Tom Suter, Senior Lecturer of Art and Campus Program Liaison, at Ohio University Southern (OUS), along with two of his students, Kelsey Dillow and Valerie Windhorst, had the opportunity to spotlight the associate in arts degree program during the Ohio University Board of Trustees meeting held on the University’s Southern Campus.
“Thanks to the support of the Board of Trustees, Dean, Dr. Nicole Pennington, and from former Dean, now Executive Dean of Regional Higher Education, Dr. Bill Willan, we’ve been able to build quite a program here at Southern campus,” said Suter.
The program started back in 2007 and after a degree analysis in 2009, it was determined that all associate art majors migrate to a BA in studio art, since the course offerings were available on the Southern Campus. Along with the course migration, a new art gallery was built to host professional artists exhibitions throughout the year. Students are able to participate in international, national and regional art competitions, with many of them winning awards.
“Most importantly, and what I’m most proud of, we offer and sponsor the Annual Tri-State High School Juried Art Exhibition, where we have about 28 high schools from the area competing for awards and we get students here on campus with their parents. So the unique thing about this competition is the entries are all on-line and the judging is done on-line,” added Suter.
Dillow, is a senior attending the School of Art & Design on the Athens Campus, and is working towards a BFA in photography and integrated media.
“I entered the high school show that Tom referenced. Once I got accepted, I attended the reception, met the faculty and staff, and knew this is where I wanted to be,” she said. During Dillow’s two year stint the Southern Campus, she entered into the Athens Juried Art Show and won awards both years. Participating in these shows allowed her to see and experience what the Athens Campus had to offer, so she decided to make the transition. She received scholarships upon her transfer and now works as an assistant in the Kennedy Art Museum.
Windhorst recently graduated with an associate in arts degree and a BA in studio art. She is the lead student worker in the Art Department, as well as the President of the Ohio University Southern Art Collaborative (OUSAC). The OUSAC is a student-run organization that works with the community and campus. One of the organization’s top priorities is to raise funds for an Undergraduate Art Scholarship. Funds are raised by making and selling items at campus and community events. OUSAC has currently raised over $4000.00 for this scholarship. The organization is also proud to be engaged in service learning projects. They are currently offering art sessions to veterans at the Veterans Medical Center in Huntington, West Virginia, teaching them the concepts of art. In the future they would like to bring veterans to campus for ceramics classes and tours of the art gallery.
During the session the students were asked to describe the best features of the Southern Campus and what about the campus was important to them. For Dillow, the small class sizes and being able to have one on one interaction with instructors was great for her.
“The instructors are very encouraging to students wanting to make the transfer because they know that you are going to go on and do great things,” she said. She is thankful for her time at Southern. “I wouldn’t be where I am now or have received anything I have without my background here. So, I definitely think this place is great for those who are considering other options, but aren’t really sure and they need that motivation to do it,” she added.
As for Windhorst, her message is personal. She is a single mother of three, so going to the Southern Campus was a matter of convenience. Once she enrolled in the art degree program and started attending classes, she couldn’t see herself going anywhere else.
“For me, the opportunity to come here also opened up the opportunity to work here. I’ve been able to work with an innumerable amount of professional artists, who when you get to set up their work in the art gallery, you get to feed off of their passion and pick their brains and that’s just priceless,” she said. She also thinks it’s important for her children to witness her work ethic.
“I have two little girls and a boy who I want to understand that when you work hard you can get somewhere. Ohio University and Ohio University Southern has given that to our family,” she added.