Connections: Sabbatical 1998 • Epilogue
Since returning from my sabbatical and filing this report, I have had many experiences that have clarified for me the problems that exist between the university's administration and the creative faculty, particularly in the area of the visual arts. The three examples that follow are a few of the major issues that create problems between artist faculty and administrators.
1. Using University Facilities for Creating Personal Works
I have been personally attacked by the university administration for using university facilities and equipment for doing my own work. It is mostly understood by the administration that scientists who do research have this right. With creative faculty, that understanding seems to be lacking. The publicity that occurs when a scientist receives the Nobel Prize is obvious. When a visual artist receives the small amount of publicity that occurs from a one-man show, as an example, it is not so obvious.
Another factor is that there is little money for grants awarded to artists for pursuing their work. Few artists of any creative discipline make any appreciable money from their work, especially sculptors, because of the considerable expense in producing their work. It is ironic—or some would say unfair—that in order to be respected and promoted, artists are dependent on showing their work, winning awards and grants. This is a vicious circle. It was Aaron Copland who said, "There is money for institutions of music to perform music, but very little for the composer of music." This is most likely because donors can have their names attached to the wall or added to a plaque.
2. Appropriate Concern for Work Place Safety
Safety has always been an overriding concern for me. I have always worked pretty much alone in supervising and administrating the Art Department Sculpture Program. Although it may be recognized that sculpture is unique in its safety considerations, the person in charge is left up to their own concerns because it is obviously specialized and complicated to comprehend. I have found that a chairman, often with a lack of understanding will go so far as to ignore the sculptor supervisor’s directives and undermine their authority. This is sometimes done on a whim without appeal. This kind of attitude seriously compromises safety.
The concern and supervising of safety must be directly under the supervision of the Head of Sculptor without interference from anyone but Osha and Environmental Heath and Safety. The only exception to this is when the Head of Sculpture can be proven to be negligent and incompetent in carrying out their responsibilities. To put this in graphic terms, if a student or faculty member is about to seriously harm or compromise safety to themselves or others they must be stopped immediately without any second-guessing.
It is my opinion that safety equipment and renovation should be removed from departmental funding and decision making and given over to Environmental Health and Safety with the Head of Sculpture and instructors as advisers and consultants without Department or Administrational interference. In short, there should an unencumbered funding source regarding safety issues, and this should not be left to the decision of amateurs.
3. Lack of Empathy for Fellow Faculty Members by The Administration and Other Fellow Faculty Members
Another concern of mine is what I perceive as a world becoming sociopathic. The most horrible recent example is the destruction of the World Trade Center that had its precedence in Nazi Germany and in the nuclear bombing of Japan. On a smaller scale, I see examples of this behavior even at the level of everyday interactions when an institution can get rid of someone to balance a budget or employ two younger employees for the price of an older one. It is rife even among colleagues, when one will do or say anything to bring down another for personal gain. This is all done with no thought or concern in destroying another person’s life.
This Sabbatical Report is to be only one section of my autobiography. When I complete the biography I will clarify the above in a section that will deal with the time in my life after 1998. I have already outlined and completed most of my first and second European trips as well as my first and second trips to Mexico, prior to my sabbatical trip. There will be an ongoing attempt to flesh out the text to make it more meaningful and to add my photos and other illustrations as needed.
There will also be additional sections devoted to my childhood, adolescence, education, creative years including this Sabbatical Report and the years since then with updates.