We’re number …. what now?

reviewlogoThe Princeton Review has just released the annual list of  “[insert whatever of 58 topics here] college lists. Here are some of the topics where Lehigh ranked in the top 20.

  • Best College Library – Lehigh made # 20
  • Best Science Lab Facilities – Lehigh made # 14
  • Top Party Schools – Lehigh made # 6
  • Little Race/Class Interaction – Lehigh made #10
  • Town-Gown Relations Strained – Lehigh made #3. At least Duke beat us on this one.

For those interested, here is a link to their Lehigh University profile.

The criteria for the rankings:

Based on surveys of 130,000 students (average 343 per campus) at the colleges in the book in 2013-14 and/or the previous two school years. The survey asks students 80 questions about their school’s academics, administration, student body, and themselves. The ranking methodology uses a five-point Likert scale (1-most disagree, 2-disagree, 3-neutral, 4-agree, 5-most agree)  to convert qualitative student assessments (a.k.a, student’s opinions) into quantitative (a.k.a, numbers that offer ranking scale) data for school-to-school comparisons.

No school has ever paid a fee to be profiled in the Princeton Review.

The Princeton Review list is very different from the US World News & Report rankings in which this year, Lehigh was tied with FIVE others schools at #41. According to their website: “The host of intangibles that make up the college experience can’t be measured by a series of data points. But for families concerned with finding the best academic value for their money, the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings provide an excellent starting point for the search.”

Their criteria is a bit more robust: Schools in the National Universities category offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and Ph.D. programs, and emphasize faculty research. Topics such as faculty resources (student/ faculty ratio, # of PhDs), student retention, tuition, graduation rate, financial resources, and alumni giving rate are measured. But the topic that gets the most significant weight is the undergraduate academic reputation: opinions of those in a position to judge a school’s undergraduate academic excellence. The academic peer assessment survey allows top academics – presidents, provosts and deans of admissions – to account for intangibles at peer institutions such as faculty dedication to teaching.

While no one has ever paid to boost school rankings directly, there is a significant amount of resources (time, energy and money) allocated to make sure our reputation reflects our adherence to the educational mission of the school:

“To advance learning through the integration of teaching, research, and service to others.”

(read the full mission statement here)

The Princeton Review (to some) may have about the same credibility as a Buzzfeed Survey. To potential future students or parents of future students, these rankings can be a significant influencer on their school choice or their expectations of their experience before they even get here.

Why do I (an arts administrator at Lehigh) check the Princeton Review lists? Because it’s good to know what might be informing student expectations about their campus experience on all levels of life and learning. Institutional awareness means listening to student opinions as well as finding other research studies that inform our continuous improvement. Yes, there’s always room for improvement.

Why write a blog post about it? Because some of our non-campus readers may hear us talking about this topic in whispered tones over coffee or lunch in the community? Or maybe it’s because it’s a national news item every time the rankings are updated. Some may wonder if it is validation, or a distraction. Either way on this topic, we bob our heads up once a year to size up ourselves against our aspirational and peer institutions. Then we go back to work in service to the students who choose to come to Lehigh.

Now… what can we do to improve our score on strained Town-Gown relations?

YouTube about to change drastically – things you should know

Independent career networking and promotion in the arts via YouTube is going to be changing drastically. Soon. Announced just days ago,

youtube-logo2“YouTube is preparing to radically change the site, adding a subscription service that is intended to help them compete in the streaming music industry. The Google-owned video site has already signed new licensing deals with all of the major labels, but many independents are refusing to take part.” (read more in the Forbes article by Hugh Macintire) and the subsequent post by Ellen Huet (keep sculling under the first article) in which she describes more directly what is happening:

“YouTube is launching a paid subscription streaming music service to compete with Spotify and Pandora later this summer. It will be integrated with the free, ad-supported YouTube users are used to, but with added features available to paying subscribers.”

As an arts administrator, I use YouTube daily for research and for audience development. I’m not exactly sure how this change will impact the tools for the trade. I use YouTube videos to help people get a sense for artists they’ve never heard of; musicians, dancers, spoken word, speeches. I link to videos frequently for relevant content on social media sites. Curating art content would be a huge hit if the independent artists I support are going to have new limits on how we get to know them in a virtual world. I’m wondering what local musicians are thinking.

Before any conversation though, I’m now looking up artists like Dina Hall, Not for Coltrane, Dave Fry (this is not his channel, but a really cool TEDx Talk he gave worth a listen)*, Philadelphia Funk Authority *, Jon Fadem, Large Flowerheads, Dave Doll (And his band Beautiful Distortion), Alisa B Anderson, …

Paul Salerni, Bill Warfield, Steven Sametz, Eugene Albulescu, Michael Jorgensen, and the list can go on to include all the performance faculty, composition students current and alumni…. or even precious videos of Lehigh University’s ensembles.

After that brief research exercise, I found some names listed above have their own channels, others were tagged so that I could easily find videos in which they appear. By golly, if the capacity to gather these sounds in order for their artistry to speak for itself is limited – we’re all going to have to rethink how we touch the music. How will this change our habits, our constant need to have everything available through the keystrokes of our devices? Might we actually see more live music and … PAY FOR IT?!?!?

Some reflection in view of my vinyl record collection is required. Maybe I’ll up my biannual contribution to public radio. Thoughts are running by so furiously – I’m not sure where to end this post. Maybe I’ll just stop typing and turn on some music I actually paid for.

[any and all thoughts and conversation welcome here or in person if you see me at the next Farmer's Market in Campus Square, before a show at Godfrey Daniels, hanging around the Sun Inn Court Yard, the City Hall Sculpture Garden, Levitt Pavillion at Steelstacks or in the Zoellner lobby] Trust me – this issue is just as compelling as Net Neutrality.

Maybe John Oliver will do an episode on this, too.

* internet searching always gives me a few distractions that lead down unexpected rabbit holes. But they also trigger other ideas and connections. Like, the TEDxTalk I’m dreaming about – and the fact that the Philly Funk Authority is playing in the Sculpture Garden 6-8pm on Friday.

A profound sadness amidst the celebration of music.


Want to know about a Bethlehem music champion that left us too soon?

Originally posted on Godfrey Daniels!:

by Dave Fry

How does one define Space? It has no boundaries, to begin with.


We lost our immediate personification of Space when we lost our own Mike Space this week, who passed in his sleep in his new home in the Caribbean.  He was recreating another chapter in his active and creative life with his soul mate Judi Space, off on the island paradise of Vieques.



When Mike and Judi moved up to the Lehigh Valley from Philly, he brought with him his love of folk music, art, good food and general large living, along with his hands-on skills as a mechanic. And it was his love of getting under the hood that made him invaluable as he began his career as a folk-music promoter, sound man, and radio DJ.

Personally, he was the right man for the big job of Artistic Director at Godfrey’s when he…

View original 428 more words

The Arts Scene in Bethlehem, is All About Family

Last Wednesday, I had a chance to sneak into the Ice House for a quick peek on a legendary event. I was only able to stay for one song (dang over-commitment habit), but I saw enough to be in awe of this community.

The event was a benefit concert for one of Bethlehem’s most amazing musicians and great human being; Dave Fry. Lots of folks from the arts community were there – almost just about everyone. I saw so many familiar faces, and a ton of folks I know were there because of their love of the man of the night. You see, Dave Fry needs help. He’s got some ridiculous medical bills and some of his closest friends decided it was time to help the guy who helps so many.

Dave has lots of friends. Lots of good friends. Here’s just a couple:

photo by Hub Wilson

photo by Hub Wilson

<– From left to right, that’s Terry Mutchler, John Gorka, David Bromberg, and Dave Fry. Even getting Hub’s picture for this post is a sign of love and support for Dave. All I had to do was ask – Hub delivered. Same as getting into the balcony to take a quick shot of the crowd before the concert started. All I had to do was ask – and respectfully do what I said I would do – write this post.

photo by Silagh White

photo by Silagh White

Here’s a couple [hundred, maybe 260, give or take if I'm talking to the Fire Marshall] more of Dave’s friends. —————- >

It was an incredible evening of love. The music was great. Dave’s stories were funny (even new). And we got to hear some amazing music from John Gorka, David Bromberg, Ansel Barnum and Dave.

As I was collecting thoughts for this post, just reading Dave’s Facebook Page is like a great big hug; not gushy, over the top narcissism. Dave works his butt off, plays his heart out, and never has a bad word to say about anyone. He gives his all no matter if he’s playing to a crowd of grown ups, or hundreds of kids in a school assembly.

If you’ve seen a school assembly, you know how hard it can be to keep 200+ grade schoolers engaged. You want to know tough audiences? Kids can be brutal. But never with Dave. Why? Because he loves them. He knows they love his music. The kids know he loves them, too. It’s pretty obvious just by watching them dance to his music.

I’m proud to say we have both of his kids’ CDs, “I Like Peanut Butter” (1998) and “Shake It” (2001). True story; for my kids’ 4th birthday, we hired Dave to play a little concert at the Lehigh University Child Care. I just couldn’t take another hour at Chuck E Cheese (Can you say Dante’s Inferno?). It was so cool to have the kids wiggling around, dancing, singing, being silly (*gratuitous historical image at the bottom of post). When it was over, we packed up and went to our favorite pizza parlor. Singing Dave’s songs all the way to our hot and cheesy pie.

Why do I burden the reader with a tale of family? Because Dave became part of ours at that birthday party. My kids now go to Holy Infancy School, just down the street from Godfrey Daniels. Dave goes to this school often. We might even hear some stuff from the school on his next album – which, BTW, was funded by Linney Fowler before she died. How cool is it that she saw enough community good in Dave’s work, that she helped him cover the studio recording and production costs. Putting together an album of music is a leap of faith. Linney had faith in Dave Fry. And I have faith that this community will come through for Dave, too.

Dave’s health is “doing fine,” (his words) but there’s still those nagging medical bills. If you have a little bit to give, here’s how you can help out the guy who is nothing but pure joy in this community. Here is how you can make a still make a donation.

Mail your check (payable to Dave Fry) to Godfrey’s address, 7 E Fourth St, Bethlehem 18015.
If you have a PayPal account, send contributions directly to Dave’s PayPal account, via his email address DaveFryMusic@juno.com

If you need a little motivation to pull out your wallet, or check your bank account, enjoy this video of John Gorka’s song, composed just for the occasion:

March 21, 2007 - photo by S White

Gratuitous Historical Image
March 21, 2007 – photo by S White

Are You a Princess?


Have you ever wished you had time to read the book before you found out an international renowned author was coming to campus? Do you wish for time to read the work of an author, reflect on  ideas, perhaps even engage intellectual dialogue with an academic colleague?

Well you have the power in your own ruby slippers to make this happen. Click your heels three times and join the Women’s Center for a book discussion in preparation for Peggy Orenstein‘s upcoming visit to Lehigh, part of Zoellner Arts Center’s 2013-2014 Season.

We will read and discuss Orenstein’s popular book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture.

Chapters 1-6:
Tuesday, June 11 at 8am-9am or Wednesday, June 12 at 3pm-4pm
Discussion led by Brooke DeSipio, assistant director of the Women’s Center

Chapters 7-10:
Tuesday, June 18 at 8am-9am or Wednesday, June 19 at 12pm-1pm
Discussion led by Rita Jones, director of the Women’s Center

Please rsvp with Traci Mindler (trm211@lehigh.edu or phone 610-758-6484) by 5pm TODAY (May 22) to reserve your complimentary copy of the book and to note which dates you will attend. You will receive a follow-up email after you rsvp.


plaque Last night, the Arts@Lehigh blog won the “Art” category title of  the My Choice Voice – Best of the Lehigh Valley Blog contest. I’m thrilled that our readers and friends gave the support by their votes. The significance of this award is in a few areas:

1. Blogging isn’t something you need permission to do. You just do it. If there is something important that needs to be said, shared or discussed, you don’t have to wait for someone else to say it, share it, or start the discussion. Blogs are a readily available tool that anyone can do. In addition to writing blogs, feel free to expand your understanding of the universe by reading other blogs. Last night was another reminder of the breadth and depth of local bloggers. I have come to know many of these people through their blogs; a few of them I would call good friends. Only one other person on the list of bloggers last night works at Lehigh. He is such a supportive friend in Arts@Lehigh’s communications efforts. Thanks, Prof. Twitter.

2. The arts are all around us. While “arts” might not be the identity many of us boldly wear on our sleeves, the instrument that is displaying these words, the chair you may be sitting on while you are reading this sentence, or if you happen to glance away from the screen – you will see something that is informed by art. Art is not merely entertainment. It is discovery and communication. To be able to write about art, to share information about art, or to simply be artful – is why we blog about it. As Alec Baldwin said, “Art is all around me. So maybe I should introduce myself.”

3. The Lehigh Valley is full of creative, passionate and dedicated people who also support many things. Last night, all of the people at the event shared the “blogger” identity; but also have multiple talents and dreams. While some may just want people to “lighten up and find fun in your own back yard,” others are dedicated to sharing their passion for vegan cooking, Lehigh Valley sports, or the humor they see in their daily lives.

I’d like to thank again, the Morning Call for their support of local blogging. I also need to personally thank all of the readers who voted in the contest. Here’s a slide show of images taken by the Morning Call. See the entire album here.

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Department of Theatre- Graduating Seniors

Lehigh University’s Department of Theatre wishes these graduating students hearty congratulations and well wishes! They have been highly active in multiple productions, both on stage and behind the scenes. We thank them for their contributions to the arts at Lehigh University, and look forward to seeing them again. They have delighted, inspired and shared their passions. We are truly moved by their dedication. Some of them may still be here for a fifth year – we support and thank them all!

Connor Marr

Casey Dutt

Brittany Geeta Johnson

Jon Hoffman

Luke Ingram

Andrew William Chupa

Rebecca Osborne

Erin Jenkins

Wonú Owo

Lorentz Aberg

Esperanza Pacheco

Lauren Christman

Emily Koehler

Sam Hodges

The 2013 Great Move Out Sale – Collecting Donations NOW!

Moveout2Arts@Lehigh would like to remind our readers that the university’s annual Move Out Collection Drive has started this week, and will run through Friday, May 24th.

Students who will be packing up at the end of the semester are encouraged to donate unwanted clothing, linens, electronics, school supplies, household items, furniture, and unopened food at designated locations within each residence hall or at Windish Hall (across from Rauch Business Center on East Packer Avenue).

Students, staff and faculty are also welcome to participate by volunteering to help by picking up donations and/or sorting them at Windish Hall in any shift from today through May 24th. Volunteers also needed to support the incredibly large, and amazingly heart warming Great South Side Sale coming up on Saturday, June 1st, at St. John’s Windish Church (corner of Fourth and Buchanan streets).

To volunteer in any capacity, please to go to http://www.lehigh.edu/~inserve/moveout.shtml

Proceeds from this sale will fund Lehigh University’s Afterschool Homework Clubs for South Bethlehem children; an important piece of our community school partnerships, and support for education in our community.

In addition to benefiting this worthwhile cause, the sale also helps recycle much-needed items back into the community, at extremely affordable prices. We really don’t want to see shameful waste in the dumpsters.

Unwanted items can be taken directly to Windish Hall from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m – Monday through Friday until May 24th, or at approved locations in Residence Halls.

More information can be found at http://www.lehigh.edu/moveout or by calling 610-758-6674 or emailing inmove@lehigh.edu. To read more about the Move Out Sale, please read this news article by Lehigh Communications writer, Bill Doherty (2010).

Remember that great family feeling we had at the Lehigh MOOV-in last August? This is another way to know you’re doing good in the world.

2013 Music Department Awards

945206_10100538195917956_1538753670_nOn Monday, April 29th at 4pm, the 2013 Annual Music Department Awards were announced. In a future blog post, we will share the story behind many of the names of these awards. For today – let’s celebrate the achievement and recognition of the many talented Lehigh University students.

Freshman Award – Lauren Mentzer
Sophomore Award – DeVaughn Roberts
Junior Award – Kim Hetrick
Senior Award – Geoff Groman


Henderson Braddick Composition Awards

  • Bryan Lun
  • Geoff Groman
  • Lumin Hao
  • Chris Covney
  • Liz Zeffiro
  • Andrey Stolynarov

Ensemble Awards

Jazz and Combos

  • Brian Lin
  • Chris Covney
  • Dan Canistracci

LU Philharmonic

  • Service – Geoff Groman
  • Musicianship -Taylor Bond and Meghan Brisson

Band and Wind Ensemble:

  • Schempf Award – Joshua Hubert
  • Elkus Award – Lauren Mentzer and Sheila Strong
  • Gold-Hansen Award – Andrew Pope
  • Senior Band Award – Alexis Lundy
  • Burr-Kirkpatrick Award – Anne Smolko and Hannah Hoganson
  • Shields Award – Goeffrey Groman

Choral Arts

  • Debra Field Dolce Award – Amanda Curry
  • Michael “Bear” Sebastian Award – Connor Tench and Damiano DiFlorio
  • Cutler Award – Emily Koehler
  • T. Edgar Shields Award – Brian Rodriquez
  • Stoz-Rickert Award – Hilary Hla

Memorial Awards

Melissa Rodriguez Award (to a wind player) – Anne Smolko and Geoff Groman
Kenton Lerch Award (for participation in Band and other ensembles) – Erin Barrick
Robert Thompson Award (For Joyous music Making) – Bryan Lin


National Endowment for the Arts Grants in Bethlehem, PA

imagesThe National Endowment for the Arts just announced their 2013 Spring Grant Awards. The number of grants for the commonwealth of PA: 30 with a total dollar amount of: $975,000. Of that, $75,000 of federal tax dollars are coming to Bethlehem next year to support our vibrant arts scene.

Citizens should know that these dollars are pennies per capita spending. They are HUGE investments in our youth. Each grant supports the work of notable arts organizations who provide arts education programming in a time when schools are cutting arts and music programs and teachers to balance state budgets. Activities that support arts IN the schools for each organization are highlighted below. However, these grants don’t cover the total budget needed to make this activities happen. The NEA grant requires a $1-$1 match for each proposal. The match usually comes from corporate sponsorship, or organizational revenue (like ticket sales). And that still doesn’t cover all the expenses. That’s why we all should support the arts and cultural organizations that keep our community spirit alive.

The NEA grant is not a gift. It’s an investment in our community. If we like our community to have a high quality of life, support the creative development of our future work force, and be that part of economic development, then celebrate the hard work it took the grant writers who achieved this success. Winning an NEA grant is not easy. Judgement by artistic and arts administrative peers is fierce. These organizations got the support because they meet a national standard of excellence.

Happy Tuesday, indeed.

ArtsQuest $50,000 
To support RiverJazz. The year-long celebration will feature activities such as jazz concerts, a high school jazz band competition, documentary screenings, visual art gallery exhibits, a site-specific dance piece, workshops, lectures, and a month-long jazz festival.

Bach Choir of Bethlehem $15,000 Bethlehem, PA
To support educational programs for adults, children, and intergenerational groups including the commissioning and premiere of a new children’s opera. The project will include Bach to School assembly programs for elementary through high school students, Family Concerts incorporating student and professional guest artists and featuring the new work by composer Chuck Holdeman titled Young Meister Bach, and the free Bach at Noon concert series of Bach cantatas.

Touchstone  Theatre $10,000 
To support the Young Playwrights’ Lab, an after-school theater arts program. Professional theater artists guide students at schools in the Bethlehem and Allentown School Districts of Pennsylvania through the process of creating an original, one-act play.