ashland.news
July 23, 2024

Chair of communication selected as director of SOU’s new School of Arts & Communication

Andrew Kenneth Gay. SOU photo
November 2, 2023

SOU faculty board rep Andrew Gay to step down as trustee when he starts new role, including overseeing Oregon Center for the Arts

Ashland.news staff report

Southern Oregon University has hired Andrew Kenneth Gay, a professor and chair of Communication, Media & Cinema, as director of SOU’s new School of Arts & Communication, a role  which also includes overseeing the Oregon Center for the Arts at the university.

Gay has worn many professional “hats” since joining the SOU faculty in 2014, including his current appointment to the SOU Board of Trustees. With his new appointment, he will resign from the Board of Trustees effective Jan. 1.

In addition to his academic roles, Gay has served two years as chair of the Faculty Senate and led a recent three-year effort to transform SOU’s general education curriculum, according to SOU.

Gay will succeed David Humphrey, who created the Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU and led that division for 11 years. Humphrey is retiring at the end of December.

“Ashland and SOU have always been internationally recognized destinations for creativity, storytelling and human connection, and our new School of Arts & Communication continues that tradition with a renewed focus on interdisciplinary collaboration,” Gay said in a news release. “I’m thrilled to lead the new school and the Oregon Center for the Arts as we build a hub for creative careers and meaningful expression in our region and work to realize our students’ most ambitious dreams.”

SOU’s School of Arts & Communication, which was initiated this fall, combines the university’s Theatre, Music and Creative Arts departments with its Communication, Media & Cinema department, among other programs. All share components related to performance, creativity and production, and new opportunities for collaboration are created by placing them under the same school.

“I’m excited about having the opportunity to develop two missions and two strategic plans around these two entities that are very interrelated, but can serve different purposes,” Gay told Ashland.news in an interview on Thursday.

“We have the School of Arts & Communication … being the academic mission of serving our students, and with the Oregon Center for the Arts, having the opportunity to become a really standout, nationally recognized regional hub for arts and culture. We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of partners to engage with in terms of developing a strategic plan.”

Gay sees an opportunity to rethink community engagement with the OCA as well as expanding the variety of arts.

“From my own background, I’m thinking about … how can film be brought into that?” he said. “How can emerging media be brought into that?”

“I’m really excited about exploring looking at what other regional arts centers do and what makes them special,” he added.

All of the university’s 46 undergraduate and 10 graduate-level academic programs have been distributed among four “schools” beginning this fall, rather than the seven “divisions” that previously administered the programs, according to SOU. The shift is aimed toward efficiency in SOU’s administrative structure, and was a key part of the cost management plan adopted last spring by the Board of Trustees.

The university’s undergraduate program in Digital Cinema was created under Gay’s leadership in 2019. The program launched an innovative, 12-credit spring immersion course called “The Crew Experience” in 2022, and later that year the program was accepted as a member of the prestigious Green Film School Alliance.

Gay received the Teaching Excellence Award from the University Film and Video Association (UFVA) in 2022 and earned SOU’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2021.

He teaches digital cinema courses in storytelling, screenwriting, directing, producing, production management, film festival programming, career design and development, and short film production. He is the former board president of Film Southern Oregon, previously sat on the board of the Oregon Media Production Association, has been a programmer for the Ashland Independent Film Festival and serves on the Teaching Committee for EDIT Media (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Teaching Media) and on the board for the University Film & Video Association (UFVA).

Gay came to SOU in 2014 from the University of Central Florida, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in Film and Digital Media, and his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Film Production. He has a bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy/Religion from Flagler College.

Gay has also worked as a freelance production coordinator, production manager and assistant director in commercials, reality television and independent film, and for such companies as Red Bull, Discovery and Disney. He has written, directed and produced for both fiction and documentary media.

“I am especially excited to know that our students will benefit from Andrew’s collaborative and interdisciplinary vision for the future,” said Susan Walsh, SOU’s provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, in announcing Gay’s promotion to the campus community in a news release.

Gay echoed that his multifaceted experience brings stability to the OCA amid much transition at the university, including the hiring of a new provost.

He also noted that his is a “3-D perspective” that has given him the opportunity to look at the university from various vantage points. 

“I’m bringing a lot of institutional memory and a lot of understanding about how the systems work,” Gay said.

He is currently visiting with provost candidates along with a group tasked with interviewing candidates.

Walsh has already stated plans to retire as provost in 2024, and Gay is currently on hand during interviews to fill her role. A new provost will likely come on board by June 2024, Gay said.

Email Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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