“Tell me, what’s new at Ringling College?”

As the proud president of our rapidly growing institution, I get this question a lot. I usually have to warn my curious company to settle in. Because the answer, my friends, is not a short one.

How could I possibly describe briefly the momentous and tangible energy that is propelling Ringling College of Art and Design into the creative stratosphere? Impossible.

For starters, you’ve probably caught wind of our newest major, Virtual Reality Development—the first BFA in the realm of VR. Yes, we are the first to offer a four-year undergraduate degree program to educate creatives to design content for virtual reality experiences. And the curriculum goes well beyond gaming. It encompasses industries such as advertising, architecture, healthcare, education, and more.

You may have also read about the world-renowned visiting artists coming to Ringling College. Just this year, Hollywood celebrities like Kevin Smith, Woody Harrelson, John Lithgow, and Anna Paquin came to campus. We also host some of the most established creatives in their fields, such as Jeffrey Henson Scales, the photo editor for The New York Times, and Will Cotton, the world-renowned American painter. Professional artists and designers of this caliber serve two purposes: they inspire our students and they become mentors, teachers, connections, and even colleagues for our students and graduates.

Perhaps you’ve heard about all of the new buildings on campus. It seems when we’re not announcing a new facility, we’re busy completing one or celebrating an award for one. In 2017, we opened the Alfred R. Goldstein Library—a facility that graced the cover of American Libraries and seized a coveted spot in its Annual Design Showcase, in addition to winning a gold medal in the 2017 SRQ Building of the Year Competition.

In December, we celebrated the opening of the stunning Richard & Barbara Basch Visual Arts Center and, within that facility, the newest campus exhibition space, the Lois & David Stulberg Gallery. You will learn more about both of these in this compelling issue.

We are in the process of completing the work on The Ringling College Studio Labs, our 30,000 sq. ft. soundstage and post production facility, the new home to Ringling College Film and a space for industry professionals to fully utilize. To date, we have hosted so many industry mavens, such as Ethan Hawke, Dylan McDermott, Kevin Smith, John Lithgow, and Woody Harrelson in the new facility. We look forward to announcing our lineup of artists for next year.

But, and you’ve heard me say it before—it’s not about the buildings. It’s about what happens inside them that really matters.

Our rapid campus expansion is simply a reflection of our internal growth. Our enrollment is at record numbers this year with 1460 students. And, in order to accommodate this increased enrollment, we are right now building another new residence hall that will open in time for Fall semester, 2018.

Further, our students and graduates are bringing in an increasing number of ever-more prestigious awards. These include, for example, our 13th Student Academy Award, first place at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) College Game Competition, D&AD New Blood Pencils, and countless ADDYs. Our esteemed faculty is also getting noticed. Brad Battersby, the head of the Film department, was named the 2017 Mentor of the Year by VARIETY magazine.

In addition to the buildings and new majors, we are excitedly welcoming new faces to the community, including Dr. Peter McAllister, the new Vice President for Academic Affairs and Joe Fig, department head for Fine Arts and Visual Studies, both of whom you will read about in this issue.

So, can you see what I mean? I could literally write an entire book about all that’s happening at Ringling College. Lucky for you, you’ve essentially got one in front of you. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Very truly yours,
Dr. Larry R. Thompson