ultoday.com interviews Dean H. Gordon Brooks II, Dean of the College of the Arts at The University of Louisiana. Dean Brooks is an architect and videographer, and has led his College in key initiatives.

What is new in your college?

One of the things that is new in the College of Arts is the School of Music search for a new director. The faculty reached a consensus to perform an internal search, because they have a National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) accreditation visit coming up this Spring, and they just finished a self-study. Garth Alper has been the interim director for this, and the faculty recognized his many talents. So they know that there is at least one excellent internal candidate, and they want to stabilize for the NASM visit.

They also just hired Daniel Purttu, a highly qualified music theoretician this year. The faculty has decided that there are great benefits to having a person who can really develop the theory and composition program. Before, the UL Music School mainly hired instrumentalists with a sub-concentration in theory. Dan is the first we have had with composition and theory as his major focus. Since the foundation of a strong professional degree in music is music theory & composition, this is a major step forward. Dan is also a performer, on double reeds (oboe, English horn, bassoon, contrabassoon) but his forte is theory & composition. He's very well respected by the faculty.

The School of Architecture & Design just submitted a proposal to Department of Energy to participate in the Solar Decathlon. This is a competition to design, develop and build a small house as a demonstration house, completely off the power grid, deriving all its power form the Sun. It's a project that architecture and engineering schools are invited to participate in every other year. There are 20 teams selected from approximately 44 entries. We'll know in early January if UL has been accepted. The final product will be moved to National Mall in the Fall of 2009, on display to the public for several weeks. The last winners were just displayed, and received a great deal of national press, so it's very prestigious. Our hope is to do something that no one has ever done, build an affordable house, completely off the grid. This is crucial, because we live in a state that is prone to disasters, particularly hurricanes and this would add an advantage in a recovery situation. It would be especially important since after a disaster you often lose your income, so solar power would be one more cost saving measure.

We have our Eon Reality stereoscopic virtual reality system up and running. A new faculty member, Onezeime Broussard, taught an advanced visualization class in it last Fall; it was a highly successful course. Now we're working with LITE to make the migration of student designs over to LITE easier. The VR System is the latest generation, in HD 1080i format, which gives a very beautiful image with amazing clarity, similar to HD movie theatres in town.

Performing arts is rebuilding their cadre of faculty, with Nyalls Hartman as the new Department Head. They had a very successful Fall season with two very nice productions, The Laramie Project, and the annual State of LA Danse. They also collaborated with music on Nunsense. With music faculty Shawn Roy as director.

Finally, the University Art Museum hosted senior shows for our School of Architecture and Design and Visual Arts student work. These shows were some of the most successful we’re ever had.