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Please Be Our Guest

Story by
Nancy Joseph

Imagine spending an hour chatting with television star Patrick Duffy about the life of an actor. Or taking a violin lesson from Pinchus Zuckerman. Or discussing world politics with former Secretary of State Warren Christopher as he headed to the first APEC Conference. In the past few years, Arts and Sciences students have had all of these opportunities.

"The College tries to bring visitors to campus whenever possible," says Arts and Sciences Dean John Simpson. "They can play an extremely valuable role. Sharing their real world experience, they have an extraordinary ability to inspire students and faculty. They can really energize a department."

 

Witness to a Rapidly Changing Europe

Peter Hobbing, a principal administrator at the Commission of the European Union (EU)in Brussels, spent the past year as a European Union Fellow in the UW's Jackson School of International Studies. He shared his insights with faculty and students by teaching two courses, serving as a guest speaker in other classes, and organizing two conferences.

European Union Fellow Peter Hobbing chats with an undergraduate.

European Union Fellow Peter Hobbing chats with an undergraduate. Media credit: Kathy Sauber

"It's been such a dynamic time for the European Union," says John Keeler, director of the Center for West European Studies, which coordinated Hobbing's visit. "With the fall of the Berlin wall and the European Union's expansion, it's been a perfect time to have a European Union Fellow on campus."

Even more perfect has been the cost: zero. The European Union covers all expenses for its fellows, with the UW providing an office and administrative support. "It's an incredible deal for the University," says Keeler. Six to ten European Union fellows are placed in American universities each year; the UW has been selected three of the past five years.

At the University, EU Fellows teach two courses. "They provide a crucial complement to our faculty," explains Keeler. "While faculty focus on the theoretical aspects of the European Union, the Fellows bring the nuts-and-bolts practitioner's perspective. They lend an immediacy to it."

Clearly students are responding. This year UW graduate students won both of the nationalFulbright awards set aside for EU studies, and last year UW students won two of the three predissertation fellowships for EU studies from the Council for European Studies. "This excellent record is no coincidence," says Keeler.

 

Bringing the World to Our Students 

Ethnomusicology students are equally inspired by visitors to the School of Music. Since the early 1960s, the School's Ethnomusicology Program has funded at least two visiting artists each year. They stay for nine months or more, offering lessons and performing. Most play instruments unfamiliar to mainstream America.

Eva Ybarra, Visiting Artist in Ethnomusicology.

Eva Ybarra, Visiting Artist in Ethnomusicology.

"The Visiting Artist Program in Ethnomusicology is unique," says Robin McCabe, director of the School of Music. "I know of no other program like it in the United States. The presence of these artists among us makes for vibrant and enriching musical and cultural transmission."

The program also helps round out Ethnomusicology's offerings. "We have three faculty in ethnomusicology," says Shannon Dudley, assistant professor of ethnomusicology. "We cannot possibly cover all the musical traditions of the world in depth. It's even more unrealistic to expect us to perform all music of the world. This program keeps us plugged into other performance traditions. It brings a little bit of the world to our students."

This year, students had the opportunity to study with Korean musician Moon-jin Choi, who plays a stringed instrument called a kayagum, and Conjunto accordionist Eva Ybarra. Other recent visitors have included a panpipe musician from Peru, a valiha player from Madagascar, and a pin peat performer from Cambodia.

"Some students will take lessons from both artists over the course of the year," says Dudley, "but more often they will stick with one because they are more interested in that musical tradition. There are always a few students who get to know the visiting artists well. It's one of the incalculable and unquantifiable benefits of having the visiting artists here."

These visits mean a great deal to students. And that is, after all, what it's all about.

Ethnomusicology faculty and students are now eagerly anticipating the arrival of next year's visiting artists--a steel band musician from Trinidad and a guitarist and drummer from Ghana--who will begin their stay in September. "Having these artists on campus is stimulating for everyone," says Dudley. "I think it's one of the things that students value most about our ethnomusicology program. In the increasingly competitive environment for graduate students, we see it as a real asset."

 

Veteran Actors Return to Their Roots 

When it comes to assets, the School of Drama has an obvious one: its alumni. A slew of successful theatre, film, and television actors have emerged from the School, and some are now returning to campus to share their experience with current students.

Actor and UW alumnus Patrick Duffy (center) spent two days on campus in March working with drama students.

Actor and UW alumnus Patrick Duffy (center) spent two days on campus in March working with drama students. Media credit: Mary Levin

Pamela Reed, an Obie and Cable ACE award winner, spent several days working with students both this year and last. Hugh O'Gorman, who stars on Remember WENN on the AMC television network, made a recent visit; so did Michael Christensen, co-founder of the Big Apple Circus® and founder of its Clown Care Unit®. Television actor Patrick Duffy also took time out of his busy schedule to spend two days working with UW acting students.

How did the School convince these actors to return? "We just asked," saysSarah Nash Gates, director of the School of Drama. "And we let them know that they are appreciated. Most of them remember how important visiting actors were when they were students here, and they welcome the opportunity to return the favor."

The School keeps the veteran actors busy during their visits. Duffy, whose television credits include Dallas and Step by Step, met with graduate students and advanced undergraduates and spoke at the all-School colloquium. "Needless to say, the turnout was excellent," says Gates.

Duffy shared insights gained from more than 25 years in the business. Students were spellbound. "As an active actor in the television profession, he brings the voice of authority and experience," says Gates. "He also is a very warm and down-to-earth person. The students really responded to that with trust and gratitude."

Will Duffy visit again next year? That's almost a certainty since his son is now a Husky, with an interest in drama. "We're thrilled that this has worked out so well," says Gates. "These visits mean a great deal to students. And that is, after all, what it's all about."