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Published: Thursday, 4/14/2005

Former head of museum returns for BGSU speech

BY TAHREE LANE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Creativity and community service should be perpetuated by universities and colleges.

Roger Mandle, former director of the Toledo Museum of Art, will spell out how that can happen in his free public lecture today at 4 p.m. in Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theatre at Bowling Green State University.

We are at once the wellsprings of context for community success, and also the beneficiaries of the strong cities and towns in which we work, Mandle writes. He provided The Blade with an advance copy of his speech.

Mandle, 63, has been president of the 2,300-student Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence for 12 years. He directed the Toledo Museum of Art from 1976 to 1988 during a period of intense growth. He then worked as deputy director and chief curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington until 1993.

The lecture honors arts activist Elizabeth Cole.

Creativity, Mandle writes, is both a cause and an indicator of an inspired, productive community. He notes that design has recently been adopted as part of Rhode Island s growth policy, a signal that creativity plays a significant part in attracting and maintaining businesses.

He points to the Center for Design and Business, developed by RISD and nearby Bryant University. Proven to have a positive economic impact, the center teaches artists and designers about business and helps business people understand the value of design.

The center has received $3 million from the Small Business Association to develop studios for nine start-up design businesses, and connects new-product developers with marketing, finance, venture capital, and design experts.

Mandle also says educators should teach students how to be a positive influence on their communities.

The community becomes a laboratory through which the students and faculty become responsible citizens, he writes.

Another pressure is fueling the need for city-college symbiosis: Municipalities are increasingly asking tax-exempt colleges for money. Colleges, he says, should negotiate individually with their municipalities to establish not only a financial sum, but also services as a good-faith extension of their missions.

He advocates service learning in which students volunteer in the community; new courses, and internships. Faculty can emphasize civic engagement as part of their programs. Such learning can open students to new ideas about careers.

RISD s Task Force on Community Service Learning, has established both new ways of funding and engagement for students and faculty who develop curriculum-relevant programs in the community. They held a community service fair and maintain a list of hundreds of internships around the globe, many of which are service-based.

The role of creativity in a community is a hot topic. In the last few years, Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, took his theories on the road, speaking in Toledo in 2003, and other cities. Nurturing creativity in compact urban areas can foster economic development, he said.

And at a recent roundtable discussion, Toledo Mayor Jack Ford, Toledo Museum of Art director Don Bacigalupi, Don Johnson, president of the University of Toledo, and others, discussed the role of arts and humanities at a metropolitan university.

The lecture is in honor of arts advocate Elizabeth Cole, who is retiring from BGSU as associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. Cole was previously at the University of Toledo, where she chaired the art department and taught from 1979 to 1994.

Contact Tahree Lane at: tlane@theblade.com or 419-724-6075.



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