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Message from the Dean

As I start my fourth year as Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, I look forward to several exciting opportunities that arise because of what we as a school have done to “connect the arts and humanities to the everyday life of the community.”

Ground has been broken and the foundations have been laid for the new Art Center, which you can see from Stockdale Highway. This will provide much-needed studio space for our Art faculty and students, who have been in “temporary” space for over thirty years.

This groundbreaking and foundation-laying is symbolic.

It represents where we are now as a school as we continue to build on our hard-won successes in providing lasting opportunities for our students. It is symbolic in another way: we are a working university, and the Art Center is a working building for the arts. It will have almost no office space and no frills. What it will have is a ceramics studio with wheels and kilns, a sculpture studio with cranes and welding equipment, and a digital media lab with cutting-edge technology. And it is scheduled to be ready for students in Fall 2015.

This year also marks the beginning of our yearlong celebration of the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Grapes of Wrath in 2014. The experiences of the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s classic novel have taken on mythic stature, and their descendents have become the heart and soul of Kern County. The cultural legacy of the Dust Bowl migration can be found in the values and character of the people of Bakersfield and the surrounding areas, and it can be heard in such local exports as the Bakersfield Sound. We celebrated this cultural legacy by presenting Merle Haggard with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts and Buck Owens with a posthumous Presidential Medal at the June 2013 commencement. We will continue to celebrate this legacy with a number of events. On October 13, 2013, we will welcome a group of artists and scholars from the National Steinbeck Center who are retracing of the Joads’ journey. We are supporting concerts by Merle Haggard, Arlo Guthrie, and the Bakersfield Youth Symphony, and theatrical performances such as From Dust Thou Art by Peter Grego. The celebration will culminate with an interdisciplinary academic conference November 7-8, 2014.

We hope that everyone can join us for these events. More details can be found at

Stay tuned to our newsletter AHA!: Arts and Humanities Alive for the latest in what is happening as we continue to connect and celebrate.  


Richard Collins
Dean, School of Arts and Humanities
California State University, Bakersfield

Dr. Richard Collins

Richard Collins

Dean, School of Arts and Humanities
California State University, Bakersfield
9001 Stockdale Highway
Bakersfield, CA  93311-1022
Phone: (661) 654-2221