For Johnny Beaver (’17), studying art at Oregon State transformed how he saw community building and his connection to others. Even though Beaver struggles with bipolar and anxiety disorders, he now sees human connections as a vital part of his life. This fall he’ll start an M.F.A. in fine arts at Portland State University.
“When I was being interviewed by Portland State, I was asked which contemporary artists out there were the most influential in my work,” he says. “Without thinking I answered with the names of a few of my peers. This particular gift is something I’ll be taking with me.”
For Jayanthi Joseph (’17), studying music at Oregon State meant she could focus on her two passions: the violin and biology. Here, she could concentrate on both at a high level. Joseph teaches strings in Corvallis elementary schools. She has been a performing and touring musician. She’s even composed and performed a piece for the SPARK Microbiome project, a nod to her own work at the intersection of art and science.
“I plan to have careers in both science and music,” she says.
Beaver and Joseph’s stories are just two examples of how the arts at Oregon State transform our students’ lives — and are critical to leading a full life. Not one student graduates from Oregon State without taking classes in the College of Liberal Arts, and more than 10,000 students take classes in the arts each year. Last spring’s anonymous $25 million lead gift for a new arts and education complex will help us aspire to even more.
The university’s goal is to raise a total of $60 million in gifts and state bonds for the complex, which will be an expansion and enhancement of the existing LaSells Stewart Center. CLA’s new complex will help Oregon State fulfill President Ed Ray’s goal: to be among the top 25 land grant institutions in the country. And it will make the arts — the heart of the university — more visible than ever before.
Beyond all of that, it will help CLA continue to enrich the lives of our students.
“The purpose of the liberal arts at an applied university is to create the graduates that you want to live next door to,” says CLA Dean Lawrence Rodgers. “When I talk about CLA students I talk about graduates who at 40 are contributing to your neighborhood because of what they learned here.”
The center is expected to open in 2022.