Adaptability, problem-solving, critical thinking, initiative, cooperation, communication, along with skills in a given discipline, are qualities that artists need to find success in their chosen fields. They are also qualities that companies cite in hiring graduates for industries that are constantly evolving. As employers note the lack of critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills in recent graduates, these are the very skills developed through the College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point (UWSP).
“The liberal arts approach, with varied course offerings and content that extends beyond the classroom, creates a well-rounded student who is ready to excel in any field,” says Steven Heller, a Class of 2007 Communication — Media Studies graduate.
For more than 50 years, the College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) has prepared students not only for lives of creative expression, but also for diverse professions and leadership positions that enrich the vibrancy of their communities. COFAC programmes value curiosity, discovery, innovation, and collaboration, emphasising dynamic, hands-on learning through which both faculty and students can inspire, create, and achieve.
Today, UWSP’s COFAC is central to the region’s creative community and its high-quality offerings in the visual and performing arts draw thousands of audience members to campus each year. Faculty and staff are active off-campus throughout the area as visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, performers, consultants, and volunteers. COFAC’s reach is not only local, however; thousands of their alumni around the world — from Broadway to Fortune 500 companies — inspire others to reach their own potential.
“Opportunities for international students at UWSP are plenty. I have been greatly inspired by the excellent faculty, amazing performances, caring community, and the exceptional facilities at the Noel Fine Arts Centre. Everything you need to succeed is provided here,” says Yifan Ning, a Class of 2020 Music/Data Analytics graduate from Baotou, Inner Mongolia, China.
Nestled in a safe and welcoming small town, UWSP achieves more than you might expect. The university ranks among the nation’s top 7% with its national accreditation in all four arts fields: Art and Design (NSAD and CIDA), Dance (NASD), Music (NASM), and Theatre (NAST). Recognition aside, its high impact learning experiences speak volumes as well.
“At UWSP I am building a solid foundation in acting, vocal, and dance techniques with high quality instruction in small classes—the artistic tools I need to grow and succeed. Additionally, the faculty are guiding me towards finding my own voice and a personal artistic point of view that shapes the types of stories I want to tell and share with the world,”says Júlia Garcia, a Class of 2022 BFA Musical Theatre/Dance Minor graduate from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
From the moment they arrive at UWSP, students have remarkable opportunities to delve deeply into the kinds of thought-provoking art, riveting performances, and critical media that help us understand ourselves and the world around us. Bustling creative laboratories like the radio station, campus newspaper, theatre spaces, music hall, art gallery, and television studio define the COFAC experience. With guidance and mentorship each step of the way, each student can find a pathway to excel.
“The hallmark of UWSP is its student organisations. There are very few universities in the country that give its students more opportunity to get practical hands-on experience than UWSP,” shares Tim Blotz, a Class of 1985 Communication/Political Science graduate.
The School of Design and Communication covers the areas of art, art history, graphic design, interior architecture, media studies, and professional communication. Careers in visual arts, design, and communication are evolving as technologies, audiences, and delivery systems change. Each course is delivered by dedicated faculty members to ensure students are prepared for today’s jobs and tomorrow’s. Students involved in fine arts and communication do not study a single subject; they immerse themselves in the world, through their own experiences and through seeing, hearing, and feeling the work of other artists, journalists and communication professionals.
Meanwhile, the School of Performing Arts guides students through the topics of music (music education, performance, and jazz studies); theatre (acting, drama, musical theatre, theatre design and technology); dance, and arts management. The School of Performing Arts responds to a more interconnected world by uncovering opportunities for partnership, collaboration, and interdisciplinary instruction. Faculty build on best practices to foster skills at the heart of a successful career in the arts, but that are also (as shown through the success of alumni) deeply valued across industries and professions. The School is large enough to offer a variety of experiences and challenges, and small enough that students receive the individual attention they need. The curriculum is innovative and emphasises creativity.
“UWSP has taught me to be a global citizen. The dance programme has taught me how everything is relevant and you can take away great information from your classes that can help enrich your education,” says Alyssa Berube, a Class of 2015 Arts Management/Dance graduate.
With an eye toward preparing students for careers not yet imagined, COFAC nurtures each student’s ability to draw from many fields, to take risks, and to make conscious choices as both creators and consumers. Its programmes shape the emerging artists, entrepreneurs, storytellers, designers, teachers, and visionaries who go on to spark creativity and transform communities.