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eaching and learning at Middlesex are
very student-centered, according to
Matthew Olson, Dean of Humanities & Social
Sciences, and that is especially true in the arts
and humanities. "We want education to be
more relevant and meaningful to our students.
And we want them to be more active learners,
by tying their own situations to the learning,"
said Olson.
and Nurturing the
"The community college is
the open door. Students come
here and are introduced to,
and get involved in, the arts
on campus but also in the
community. Seeing the
community respond to the
high-quality performances
and work from our students
is exciting. "
Ellen Nichols
Assistant Dean of Humanities
"Our arts and humanities programs are
extensive, and offer rigorous mental discipline,
and opportunities for students to develop broad
perspectives -- and learn skills that are
valuable in any setting."
Students of the arts and humanities, in
particular, have slightly different needs,
according to Olson. Being focused on
developing portfolios and preparing for
auditions, those students "need enough
opportunities in the curriculum to learn and
acquire those skills," he said, "as well as the
general-education courses that provide context
for those skills."
So, in addition to specific technique
courses, Olson explained, students take
classes that promote critical-thinking and
problem-solving skills, and improve their
ability to handle complex communication
between diverse groups -- all hallmarks of
a liberal arts education.
A strong liberal arts foundation, according to
Ellen Nichols, Assistant Dean of Humanities,
can help students begin successful careers in
traditional arts fields, as well as in other areas,
such as media, economics, law, teaching,
business even science.
"At Middlesex, a student's creative side
gets nurtured, and their critical-thinking side is
developed at the same time. Those two things
complement each other. Sometimes you have
to be creative to look for new approaches to
science or business," she added.
Every department in the arts and humanities
has seen an increase in enrollment, and an
increase in course offerings both on campus
and online, said Nichols.
The English Department offers two new
concentrations: Literature and Creative Writing.
"Those are growing fields at MCC, as well as
other institutions, like UMass Lowell," said
Nichols. "So, we expanded our Creative Writing
and Literature offerings, and we did it in such
a way that the credits transfer well. These
programs are very popular."
The Music Department has grown from just
two faculty members to 12, and has increased
online and on-campus course offerings. The
Studio Art and Graphic Design programs have
expanded to about 200 students annually and
more than 20 faculty. And, MCC's Theater
Program, though small, is steadily growing.
"The community college is the open door,"
said Nichols. "Students come here and are
introduced to, and get involved in, the arts on
campus but also in the community. Seeing
the community respond to the high-quality
work from our students is exciting."
As the arts programs grow, the need for space
is also growing. Middlesex recently received
$11 million in capital funds from the state to
complete the transformation of the historic
Boston & Maine Railroad Depot Building into
an academic arts center on the Lowell campus.
"We want our students to work toward
performance-level work and they need a space
to do that," said Nichols. "We are so excited.
This new building will help keep the college
connected to the community, and will attract
students and give them a space to connect
with each other."