Archives—April 2018

Research Excellence Fund (REF) Awards Announced

Light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, one is lit.

The Vice President for Research Office announced the 2018 Research Excellence Fund (REF) awards and thanked the volunteer review committees, as well as the deans and department chairs, for their time spent on this important internal research award process.

This year we congratulate, Lisa Johnson de Gordillo, Ann Beffel, Libby Meyer, and Patricia Helsel for receiving Scholarship and Creativity Grants (SCG).

The REF Scholarship and Creativity Grant (SCG) provides support to encourage faculty to engage in scholarly research, learning, and creative activities to enhance professional development.


Christopher Plummer Featured in Dean’s Teaching Showcase

Jared Anderson presenting an award to Christopher Plummer

This week, the Dean’s Teaching Showcase recognizes Christopher Plummer (VPA). Plummer joined VPA in 2002, developed the sound design program and was inducted into the Academy of Teaching Excellence in 2011.

College of Sciences and Arts Dean Bruce Seely chose to recognize Christopher Plummer for his commitment to the professional success of students. Seely says Plummer’s approach matches that of other successful faculty recognized this year—gain the trust of students.

Christopher knows that change comes too quickly for students to learn everything. Therefore, for students to succeed, they must possess enough knowledge to ask the right questions and the ability to listen and then research the best answers. ‘How I teach is as important as what I teach.’

Plummer says, “I must model good listening and communication skills. Students need to know I am interested in their success and that I teach to help them.”

He tells students about his course design choices and teaching strategies, and thereby gains rapport with the students and enhances their accomplishments.

Plummer also notes that at one time, he tended to step away from these discussions once classes were in place, figuring things were working. “I was wrong, and both the achievement of the students and my student evaluations reflected the importance of the open dialog.”

This “dialog” creates not only rapport with the students, but also a buy-in that improves learning and the quality of student work. “This also encourages them to view the process as something they are part of rather than something done to them,” Plummer says.

Christopher PlummerPlummer wants students to be invested in their studies and internally motivated. “Students must believe their work really matters, that they have an audience beyond a professor grading an assignment.”

Many arts projects have broader community audiences—VPA faculty often bring in outside professionals to campus as reviewers. Since many class projects lack those audiences, VPA expects students to develop a portfolio of projects that add value to the students.

For example, in the loudspeaker design class, students lay out technical specifications, design and build a set of loudspeakers they keep. Plummer says, “One measure of student investment in assignments is if they share them on social media. Are they proud of their work? Do they want to share it? When students have an emotional engagement, they search for information and remember it long after the test. Loudspeakers are all over social media from early stages to completion.”

VPA also believes students’ investment is facilitated by feeling part of a community of learners connected by a culture of collaboration and support for each other’s success. For Plummer, collaboration extends beyond the department to include introducing students to relevant regional or national professional conferences, as well as bringing professionals into the classroom and lab, in person or through video conferences.

As an example, Plummer “started a project where students create audio stories with professional actors, significantly raising the stakes in students’ projects by introducing professional standards of communicating.”

Collaboration and support continue after graduation as alumni frequently help each other find jobs or solve problems, elevating the success of all VPA students and the profession. The fruits of these efforts are visible when VPA students transition into professional life.

Our students and graduates work on the largest, most complex entertainment events, tours and installations in the world including Cirque du Soleil, Lady Gaga, Disney, Radio City Music Hall, Taylor Swift, Metallica and various projects at The Smithsonian.

Stephan Villet, co-founder of Smart Monkeys, Inc., (a consulting firm in show design and production), commented, “Michigan Tech students can talk to clients and designers about meeting their goals as well as about making Smart Monkeys a place I want to work, with people I enjoy working with.” Clearly, Plummer’s efforts to encourage student investment in an education occurring within collaborative environments seems to be working.

Plummer will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members. He is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer, recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside-the-classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

by Michael Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning


KSO Wraps Up Tour at Rozsa

KSO On Tour The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Joel Neves, wraps up its current tour at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. The Tchaikovsky’s Fifth program features Tchaikovsky’s triumphant “Fifth Symphony” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “liturgical Russian Easter Festival Overture.”

The KSO began the concert tour Thursday (April 19), at the Crystal Theatre in Crystal Falls, with additional stops in Algoma, Wisconsin and Ironwood.

Our orchestra tour provides a special opportunity to highlight the impressive quality of the arts at Michigan Tech to a wider community. Our musicians embrace the chance to perform some of the greatest orchestral music to underserved communities in the U.P. and Wisconsin. — Joel Neves

Tickets for the concert at the Rozsa Center are on sale now. Tickets are $19 for adults, $6 for youth and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee.

Tickets are available by phone at 7-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Note the Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.


Superior Wind Symphony Celebrates Contemporary Composers

Three rows of eight of people silhouettes The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and Department of Visual and Performing Arts present a concert by the Superior Wind Symphony and Campus Concert Band under the direction of Mike Christianson (VPA).

The concert, “Right Now,” is a celebration of music written by contemporary composers. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (April 21) in the Rozsa Center.

The Superior Wind Symphony and Campus Concert Band once again combine for their year-end wind concert, ‘Right Now,’ the music of living composers. These 14 composers are people who walk among us and who you could conceivably meet. Join us for a fresh and invigorating evening. Two have been on this campus, two are jazz bassists and they range in age from 33 to 94.

I have met five of them and performed with two of them. They write in a wide range of styles, so there is bound to be something you will love. The composers include John Mackey, Shelley Hanson, Chris Brubeck, Eric Whitacre, Michael Daugherty, Fred Hersch, Rufus Reid, Esperanza Spalding, Radiohead, Bjork, Andrew Boysen, Jr., Tan Dun and Sammy Nestico. – Mike Christianson

Tickets for “Right Now” are on sale now, $13 for adults, $5 for youth, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at 87-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance.

Note the Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.

Can’t make the performance? You can listen via our live-streaming!


Michigan Tech Choirs Present “Beyond the Veil”

Singers in a choir during a performanceThe Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and Department of Visual and Performing Arts present “Beyond the Veil,” a concert by the Michigan Tech Choirs: conscience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers and the Michigan Tech Concert Choir. The concert takes place at 7 p.m. Friday (April 20) in the Rozsa Center.

Jared Anderson, chair of VPA and the choir’s director, says, “The choirs at Tech have been working hard to prepare a concert that includes a number of interesting themes. The title of the concert refers to themes that seem to be opposites as if on two sides of a veil: love and loss, life and death, health and sickness, slavery and freedom, youth and old age.”

Anderson says there will be something for everyone at the concert, “love songs, spirituals, folksongs and sacred motets.”

Tickets for “Beyond the Veil” are on sale now, $13 for adults, $5 for youth and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee.

Tickets are available by phone at 7-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Note the Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.

Can’t make the performance? You can listen via our live-streaming!


“From There to Here” Student Art Exhibit

Maze drawing chalk on chalboardThe Rozsa Center and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts present “From There to Here,” featuring works of art created by Michigan Tech students participating in Project Learning Lab, an innovative arts classroom based inside of Rozsa gallery b.

Work on display was created by students in Lisa Gordillo’s Traditional Sculpture, Advanced Sculpture and 3-D Design classes. Students from many campus disciplines are represented, including Materials Sciences, English and Theatre Arts.

Students in Traditional Sculpture study traditional ways of making art around the globe, including Guatemalan kites, Zimbabwe-Shona carving and metal casting, with help from Michigan Tech’s department of Materials Science.

Students in Advanced Sculpture are encouraged to work with the gallery’s architecture and to create large-scale installations in the gallery.

Students designed and built a tree house for a local, three-year old client in the in 3-D Design class.

The exhibition runs April 18-20. A reception will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, at the gallery. The reception is free and all are welcome.

Student artists represented: Shane Arnold, Rebecca Barkdoll, Jalen Beck, Jessica Boelcke, Alyssa Cinder, Scott Davison, Holly Eyrich, Charlie Heckel, Mads Howard, Aaron Kruzel, Alex Kuehn, Haylee Lakenen, Miles Lefevre, Dakota Lowrance, Michael Miller, Adam Mitchell, Evan Monko, Zack Nelson, Neal Nordstrom, Via Ouellette Ballas, Justin Pearl, Ted Smith, Matt Tascarella, Gabe Toczynski, Makenzi Wentela, Kitty Williams and Amanda Wils.


VPA and Omega House Team Up

Carol Pfefferkorn , Mads Howard A team including Michigan Tech student co-curators Mads Howard and John Hughes, Omega House Marketing Coordinator Carol Pfefferkorn and Anne Beffel (VPA) are creating an exhibition of mindfulness-based photographs. The Omega House Hospice of Houghton will host a series of images by students of Beffel’s Art and Nature studio course now through May 2.

A series of 32 photographs taken almost exclusively with cell phones, utilizing no zoom or editing, demonstrate the power of simply slowing down and paying attention to life as it unfolds from one moment to the next.

Students mindfully framed the experience, working independently and intuitively in the field to make the images. In tandem, they participated in rigorous critiques in the studio classroom, applying theories of visual art and culture to understand why some photographs resonated more so than others.

The result is a thoughtful and inspiring exhibition including both photographs and written statements by the artists. The exhibition is open to the public 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Studio for Here and Now, where the exhibition was designed, is a studio space in Wadsworth Hall where students are free to drop in and join conversations and projects about putting art in spaces frequented by the public for the purpose of supporting a more empathetic and inclusive environment, and experience mindfulness-based art practices. The Studio for Here and Now makes art for the social good. 

Student artists represented: Liz Adams, Bernie Alkire, Maria Corona, Jake DeVries, Dusty Haxton, Mads Howard, Brett Howland, John Hughes, Gabriel Lamer, Alex Osterholzer, Jake Peterson, Alex Pohl, Julia Smit, Maddie Steger, Paul Vogt, Anrea Zubke.


Rozsa and Tech Theatre In the News

Two students hold hands while one other stands behind during a practice of A Midsummer Night's Dream
Image courtesy of TV6 News.

Local TV6 Upper Michigans Source Fox UP covered Tech Theatre preparing for their performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream“. They interviewed the actors and ran a brief segment. The actors also discuss how their performance is brought to life through sound. Also, TV6 ran an article reporting the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts was named as one of the top 35 best university performing art centers by Clickitticket.com.

Tech Theatre presents the classic Shakespeare comedy of love, magic and mixed signals, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” for three nights, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (April 12-14) at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for are on sale now, $15 for adults, $6 for youth, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at 7-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Note the Rozsa Box Office is only open one hour prior to performances.


Tech Theatre Presents “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Woman holding a glowing crescent moon with a tree behind on stage.Love abounds. Trickery and magic reveal lovers and fools. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream brings together some of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters in a romantic and hilarious adventure.

Tech Theatre presents the classic Shakespeare comedy of love, magic and mixed signals, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” for three nights, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (April 12-14) at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m.

Lysander loves Hermia, but Hermia loves Demetrius. The trouble is Demetrius loves Helena who believes she loves Lysander. This is what happens when a love potion gets into the wrong hands. How does it end? Happily, of course. But the mad romantic romp won’t end until magic restores the lovers’ senses.

Director Patricia Helsel (VPA) says the production features actors from all across campus, as well as community and staff members. “Christopher Schwartz (KIP), plays Oberon, the King of the Fairies. Mark Wilcox (UMC) joins the cast as Quince, leading the comedic troupe of artisans.”

The play features original music by Libby Meyer (VPA) and student, Devin Deal. The fairies sing beautiful harmonies and the show has lovely incidental music composed by Deal. The forest comes alive with a robust ambiance created by student Sound Designer, Samantha Palumbo.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is sure to delight with spectacle, sound, love and humor.

Tickets for are on sale now, $15 for adults, $6 for youth, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at 7-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance.

Note the Rozsa Box Office is only open one hour prior to performances.


Rozsa Center Listed Among Best in US

Rozsa Center exterior in the summerMichigan Tech’s Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts has been named one of the best university performing arts centers in America.

The 1,067-seat venue was among “The 35 Best University Performing Arts Centers in the US” as chosen by the website ClickitTicket.com.

The centers were listed alphabetically and not ranked in any particular order.

In listing the Rozsa, the website said, “This awe-inspiring facility schedules performances by both national and University performers in the mediums of dance, theatre, music and film.“

The venue’s ability to withstand harsh Keweenaw winters did not escape notice. “This 80,000 square-foot facility might be the toughest building on our list. Its roof can hold 450 pounds of snow per square foot.”

The listing also includes a photograph of a “Backstage at the Rozsa” performance. The Rozsa Center was the only university performing arts center in Michigan to make the ClickitTicket list.