We know about the accomplishments: Serving as Dean of Cal State LA’s College of Arts & Letters, boosting student enrollment by 20%. Facilitating their new $7m TV, Film, and Media Center. Co-editor of eleven books. Over 300 citations by other researchers of his published work.*

Who can make time for life as an artist? Our new Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Peter McAllister, makes time, because he really is a rock star — in classical music. McAllister has professional recordings on Fanfare Records and Carleton Record labels (based in England). A review by the Washington Post called him “gifted.”

In person, McAllister exudes the calm confidence of a classical and jazz musician, a person more than qualified to lead the division of Academic Affairs. Yet behind the serious wire-framed glasses, his eyes sparkle, and he comes alive when describing the connections between his life as a performing artist and his passion for the students and faculty at Ringling College.

“Artists, no matter their discipline, are driven to use process to create new meaning, new works, new worlds of expression,” he muses. “Thousands of hours are spent practicing for the performance moment, much like a visual artist or designer spends thousands of hours drawing, sketching, rendering — all acts of creating, in fact — and preparing for the final work to be presented in a gallery, viewed on a screen, or experienced.”

McAllister sees Ringling College students as “junior professionals, or pre-professionals,” learning to make informed decisions, learning to connect the educational process and the creative process as one and the same. “Our students,” McAllister observes, “see our faculty as true practicing professionals in their chosen field or discipline — fully committed as a creative and innovator. Growing up as a professional musician makes me appreciate what our faculty and students are doing every day. Our faculty is highly revered and highly accomplished. The students are apprenticing here, and Ringling College provides them with technology-rich world-class learning and teaching, plus an active campus lifestyle provided by Student Life.”

Dr. Larry R. Thompson, Ringling College President is enthusiastic about McAllister’s addition to the community. “In only six months, he has already hit the ground running, with the kind of energy and collaborative spirit we saw in him as a candidate. Peter is a thoughtful and enthusiastic leader who has quickly garnered the support of the Board of Trustees, the Senior Officers, the Department Heads, and the faculty overall.”

McAllister is committed to supporting the talented students and faculty at the College. He describes himself as “faculty-driven and student-oriented, an agent for change. Our faculty members have a powerful drive to succeed and a passion to share their talent, skills, and insights with students.” Asked about some of the twenty-first century artist’s challenges, McAllister comments on the common fallacy of the “overnight success.” Artists who seemingly achieve overnight success have, in fact, been practicing for years and years. “Social media loves to celebrate sensational rises and discoveries. But today’s student is more aware of the influences, more aware of what to watch out for,” he notes. “They know what they need to do in order to achieve long-term success.”

McAllister has been impressed by Ringling College students’ dedication, a strong indicator of future success. “I’ve been around dedicated people my entire life, but the dedication here is extreme: an “ all in” commitment by faculty to care for and teach students at an incredible level of intensity. It’s remarkable across all disciplines; the passion for teaching by the faculty member in Liberal Arts is just as intense as the passion for teaching by the faculty member in Animation,” he says with pride. In an environment where dedication routinely produces rock star results, McAllister’s contributions, both present and future, position him perfectly for success.

*According to scholar.google.com

By Nicole Caron | Photo by Elan Photography
Nicole Caron’s work has appeared in numerous regional and trade publications. She coordinates the First-Year Writing & ESL Program at Ringling College