WLU center celebrates arts efforts

WEST LIBERTY – In honor of the annual April observance of National Arts Advocacy, the Center for Arts and Education at West Liberty celebrated its accomplishment of raising $1 million from its efforts over the past two years.

The money raised has been from a combination of private partnerships and donor gifts, with support from Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, and will be applied to programs aimed at expanding curriculum development and fostering economic development, according to officials.

“This is an unprecedented success to obtain funds of this amount through indirect and direct grants,” said Lou Karas, director of the Center for Arts and Education. “Our goal is to build and maximize the center’s public-private partnerships to not only expand upon curriculum offered at WLU by integrating the arts in all classrooms, but also to expand students’ exposure to the strategic, private-sector partnerships we have built.”

“As a direct result of these funds we’ve garnered and programs we’ve launched, we’ve seen a continued increase in student applications and student enrollment in our colleges of education, and our college of arts and Communication,” said Keely Camden, dean of the college of education. “Additionally, our current students are the best ambassadors of the incredible programs being conducted here. Where else do education majors have the opportunity to receive training from Carnegie Mellon’s C.R.E.A.T.E. lab in robotics and tour and study at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, to name just a few of the many opportunities the collaborative work the center makes possible.”

Additionally, both the university’s college of education and college of arts and communication have experienced a 30 percent increase in student applications as a direct result of the Center for Arts and Education’s vision and approach.

“Through our strategic plan of bridging the gap between these organizations and the Center for Arts and Education, we are integrating the arts into not only our schools, but also within our communities. We are able to take a front-seat, hands-on and proactive approach to learn how these organizations in larger cities – such as Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. – are using the arts as an economic development and urban revitalization tool that the Center for Arts and Education can apply and set the stage for right here in the Ohio Valley. We always look forward to fostering new opportunities and relationships within the arts and business community in order to bolster relations between educational and private sector settings – utilizing creativity, advocacy and education as our founding principles,” Karas added.

The Center for Arts and Education (westliberty.edu/ae) is the collaborative effort of the Appalachian Education Initiative and West Liberty University’s College of Education and College of Arts and Communication.