By DENISE SEYFER
Mount Mary College nudged its efforts closer to more formally identifying itself as a creative campus. On January 16, the college hosted a panel-driven workshop and discussion for faculty and staff to gain a better understanding about Mount Mary’s change in its identity and mission.The panel consisted of Veronica Gunn, vice president and trustee of Children’s Hospital and Health Services in Milwaukee, WI; Christine Harris, CEO of Christine Harris Connections in Milwaukee, WI; Paul Krajniak, executive director of Discovery World in Milwaukee, WI; Jeff Snell, special adviser to the president of Marquette University and David P. Werner, president and trustee at Park Bank in Milwaukee, WI.Gunn illustrated how her department emphasized creative approaches to problem solving when she chose to manage her employees using the team approach verses a more traditional hierarchy of the boss telling the subordinates what to do.
Christine Harris facilitated the discussion with the panel. She was also a key figure in providing Mount Mary with a preliminary report on becoming a creative campus and made recommendations on the direction of the new building campaign for a creative arts center at Mount Mary, according to Bruce Moon, director of graduate program in art therapy.
“The panel provided Mount Mary a context for our work on the creative campus internally,” said Debra Dosemagen, Ph.D. and director of the graduate program in education at Mount Mary. “The context was an external context. It gave us some ideas why creativity is valuable. It gave some ideas of how the panelists use creative approaches in their work world.”
The discussion also addressed why Mount Mary is in the perfect position to adapt the creative campus model.
“My interpretation of the panelist’s comments on Mount Mary’s suitability in identifying itself as a creative campus is that our size and our already established practice of a multi-disciplinary approach is a perfect fit,” said Janice M. Weinfurt, coordinator of institutional communication at Mount Mary. “There is already an academic culture here of crossover between departments, creating a type of collaboration that is essential to both problem finding and problem solving. Both [are] characteristics of a creative campus.”
After watching a video entitled “Everyday Creativity” by Dewitt Jones, who works as a photographer for National Geographic, the college’s staff learned the importance of viewing their responsibilities and curriculum through a “different lens” or point of view.
If one views a common situation from a different angle, new solutions and discoveries appear. The message Jones shared in his video stressed the importance of risk-taking without fear. Many solutions may have to be tried and reformed to solve the complex problems that we, the people of the world, may encounter. There may not be just “one” right answer.
Many left the workshop energized. They understood the importance of finding ways to incorporate some form of creativity within their jobs. If there are certain situations students may encounter in the real world, educators and administrators should provide exposure to those situations within the coursework.
Dosemagen thought about how to reform her coursework after participating in the workshop by engaging new teachers using the “team” approach rather than always having students come up with their own answers individually.
Knowing there are many definitions of creativity, Mount Mary’s next step is to compile data shared at the workshop by its participants and to decide and define how creativity should serve the college’s mission in providing higher education.
“Mount Mary has traditionally stressed a holistic approach to education, which acknowledges the importance of integrating all experiences into personal development,” Weinfurt said. “This seems to me to be totally compatible with the larger concept of creativity across the campus.”
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