Skip to content
Contact USI

Del Doughty, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Liberal Arts

A Word from the Dean

It was the week before our inaugural Summer Academy and our office team members were sitting around the table in our conference room reviewing plans one last time before the campers arrived.

“The Academy will be our top priority next week,” I said.

“And we’ll show up with stupid big energy,” said Julie. “It will be a lot of fun.”

“’Going on a Bear Hunt’ energy,” added Kristalyn. “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it . . . gotta go through it.”

We all laughed. I wouldn’t want to say we were nervous about it, but we were nervous, mainly because none of us had produced a summer day camp before. We wanted the kids to have fun, to learn some worthwhile things and for the event to be a success overall.

When Monday, June 3 arrived and the students began showing up, we led them into Kleymeyer Hall. There were about two dozen campers, and except for one or two pairs, they mostly sat by themselves and scanned the room with wide eyes. They ranged in age from rising high school freshmen to graduated seniors, and they came from all over— local publics, a couple privates, a few from Kentucky and at least one who was home schooled. In short, they were a motley bunch, and as they looked around the room, you could almost hear them thinking, “Are any of these people my people? Will I fit in here? Is it too late to call my mom and go back home?”

We led off with a couple of icebreakers that produced a mild thaw, and then we took the group to Starbucks. Never underestimate the power of a sugary caffeine drink to get people talking and chatting. By lunch time, after the students had completed their first activity (printmaking with Brett Anderson, ceramics with Al Holen or ghost stories with Jenn Horn), the students were getting to know each other and beginning to discover mutual interests and affinities. By Wednesday, the group had relaxed and began to bond. In the mornings, the campers coalesced into groups of twos and threes, and instead of awkward silence, there was the ambient buzz of chit-chat.

The activities were key. Throughout the week, students got opportunities to experience, in addition to the aforementioned activities, woodworking with Rob Millard Mendez, painting with Nancy Raen-Mendez, leadership with Dr. Trent Engbers, ancient codes and riddles with Dr. David O’Neil, GIF-making with Dr. Greg Blair and a suite of creative mind-benders (including an escape room) with Dr. Kristina Baker, Dr. Urska Dobersek, Dr. Julie Eyink and Dr. Zach Pilot. In planning the Academy’s curriculum, the idea was to give students a “taste” of the liberal arts. We wanted to give them direct exposure to a variety of disciplines they might not otherwise have a chance to experience in their K-12 journeys. As we all know, there are some negative narratives out there about the liberal arts, and we saw the Academy as a way to challenge those narratives and change perceptions. We also did some non-liberal arts things, of course, like watching a movie one afternoon, playing volleyball and going for a hike. We made sure we had plenty of snacks.

When the Academy wrapped up on Friday, we felt it was a success. Sure, there were some surprises and a couple of behavioral issues, but we powered through (“Can’t go over it . . . can’t go under it . . . gotta go through it!”) Students indicated they enjoyed the activities' hands-on nature and valued the opportunity to meet new people and make friends. They also expressed a desire to explore other disciplines that weren’t offered this time, everything from archeology to radio/television to sociology and all stops in between. Yoga also collected some votes. Asked whether they would return next year, nearly everyone responded with a “yes” or “maybe;” no one said “no.”

A few days after the camp concluded, one parent wrote—unprompted by any solicitation on our part—"My daughter did your camp and absolutely loved it! She had the best time and not only that, but you just won a victory for me and for you, because now my child is interested in attending USI. While I've been working on that myself; I couldn't possibly have gotten her interest spiked the way that you did, and now she wants to audit a class, if possible."

That’s exactly what we were going for. We will be running our Academy again next year and invite your participation!

Featured Story:

The first Annual CLA Summer Academy was a blast!

Twenty-one local high school students visited campus June 3 - 7 for the first Annual CLA Summer Academy, a fun and educational day camp full of liberal arts activities!  

These activities included ceramics, woodworking, psychology, creative writing, graphic design, painting, leadership development and printmaking 

Thanks to all the professors who taught during the first CLA Summer Academy! They did an amazing job, and the kids loved all the activities! 

  • Al Holen  
  • Jenn Horn  
  • Brett Anderson 
  • Nancy Raen-Mendez 
  • Dr. David O’Neil 
  • Dr. Trent Engbers  
  • Dr. Zachary Pilot  
  • Dr. Julie Eyink 
  • Dr. Urska Dobersek  
  • Dr. Kristina Baker 
  • Dr. Greg Blair 
  • Rob Millard Mendez 

Check out what the students did each day during CLA Summer Academy 

Featured Upcoming Event

Black Art Workshop and Exhibition

Workshop: Friday, June 28 – Sunday, June 30

Exhibition: Monday, June 24 – Friday, August 30

The University of Southern Indiana Art and Design Department will partner with the Evansville African American Museum to present the Black Art Workshop and Exhibition in the McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries, located in the lower level of the Liberal Arts Center. 

“The workshop aims to offer exclusive space for the representation and mentoring of Black artists. To specify, one must be a regional or local Black artist to participate at the Evansville African American Museum as an artist or artist instructor,” said Tory Schendel-Vyvoda, Curator of the Evansville African American Museum. “Since no venue in Evansville is exclusively dedicated to representing Black artists, this initiative fulfills a community need while adhering to the mission of the Evansville African American Museum.” 

Learn more and sign up