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Fain dean discusses connecting creativity through updates, renovations

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dean plays piano

Izziel Latour
Mexican tenor Edgar Villalva and Midwestern State University Fine Arts Dean and pianist Martin Camacho practice for a performance in Akin auditorium.

From flying to New York a new piano for Akin Auditorium and others for the music department to helping raise funds for the new mass communication building that debuted in Fall 2017, Martin Camacho finishes his fourth year as dean of Fain Fine Arts college with his determination to continue to improve the environment for students and alumni.

Compared to other universities where deans are in positions as political role, Camacho said he views the roles as dean at Midwestern as “champion for the faculty, the staff and the students of fine arts.”

“I’m just bringing ideas together to make sure understand how we can do things better. “I seldom come up with great ideas and the reason why is because one thing I have learned as an administrator is that it’s not that I’m short on ideas, I have lots of them, but that’s one person’s ideas. It’s great when you start realizing when you gather everybody’s, or as many ideas that you can, you’re going to come up with better ideas than you had originally started with.”

Bringing together those ideas and the aspirations of the fine arts team has led to the many additions added to the college while Camacho has been dean.

“Midwestern offers a place were we can come up with many ideas and in many cases execute them,” Camacho said. “That is a great thing because your diploma is only as good as your institution is doing well at  any point in the history. We will keep the quality of the program as high as we possibly can because that will make your degree more relevant because it will continue to show the quality that we try to improve every day.”

With such accomplishments and additions made for the Fain Fine Arts college, Camacho said alumni can continue to feel pride and excitement for their alma mater and the students following the same path.

“When you look back and realize that your alma mater is doing better, it only adds value to the degree you hold from that institution,” Camacho said. “We continue to try and deliver on the promises we gave to you [alumni] that we are making to the students. That connection is only made strong because alumni realize that we keep trying. This is still your home, and you are still welcomed here”

For Camacho, he sees the entire college as extensions of the same driving force in which all of the departments are in the communication business. He said while each have an entertaining value, they are nothing else but an exchange of hopes and struggles of humankind. When you look at art, the artist is trying to communicate something, so

“It’s just a fantastic combination of disciplines who all of them are doing all of this using different tools, Camacho said. “But all of the methods and messages of the story is the same: is to challenge you as a person to communicate social problems and triumphs anywhere from beauty to small concerns.”

Mass Communication

In fall 2017, the mass communication department debuted the $7 million building for students, faculty and the public.

According to Camacho, broadcast and journalism students are surrounded by top-of-the-line equipment better than local media companies have.

“It is a project that has been an idea for 30 years, but to see it come to fruition was a huge accomplishment for the department, the college as a whole and the university by extension,” Camacho said. “I’m delighted to see that you guys are working at state-of-the-art facilities for a college of our size. For an institution of our size, it is very well situated and equipped.”

After visiting other Texas universities with mass communication departments, Camacho said he thinks the mass communication students are in a competitive facility for their field.

“There’s been people come in from the industries in Wichita Falls, the TV stations and the news paper, and they have told us that we have things even in the local business that they do not have,” Camacho said. “It makes us very proud.”

Throughout his time as dean, Camacho said he has been a vocal advocate for the mass communication building and because of the community assurance and excitement, there has been a positive reaction to the building over all.

“We had to convince all of the departments that this was a win for everyone, not just mass communication,” Camacho said. “There were so many moving parts and wills we had to convince to buy into this project.”

To convince so many people to look at the scope of other disciplines fine arts, Camacho said this helped bring together the college as a whole.

“We, in the fine arts, have so much in common. We are so closely connected,” he said. “In the bigger scope of things I view the departments of fine arts as being in the same business of communication. Of changing ideas and bettering the world, of creating a critically thinking society.”

Music

When Camacho first came Midwestern, he said he made an assessment of the necessities for the fine arts college. With his extensive music background, Camacho said he wanted to help offer students the best opportunities for their success.

“There were a few areas that were immediately concerning that needed attention,” Camacho said. “We had had to solve these problems for the vibrancy of the programs to grow. Within this, we needed to talk about the facilities and this is an area where I believe we have made the most strides.”

When he arrived on campus, Akin Auditorium was the only area available for music students to perform senior and junior recitals. According to Camacho, students would bring a large number of audience members of around 100 people. However, because Akin is a 500 seat auditorium, attendance seemed slim and discouraged students. Now, with the addition of the Burns Chapel, students are able to have a more intimate environment to perform in.

“We were fortunate to lobby the support from administration and particularly President [Suzanne] Shipley to buy into the idea of having us build a second recital hall for the music department which is right across the street,” Camacho said. “We wanted a space that was more intimate for smaller crowds for the things that students would feel at ease because it’s not as intimidating of a space. It’s a more intimate thing, you can look at the people and feel more at home.”

After a private $1 million donation from community members, Camacho was able to help coordinate the new construction for the music department for nine new practice rooms with sound-proofing plans and new pianos which Camacho he said he is very proud of the proper facilities to provide students.

“To have these rooms for students is huge,” Camacho said. “They are state of the art, acoustically shelled with brand new pianos in them. The rooms have never been sound-proofed, and a music area that is not soundproof is just not adequate, so that is an addition we are just about to start construction on.”

Art

After funds spent to properly install better ventilation for the ceramics department and implement projectors for the rooms, Camacho said he and the administration continues to work to better the building for overall well-being of students, faculty and staff.

“We are confident we are offering a very good program to the students,” Camacho said. “We recently added $100,000 in ventilation to the ceramics department which is huge. That goes to the core of the safety and health of our students and faculty and staff. That was important.”

In addition to the renovations, two new drawing rooms were added to the art department to provide a “more intimate space” for students to practice model drawing.

“We are confident we are offering a very good program to the students,” Camacho said. “We recently added $100,000 in ventilation to the ceramics department which is huge. That goes to the core of the safety and health of our students and faculty and staff. That was important.”

To help students achieve professional art portfolios, a conference room has been added to the art department which students and faculty are excited about.

“We completed the conference rooms in C109 that students and faculty use on a regular bases for meetings, presentations, junior and senior portfolio reviews,” Camacho said. “It’s a nice space to be at, and we continue to have plans for the art department.”

Theater

In the next coming semesters, a new lab will be added in the theater department because, according to Camacho, when the building was constructed, there wasn’t as great a need for laboratories as there are now.

Various additions have been constructed to the theater department, and Camacho said he is excited for the continued development of the program.

College

Over the spring semester, construction has continued to elevate the Fain building through plans of American Disabilities Act compliance. About $1.5 million has been spent for the renovation, and Camacho said over the summer they hope to complete the construction so students, faculty and staff can be a part of the inclusive environment.

“I’ve been fortunate to be on the coordination team to where we have accomplished much,” Camacho said. “The students continue to come here and pay their fees, faculty continue to teach and provide their ideas. It’s been a continuous contribution from everyone, but I haven’t accomplished anything, just trying to be a coordinator. It’s a team effort.”

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About the Writer
Cortney Wood, Managing Editor

Cortney Wood is the managing editor for The Wichitan. She is a mass communication sophomore with a minor in journalism. Cortney has been involved with...

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Fain dean discusses connecting creativity through updates, renovations