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Columbia College Chicago
Letter from the Chairman
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Clockwise from top: Dance students David Gerber, Camille McLucas, Jade Robertson, and Virginia Cook.

Letter from the Chairman


An annual report offers us an opportunity to update you, supporters of Columbia College Chicago, on the state of the institution. It provides an opportunity to reflect on successes of the past year, and we’ve had many. The charts and graphs in this report demonstrate those successes quite nicely, clearly illustrating our strong financial footing in the face of the current economic downturn, and our continuing growth in terms of applications, enrollment, geographic diversity, and student satisfaction. The annual report also gives us an opportunity to brag a little—about being the largest arts and media college in the country, about our demonstrated commitment to access and opportunity, about our marvelously diverse student
body, our wonderful faculty, our dedicated trustees, and our vibrant urban campus. We can, and should, reflect on the past year and our many successes.

But I also want to talk about the future … and what we’re doing to equip our students for success in our rapidly changing twenty-first-century culture. What do we do differently than other colleges, and better than other colleges, to prepare people to actively participate as cultural producers in the new millennium?

This means students don’t come to Columbia only to gain a skill set in how to write a story, or how to edit a film, or how to operate a camera, or how to choreograph a dance. They will learn all that, certainly, but they will also learn about analysis, discernment, research, critique; they will learn how to create, manage, strategize, and make connections within the context of the world. By now we’re all familiar with the conversation about the “left brain” and the “right brain”: one side being practical and the other creative; one side for accountants and the other for artists. Perhaps at one time thinking that way was sufficient, even useful. But it isn’t now, and it certainly won’t be in the future. In this era of global interaction and global competition, both are essential. Our students must learn how to be successful in an age in which thinking conceptually, no matter what profession one chooses to pursue, is a necessity.

At Columbia, we think this means preparing them to look at the big picture, to compare ideas, to connect anything and everything across the spectrum of thought and expression to tell the stories that create our culture. Our students may choose to tell those stories through dance, music, film, or art. They may tell them in American Sign Language. They may tell them in books or newspapers, in poems, or by establishing or managing businesses that provide forums in which others can thrive. They may teach them to children or help communities find their voices to tell their stories. Together, our students will tell the stories that comprise our culture, and create our future.

We have a methodology that sets us apart: we provide instruction in the arts and media within the context of an enlightened, liberal arts education.

Allen M. Turner
Chairman, Columbia College Chicago
Board of Trustees