Actors sing on stage at Western.

Celebrating excellence:

50 years of the College of Fine Arts

University News

  • Elizabeth "E.J." Taylor makes a heart with her hands in front of her face.

    Supported by the $550 million Empowering Futures Gift, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Housing and Residence Life and Merze Tate College have collaborated to develop the Empowering Futures Living Learning Community, which will provide a space for recipients of the Empowering Futures Housing Scholarship to find belonging, explore their personal and academic interests, and engage with campus programs and resources.

Empowering Futures next steps: Enhancing student support

Initiatives slated for 2022-23:

  • The Navigator Program will provide guidance and assistance for students through their college experience for everything from finding academic help to connecting with counseling support. Navigators are open to all but focus on Broncos who are first-generation students, Pell Grant-eligible or from marginalized communities.

  • WMU Paid Internship Program will provide support for undergraduates from the second year onward with the chance to complete professional work with local organizations paired with paid, resume-worthy experiences.

  • Health and well-being programs will focus on students as whole people with physical, mental and emotional health needs and include personalized approaches to meet individual needs among the eight dimensions of well-being.

Dear friends and colleagues,

Like many of you, my first exposure to the arts and music came through my parents. While we would periodically visit museums or exhibits, my most vivid memories took place during family car trips. I’d share the back seat with my brother and stare out the window as my father tuned our AM/FM radio to the local public radio station’s classical music, opera and jazz programs. The genius of Beethoven, Puccini, Satchmo, Stan Getz and so many others filled the airwaves, built memories that remain strong to this day and contributed to my love of jazz and appreciation for the remarkable skills of opera singers and other highly trained musicians.

Arriving at Western, I was greatly impressed by the breadth and depth of talent I found across the College of Fine Arts. In every discipline and at every level, I saw that faculty, staff and students brought a passion and talent to their work that is truly inspiring. Every performance, every exhibit, every installation is a testament to an ongoing high degree of excellence and passion for their craft.

This is no surprise given that the college has been educating performers, creators, designers and innovators since it was established as the first fine arts school at a Michigan public college or university 50 years ago.

That excellence is also reflected in the incredible professional success of our alumni. They represent our University in numerous performing and fine arts arenas. This not only demonstrates the quality of students we attract, but it also denotes the ability of our faculty to provide them with the education and guidance they need to succeed in very demanding, very challenging but also immensely fulfilling fields.

That’s what actress Brooke Elliott found here as a theatre major. Now a star on the hit Netflix series “Sweet Magnolias,” Elliott credits Western and Professor Emeritus Lyda Stillwell for giving her the guidance, support and opportunity to hone her craft.

It’s also at the heart of what we strive to provide for all Western students—the chance to pursue an education that builds their unique set of skills, fuels their imaginations and sets them on a course toward whatever future that they envision for themselves. 

Whether that future includes the arts as a vocation or an avocation, we want our students to explore all of their interests while they are on our campus and nurture the activities that bring them joy for the rest of their lives—like listening to great jazz on a road trip, viewing a musical dance performance or touring a gallery.

I share my applause with the alumni, friends and patrons of the College of Fine Arts in celebrating its 50th anniversary of educating exceptional artists, musicians, dancers, singers and leaders.


Edward Montgomery, Ph.D.



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