Lehigh University
Lehigh University

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ArtsLehigh director named

Silagh White

ArtsLehigh—the all-university program designed to promote, integrate, and facilitate the arts, creativity, and an aesthetic sensibility throughout the curriculum—has named Silagh (pronounced Shee-lah) White, the director of the Muse Machine for the Performing Arts Council of Toledo, as the program’s first administrative director.

Dedicated to building a “creative campus” at Lehigh, ArtsLehigh will officially begin during the academic year 2005-06 with the organization of an arts pre-orientation program for incoming students and several new “integrative partnerships” involving the university and the community. University Distinguished Professor Norman Girardot continues to serve as faculty coordinator and co-director.

“Not many universities are willing to take the bold steps that Lehigh has in embracing the arts in the way that this program intends,” says White, who was named to the position after an extensive national search. “To be a leader in this initiative is an incredible opportunity to help demonstrate not only the value of arts and aesthetic sensibility through an integrated curriculum, but also to prove the effectiveness of the arts in building community and strong partnerships, both on campus and off.”

To accomplish these goals, White says, “there must be an understanding of the synergy between teaching and learning. ArtsLehigh will demonstrate a thorough understanding of how contextual, inquiry-based and hands-on experiential learning in the arts enhance and enrich education. It will utilize the resources already available, promote new resources and initiatives, and encourage fresh ways of thinking about how the arts contribute to the development of creative minds and communities.”

Building partnerships and programs

White comes to Lehigh with a rich and diverse background in the arts, as performer, administrator, and community volunteer. After completing her doctorate in bassoon performance at the Eastman School of Music, she worked as a musician and librarian for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

During this tenure, and while still in the process of completing the final chapters of her academic pursuits, she became concerned with problems associated with increasing cultural awareness and the community’s appreciation of classical music and the arts in general.

After attending numerous seminars on orchestra management, completing an internship with the RPO, and several years working with Young Audiences of America, she found herself being called to a different kind of work than traditionally expected from classically trained bassoonists.

White took her newly honed arts management skills to northwest Ohio when her husband began a new business venture in Bowling Green. In her position with Toledo’s Performing Arts Council, she worked closely with high school teachers to find ways to integrate artistic experiences into the curriculum and to arrange for special cultural experiences for high school students outside of the classroom.

The program’s success led many arts organizations and schools in northwest Ohio to develop new partnerships and programs specifically geared for high school students and their teachers. In recognition of her contributions to area arts and culture, White was invited to join the staff of the Toledo Museum of Art as coordinator of community events, as well as oversee the specialized Music Docent Program.

She also taught music history courses for Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts and Owens Community College, and served as bassoon instructor for Heidelberg College and the University of Toledo. She provided program notes and lectures for the Lima (Ohio) Symphony and hosted classical music programs on WGTE Public Radio in Toledo. She has served on a number of advisory boards for various cultural organizations, and is in-demand as a speaker on a variety of topics in the arts and culture.

ArtsLehigh grew out an initiative spearheaded by the former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Bobb Carson, several years ago. The program received start-up funding from the Provost’s Office last year.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Wednesday, March 30, 2005

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