More than 350 students, staff and members of the community gathered Wednesday at UT Dallas to honor two construction workers killed in a July 7 crane collapse on campus.
Student leaders organized the Moment of Reflection as a way for the campus community to express its support and condolences to the families of Terry Weaver, of Grand Saline, and Thomas Fairbrother Jr., of Austin. The men were killed while attempting to dismantle a crane that was used to build the frame of the new Arts and Technology building.
Dr. Thomas Linehan, director of the Arts and Technology program, described the University community’s shock and dismay over the construction workers’ deaths.
“None of us could have imagined when we were breaking ground for this wonderful project a few months ago that we would have a day like today,” Dr. Linehan said. “Our community is filled with sadness at the loss of life on a building project that is designed to fill us all with hope.”
Student Government President Raj Dwivedi led the crowd in a moment of silence. Afterward, attendees lined up to sign condolence books for each of the families.
“UT Dallas has a vibrant student community and spirit,” Dwivedi said. “We celebrate together, and we grieve together.”
Abraham Montoya, a junior majoring in criminology, heard about the campus reflection through students’ Facebook posts.
“We may not have known who these men were, but we appreciate that they worked on the ATEC building and wanted to reach out to their families,” Montoya said. “I felt obliged to come.”
UT Dallas students have also established a benefit and memorial fund for the families of the two men. The University has built a contribution page online.
As dean, Kratz has developed an interdisciplinary curriculum that fosters collaboration at the intersection of arts and humanities, science and engineering.
“There is a statistical correlation between Nobel Prize winners and art,” Kratz said. “It enables them to see from a different viewpoint.”
“There is a statistical correlation between Nobel Prize winners and art,” said Dean Dennis Kratz.
Kratz’s viewpoint, a broadminded administration, and a creative faculty eager to transform the traditions of a typical liberal arts program, have redefined how the arts and humanities are viewed and taught at UT Dallas.
“This isn’t about putting art in a science-based university. It’s about reconstructing the way we educate people to bring science, art and humanities together,” Kratz said.
“We want to suffuse everything.”
Kratz’s manifest destiny—geographically and cognitively—is recognized by way of the Arts and Technology Program, Texas’s first degree that combines computer science and engineering with arts and humanities.
“It’s right on the center of campus. This is prominent real estate. This tells you about the University’s own priorities.” said Dr. Richard Brettell, the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies.
The 155,000-square-foot, $60 million project is scheduled for its ribbon cutting in 2013. It will provide 2,150 new classroom seats and 50 offices, as well as a lecture hall that will seat 1,200. The building was designed by Studios Architecture, the same firm that designed the Googleplex, Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
Student Perspectives Broaden
“Humanities students often have no understanding why the Internet is fundamentally different from other forms of communication. The computer science students get it. But the humanities students understand the critical issues and why it matters on a cultural level. When you get them together it’s more productive,” said Dr. David Parry, assistant professor of ATEC and emerging media and communication
Parry believes there is an absolute necessity to be digitally literate. “In the future, the people who have power—power in a good way, power over their own lives—will be digitally literate,” he said. “There will be people who understand how to make, use, manipulate, critique and engage with social media in all its forms and there will be people who will just consume.” Parry sees his job as moving the consumers into the group of producers.
Recent Hires Show Emphasis
Dr. Roger Malina is a physicist, astronomer and executive editor of the Leonardo publications at MIT Press. With dual appointments as a distinguished professor of arts and technology in the School of Arts and Humanities and a professor of physics in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, he focuses on connections among the natural sciences and arts, design and the humanities.
“In my career, I’ve had the scientific strand and the art and technology strand. This is an opportunity to combine both,” Malina said. “There are not many places in the U.S. or internationally that are doing what we’re trying to accomplish here—merge arts and humanities with science and engineering at a deep level and with the resources to support it.”
UT Dallas Magazine includes the full version of “Reinventing the Arts.” The magazine is available for viewing online.