From Local Partnerships Stem Global Opportunities

Higher Education

BY DR. LARRY THOMPSON SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY AUG 27, 2016

It all starts here. Sarasota and Manatee counties are evolving and expanding to accommodate new talent and ideas. We are discovering new ways to work together to expand our reach and impact. At no time is this more relevant than at the start of the academic year. Every August we welcome an influx of fresh thinkers hungry for the opportunity to learn, grow and contribute. In fact, this year we are embracing nearly 13,000 new students collectively.

Gone are the days when students sat in classrooms, fenced off from the community. Our students, and those at neighboring institutions along the Creative Coast, collaborate with local and regional businesses, get involved with events and seize opportunities to gain work experience while building their résumés and portfolios and helping the community.

It is our job as established organizations and institutions to provide access and opportunities that strengthen our community and raise the profile of our region. Working together, we are attracting and retaining talent, delivering unrivaled education and experiences and evolving to consider new ways of thinking and creating.

And these collaborations pay off. This summer, our returning students worked here and all over the globe to enhance their creative skills and bring expertise to the area. Through a unique partnership with the International Center for Photography, we sent a student to New York for a year to study and make valuable connections. Our film students wrapped production of Dylan McDermott’s web series, Sugar, and this past week we were named no. 16 of the 2016 Top American Film Schools by the Hollywood Reporter—the youngest film program to make the list. We served as a community supporter for the recent screening of the film Design Disruptors, exploring design and its importance in our lives and will be hosting an on-campus screening this academic year. Through the Collaboratory, students worked with the Boys and Girls Club to develop the interior design concept for the new Tom and Debbie Shapiro Career Resource Center, and now they are working with Hoyt Architects to build the contemporary space slated to open this fall. Furthermore, our ART Network students won their fifth and sixth Telly awards for video production projects done with community partners.

Although our various organizations have different missions, expectations and ambitions, we understand that we are greater together. As we roll into the fall, we look forward to partnering in new and exciting ways that mutually benefit our students and community. AtLarge, Inc. will be bringing the international PINC conference back to the area for the third time, and we are proud to call ourselves partnering sponsors of this phenomenal event. Our students are working with the Bradenton Area CVB to create a mural along Tamiami Trail, leading into Bradenton. Collaborations like these are what make our area so special—and what will ultimately strengthen and carry our region onto the global stage.

Dr. Larry R. Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art and Design.

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