By Kaylee Lindenmuth
Collaboration and community involvement are among the goals moving forward for the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, who was appointed in December.
Michelle Kiec, a New York native with a doctorate in clarinet performance, was appointed dean on Dec. 9, after serving as interim dean since June, and associate dean for the four years prior.
“Going forward, I’d love to continue what we have been doing, but also looking at how do we work collaboratively more, in addition to what we have been doing,” Kiec said. “How do we draw our departments together, or our programs together, and also how do we collaborate more with the outside entities, whether that’s another college or another program at KU, or maybe it’s a community, maybe it’s schools.”
One such outlet Kiec notes is KU Presents, which she says can show the results of the college’s programs to the outside world.
Kiec says the goal is to provide a single unified entity for artistic performances.
“When someone in the outside community says ‘I want to go hear a performance,’ they don’t have to look at two or three different places,” she said.
Kiec also says a goal is to help integrate art exhibits into KU Presents.
“We’re making sure things like, for the night we have a KU Presents show, the (art) gallery is open beforehand, and there might be something going on, maybe people would want to come see art, and then go to the show,” Kiec said. “(They’re) different ways that we can pair things like that to better bring the community in, in ways that we show them the great things that we’re doing here at KU.”
“I think, so often, we get so focused on what we’re doing internally, that sometimes we don’t stop and take a moment to say ‘well let’s show the world, and share with them what we’re doing,’” Kiec added.
Kiec also notes that continuing progress made over the previous five years, which had seen the creation of multiple programs, is a goal of hers moving forward. She says a focus during that timeframe had dealt with what programs students wanted, and what skills employers want.
“We want to offer programs that students want to study. If they don’t want to study the program, they probably won’t come here, and they won’t stay here,” Kiec said. “At the same time, we want to make sure our students are really well prepared for whatever comes next.”
One example she mentioned was the creation of a social media theory and strategies major.
“We’re hearing from a lot of employers, ‘We want good social media, we know it’s out there, but we want employees to come in that we don’t need to train, and who can maybe eventually train us’” Kiec said. “Other programs, we’re looking and saying ‘Well, what have we done, and is it what we still want to do, or has that discipline changed, and how do we not only keep up, but be on the front edge.”
Kiec holds a bachelor’s degree in saxophone performance, along with a master’s and doctorate in clarinet performance, and has performed with various symphonies and orchestras, including the Harrisburg Symphony, and Kentucky Symphony Orchestra.
Prior to KU, Kiec served as a professor for 12 years at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D.