Fayetteville State University (FSU) has a vision of expanding its campus environment to encompass downtown Fayetteville. At a recent gathering of the Downtown Alliance, a group consisting of business owners, residents, and interested parties, Chancellor James Anderson of FSU shared his perspective on what it will take to bring this to fruition. Interestingly, a recent tour of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) pointed out how this institution commands a presence in the historic downtown of Savannah and its surrounding area.
The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) takes its partnership with the city of Savannah seriously. Offering more than 40 majors, along with four degrees (B.A., B.F.A., M.A., M.F.A.), SCAD is truly a part of this thriving seaport community, the oldest city in Georgia.
Established in 1978 (the same year Stephen King published The Stand and Night Shifts), SCAD’s founders envisioned an institution that nurtured and honed the creativity of students. The Stephen King reference is for all the fans of the current made-for-TV movie, The Dome. As SCAD works to fulfill that vision, it integrates much of the student learning throughout the community.
SCAD does not have a typical campus; its buildings are in just about every neighborhood in Savannah. For students requiring a traditional campus, SCAD is not for you. Using existing structures, SCAD repurposed many historical buildings to fashion an interesting college experience. Going on a tour of the school? Visitors meet at the former Savannah Volunteer Guard Armory, now Poetter Hall, which houses the Admissions Office and shopSCAD, the local boutique where SCAD affiliated artists can sell their creations.
If Fashion Design interests you, be sure to visit Eckberg Hall, a former elementary school. A mixture of classrooms and studio space, students create the fashions of tomorrow while learning marketing skills and acquiring the knowledge to enter multiple career pathways in the fashion world. Directly across the street from Eckberg is the Streamliner, one of two diners that originated in New England and is now a dining option for students.
Known for its animation program, SCAD students take their primary classes in a former carriage house, Montgomery Hall. On a recent visit, one student (see photo) worked diligently to complete an assignment for a 2D animation project (did you know it takes 12 drawings to create 1 second of film?). Montgomery, open 24 hours, has floors made from recycled tires to cut down on the static from the numerous computers in the building.
Other examples of utilizing existing structures to benefit the students and the community of Savannah are:
• Jen Library – former department store
• Student Center – former synagogue and Episcopal church
• Oglethorpe House – former motor inn
• Trustees Theater – former Weiss Theater
This is a sampling of SCAD branching out into the local community in Savannah. Looking around Fayetteville and the downtown area, there appear to be many opportunities for Fayetteville State to have a stronger presence to serve their students and the citizens of Fayetteville. One suggestion is that that FSU be more visible at Fourth Fridays, a time when retailers, street performers, the Arts Council, and the Headquarters library strive to provide entertainment, cultural activities, and family fun on a monthly basis downtown.
People of Fayetteville, share your thoughts on your vision of collaboration between Fayetteville State and the downtown area. What would that look like to you? What would you like to see?