Five Questions for Jean M. Miller, ISU Dean of Fine Arts | local education

Each week, The Pantagraph features a different member of the community. Do you know someone to talk to? Email [email protected]

Position: Dean of Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University


1. What is your role as Dean?

I often say that I have the best job on campus. As Dean of Fine Arts, I am immersed in the affairs of the university, but also work closely with colleagues and students from the School of Music, School of Drama and Dance, from Wonsook Kim School of Art, Creative Technology Program, University Galleries, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Design Streak, New Editions Workshop and Big Red Marching Machine! Together, we develop creative initiatives for our students and the community. This is my eighth year as Dean at ISU, and each year brings unexpected opportunities and surprises.

2. What projects is the college working on?

We are working on the final plans for the $61.9 million fine arts rehabilitation project. Over the past 18 months, college leadership has worked closely with staff from the State of Illinois Capital Development Board, Ratio Architects in Champaign, HGA in Minneapolis, and architects and planning, design, and construction staff from UIS facilities. I call us the dream team. This project involves five of the college buildings, so it is expected that it will take two to three years to complete. Over the summer, much of the college moved into temporary buildings on campus in preparation for demolition and construction to begin late next spring or early summer.

3. What has the quorum planned for the community this year?

I am proud to announce that the Illinois Symphony Orchestra has moved its symphony concerts to the Center for the Performing Arts in Illinois for the season. This is an opportunity for ISO and the college to work together to further develop performing arts opportunities for all, on and off campus. The college and ISO will greatly benefit from this partnership. The college will continue to offer over 300 performances, public lectures and exhibitions throughout the year. Every year we try to take a new approach to our flagship events, and this year was no exception.

4. Does the college have new academic programs?

Game design, audio and music production, and film and digital media are new college specialties. All three programs attract a large number of entry and transfer students. Next year we will be offering a major in VR/XR. Prospective and continuing students are already inquiring about this. Along with music, drama, art, and dance education programs, these new majors will be directly linked to career opportunities.

5. Is there anything you would like to share about yourself?

My family still operates an excavation business in Minnesota for 60 years. Living on a farm and being part of a family business taught me to work hard to overcome obstacles, including cold winters and unpredictable rains and droughts. Often I think about how my upbringing influenced my decision to become a dean.

I think it’s about learning to take risks, to manage failures as well as successes, to organize work groups, to be part of a team and to want to improve everyone’s life.

Contact Roger Miller at (309) 820-3233. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_rmiller

About Madeline J. Carter

Check Also

STYX World Tour 2023 arrives at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, January 2023

STYX 2023 World Tour arrives at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at FSW on …