources of strength and comfort that could see him through a difficult day on the job and make it easier to understand the richness and complexity of others’ lives.”
I like to think of how the arts offer additional sources of strength and comfort to our students every day as they explore and express their own creativity in campus dance studios, music practice rooms, painting and sculpture studios – and now the new video editing booths, the TV studio and the theatre in the Vukovich Center. By providing beautiful, wonderful, functional spaces that nurture the joy of creating – and by challenging students always to take their work to the next level of excellence and then giving them the resources to do so – we help them discover not only themselves but also what their talent and imagination can contribute to the world. That our students have these new opportunities to flex their creative muscles, to learn and to grow, to enrich their own lives and the lives of others through the enjoyment and the practice of the arts, is thanks to the generosity of Robert ’65 and Laura Vukovich, Gladys Mullenix Black ’54, Dorothy Brennen Miller ’39, Sue O’Connor Idleman ’55 and her late husband, Lee, Barbara Webb Robinson ’48, Marvin Suomi and his wife, Mariclare, the Eden Hall Foundation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program and many additional alumni and friends of the College. They have helped build a center that will shape lives and talents for decades to come. And that’s something to celebrate.