Arts teacher pushes students to color outside the lines


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Throughout her career in education, Carey McDougall of Beaver said she has received much support to experiment with different ways of teaching, engaging her students, and innovative pedagogy.

Now she hopes to provide this same support to other faculty through her new position as director of academic affairs and associate professor of art at Penn State Beaver.

“I feel like I am in a good position to give that same kind of support to faculty to be able to flourish in that same way and similarly to flourish within their research and within their service to the university,” she said.

Ms. McDougall assumed her new position on July 1. She replaced Donna J. Kuga, who has been appointed interim chancellor following the June 30 retirement of Chancellor Gary B. Keefer.

Ms. McDougall comes from Kent State University at Stark in North Canton, Ohio, where she served as an associate professor of art. During her 10 years at the university, she also served as assistant professor of art; graduate faculty member in the College of the Arts; coordinator of service-learning; Faculty Council chair; Provost Fellow; coordinator of the Women’s Studies minor; and regional campus advisor for the Women’s Studies program.

She received the 2012 Distinguished Teaching Award and served on numerous academic, professional and budget committees and councils.

Previous positions included the Catron Professor of Art at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., an instructor in the Women’s Studies Department and School of Fine Arts at the University of Connecticut Storrs Campus in Storrs, Conn., and an instructor of art at Sacred Heart University, in Fairfield, Conn.

Throughout her career, Ms. McDougall has taught a variety of courses, including sculpture, drawing, 2-D and 3-D composition, performance art, and women’s studies.

She has curated or co-curated a variety of exhibits and her art has been featured in almost 40 solo and group exhibits in Ohio, Indiana, Connecticut, New York, California, Missouri, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Bulgaria. She has presented numerous professional papers in Finland, New Mexico, Illinois, California, Georgia, Maryland, Connecticut, and Florida.

Born and raised in Woodbury, Conn., Ms. McDougall said she has always been interested in art, but chose to initially pursue a math degree at the prompting of her mother.

She attended Carnegie Mellon University for two-and-a-half years before transferring to Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, in pursuit of a more liberal arts environment and to complete her Bachelor of Arts in mathematics.

She then went on to earn degrees in liberal studies and sculpture and a certificate in women’s studies at various institutions, but said she loved her time in Pittsburgh and feels like she’s come full circle academically since this is where she started her academic trajectory.

Ms. McDougall said she doesn’t regret her degree in math as it has taught her skills that she applies every day in academia, such as to think abstractly and logically and problem solve, but it’s her artistic side that enables her to think creatively and keeps her open to different ideas.

“I’m not rigid. I enjoy new ideas and I think that comes from being an artist and being around artists,” she said. “Good art provokes good discussions. I like to ask questions and I think that comes out of being an artist also.”

Change and taking on new challenges are what Ms. McDougall enjoys and she said she is excited about being in a leadership position through which she can be a role model that growth and change for benefit are good things and don’t have to be terrifying and fearful.

Her goals for the first few months are to learn the campus and university system and understand the strengths and passions of her peers to determine how they can better serve their students.

Ms. McDougall said she is always up for the next challenge and that her best experiences have been when she was doing some new and felt a little afraid about taking a risk.

“This job offers me a lot of opportunities to learn new things and do some things that I’m not used to doing and I’m really attracted to that,” she said. “I’m so excited to be here and I couldn’t have imagined a better work environment.”


Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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