SUU’s College of Performing and Visual Arts Celebrates 20 Years

Published: September 24, 2018 | Author: Ashley H Pollock | Read Time: 3 minutes

Bill Byrnes, Dr. Charles Metten, and Shauna Mendini have all served as deans of the College Performing and Visual Arts at SUU.While Southern Utah University has been known for its love of the performing and visual arts from their beginnings as the Branch Normal School, the College of Performing and Visual Arts has only been a stand-alone college since 1998. This year marks the 20th Anniversary of art, dance, design, music, and theatre arts all housed under one “roof”. As part of the celebration, the departments of Art and Design, Music, and Theatre Arts and Dance will present a year full of exhibitions, concerts, and productions. Being such a young college has advantages. All three deans are still alive and able to share their feelings of the progress that this college has made over the years. 

Charles Metten, the founding dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts (1998-2004), recalled the accomplishments of the college in its’ first fledgling years, “The College is a great part of sweet and important memories for me. We organized and updated bachelor degrees. We improved existing buildings and constructed a new structure to assist the faculty, staff, and students of the college. The Arts Administration program was established. To this day, I believe CPVA produces dedicated professional artists, scholars, and teachers who bring happiness and worth to those whose lives they have touched.” 

Today the College of Performing and Visual Arts comprises 26 academic programs including liberal arts (BA/BS) and professional (BFA, BM) degrees in art, design, dance, music and theatre. It includes graduate programs in the fields of arts administration (MFA, MA), music education (MME), and music technology (MM). 

Bill Byrnes, second dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts (2004-2009), reflects, “After spending time listening to and talking with faculty, staff, students, and alumni I made it my mission to communicate to SUU, the community, and the world what an amazing creative resource CPVA was. It took a few years, but the strategy paid off as word got out about the quality of the academic programs and sustained artistic excellence of the performances and exhibitions.” 

Of the college now, Byrnes states, “I am so pleased to see the continued growth and impact that the college is having on SUU and the community. It is also gratifying to see that faculty and staff are receiving more support and recognition for their commitment to providing students with the knowledge, skills, and mentorship they need to succeed. The evolving curriculum and the new master’s degree programs in Arts Administration and Music are great examples of how the college is adapting and constantly improving. I am especially excited to see our early steps to develop international partnerships and programs have blossomed and grown beyond my wildest dreams.” 

The College of Performing and Visual Arts employs more than 60 full-time faculty and staff in teaching and mentoring nearly 700 majors. CPVA presents over 100 performances, lectures, presentations, and exhibitions each year and is affiliated with the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA), Utah Shakespeare Festival, and the Center for Shakespeare Studies. Southern Utah University is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art & Design, National Association of Schools of Dance, and the National Association of Schools of Music. 

Shauna Mendini, current dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts (2009-present), spoke of progress as she recalled how much CPVA has grown, “We have completely embraced our important mission of making the arts a vital, visible, accessible, and integral part of Southern Utah University, the community, and far beyond. I have loved witnessing our students as they venture to realize their creative potential and have marveled at the dedication of our faculty and staff who mentor with expertise and inspiration. I’m thrilled with the international partnerships we have established and how our influence has expanded over the years.” 

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