School of Arts, Media & Communication

Published: May 01, 2013

School of Arts, Media & Communication

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -For more than a decade, University leaders have been working to emphasize the importance of the arts. Today, the School of Arts, Media & Communication (SAMC) at the Island University is proving to be the cultural heartbeat of the Coastal Bend.

Dr. Kelly Quintanilla, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Director of SAMC, has transitioned the school from dream to reality, working one-on-one with dedicated faculty and staff, and University President Flavius Killebrew.

“Many individuals have stepped forward to help create this school, which will provide greater opportunities for collaboration and synergy and allow us to become a more powerful influence on the arts and communication in the Coastal Bend,” says Dr. Quintanilla. “We’re excited to offer so many unique aspects of the arts to our community.”

Around campus, song-and-dance student flash mobs pleasantly surprise bystanders. Throughout the year, the University welcomes the public to experience iron pours, printmaking demonstrations, student-directed one-act plays, and an array of other free attractions. And, area singers of all ages are encouraged to participate in the University-sponsored Corpus Christi Idol competition.

Provost Christopher Markwood says he knows firsthand the cultural and economic value that the new School of Arts, Media & Communication (SAMC) can bring to the Island University and the surrounding Coastal Bend community.

Markwood says that the exponential growth in the number of students pursuing SAMC-related degrees will boost the potential for the city and community.   

“There will be numerous opportunities for Corpus Christi to grow into a cultural hub that will initiate and attract all aspects of creative activity and cultural enrichment,” says Markwood, who was the Inaugural Dean of the College of Arts, Media & Design at the University of Central Oklahoma. “One of the things major companies look for in potential metropolitan locations is a vibrant arts community.” 

The formation of SAMC, which is part of the College of Liberal Arts, was announced last October as a way to support growing programs that have nearly doubled in majors since 2002. The purpose is to develop and promote collaboration, innovation, and creation among students and faculty in visual arts, music, theatre, dance, media, and communication. 

 “As we move into the digital age of the 21st century, students must have the ability to think creatively,” says Markwood. “Our students will be highly competitive in the marketplace not just because they will be experts in their crafts, but because of their innovation in creativity, critical thinking, and communication skills.”

The cultural impact of the new school has been noted around the Coastal Bend through a variety of community events. The Island University is promoting arts education through youth summer camps, plays, dance festivals, concerts, art exhibits, and film festivals. Students also participate in service-learning projects that benefit local non-profits.

“There’s something for everyone,” says Quintanilla. “The new school will offer cultural enrichment and collaborative opportunities to all University students and members of the South Texas community. Students will also engage in experiential learning, develop key leadership, teamwork, and organizational skills, and apply 21st century technology in service of expressing and understanding human experience.”

All disciplines will focus on collaboration and application of skills and knowledge, which will result in students developing highly marketable skills as they serve their community through an array of engaging projects.

“To meet demands in these fields, we recently developed a new media program, and we’re expanding graphic design, and finalizing a minor in digital journalism,” Quintanilla says.  “These programs are taught by our award-winning faculty, many of whom have been recognized for their scholarly and creative activity.”

Program Highlights:  

  • The Art program has added an MA/MFA program with 62 percent of the graduate students pursuing a terminal degree. 
  • The Communication program developed a Public Relations minor, one of the largest minors on campus. In 2009, a Master of Arts in Communication was added.
  • The Theatre program has expanded six-fold in majors. Also a certificate program in Dance has been added.
  • The Music program has developed a new program in Music Industry.

This story is one of several featured in our Spring 2013 edition of The Islander magazine.

You can read more great stories in our latest edition of The Islander online at