New department chair hired

Starting in August, Lee Mann will be the new department chair of the art department and will also teach art classes.

“I would like to just bring leadership to the program,” Mann said. “I think they’ve had strong chairs in the past. I’d like to see more interest in enrollment.”

Mann said she will teach two-dimensional art classes. She is qualified to teach drawing, painting, color, visual language, art of education and art and design.

“I really enjoy teaching students individually,” Mann said. “Everyone can learn to draw, it’s just a matter of teaching people to see differently. People learn best when they enjoy what they’re doing. … I like to see students going in their own unique direction.”

Mann is coming from the four-corners area of the United States. She taught for nearly 25 years at the University of Kansas and said her friends tell her she “failed at retiring.” She is currently teaching at San Juan College in Farmington, N.M. Though she’s coming from the West, Mann is familiar with Baker University, having shown her own artwork in university gallery shows, including the Cone Box show.

“I love the feeling of the small university,” Mann said. “I love that sense of community on campus, and I think that is one of (Baker’s) strengths.”

Art Department Chair Inge Balch worked with Mann when Balch was a student at KU. Balch said she looks forward to working with her friend Mann and in turn, spending more time in the classroom.

“She’ll bring a smile to my face,” Balch said. “She and I are going to get this thing hopping. We have the same vision. She knows the place and she teaches things I don’t teach. … This place is going to have a presence on this campus, make Art Affair more of a classroom situation. It will make this department more than just frosting on a cake. … They won’t know what hit ’em.”

Senior Bliss Hartnett met Mann during Mann’s interview process.

“She’s got a lot of really good ideas about how to integrate art into different areas,” Hartnett said. “She seemed nice and open to ideas and changes. I think it will be good.”

Junior art major Lesley Gillaspie said she sees the hiring as a win-win situation for the department.

“I think it’s going to be a good idea because it will lighten the work load for Inge a lot,” Gillaspie said. “It will help the art department.”