On July 1, SUNY Fredonia officially opened its new College of Visual and Performing Arts, formally combining its world-renowned School of Music with its strong departments of Theatre and Dance, and Visual Arts and New Media, as well as the Michael C. Rockefeller Arts Center. In doing so, the university named Dr. Ralph J. Blasting (at right) as its founding dean.
Dr. Blasting comes to Fredonia from Siena College in Albany, N.Y., where he has served as dean of its College of Liberal Arts since 2004. In this role he oversaw nearly 100 faculty and 1,300 students within 11 departments. During his tenure the campus added new tenure track faculty positions, established new academic programs and partnerships with area cultural organizations, and built new academic facilities.
Prior to joining Siena, Blasting was a member of the Department of Theatre Arts at Towson University in Baltimore from 1989 to 2004, serving as chair since 1997. A native of Herkimer, N.Y., he holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Scenic Design/Technical Theatre from Wayne State University, a Master of Arts in Theatre History from the University of Michigan, and a doctorate in Drama Studies from the University of Toronto.
“I am honored to have been selected for this exciting new position,” Blasting said. “SUNY Fredonia’s arts programs have a powerful reputation already, because of their quality and focus on student achievement. Together, we will strengthen and expand SUNY Fredonia’s national and global presence in the arts.”
Discussions to form SUNY Fredonia’s new College of Visual and Performing Arts began in 2008, as the university sought to leverage several of its core strengths to create a more cross-disciplinary environment for student learning and faculty collaboration. The decision was made to proceed in 2011, with the dean search commencing in 2012.
In addition to working with more than 120 faculty and staff, Dr. Blasting will also oversee the pending 40,000-square-foot addition to the Rockefeller Arts Center, the campus’ 120,000-square-foot fine and performing arts complex.