Letter to the Committee

Dear Promotion and Tenure Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to show you my work and be considered for promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor at KCAI. This is my eighth year of my time at KCAI, half of which has been spent in the Foundation Department, and the other helping teach out and transform the Digital Media program into the current Interactive Arts program, now in its second year. To begin, I would like to provide you with an overview of the evolution of my time and work at KCAI.

Originally I applied for an opening in the Graphic Design Department, but after discussing my background with the committee it was decided I teach in the Foundations Department, where I was from 2010-2014 (including an additional 2 Spring Workshops while teaching Digital Media). This is where I learned a great deal about pedagogy and working with students in a critical-thinking-centered environment. Many of the methods in critique, process-based learning, and the creation of a communal environment, including important projects, I still use in Interactive Arts.

Beginning in 2012, KCAI offered a program under “Digital Media.”  In the Spring 2014 semester, I was asked to offer support to the Digital Media program while still also teaching in the Foundations program.  During this time, I was teaching overload while also doing research to supplement my previous experience for this new role, attempting to recruit additional students, networking, and helping with morale and upkeep of the then-struggling program.  I helped to “teach out” junior and senior students as the institution shifted away from the “Digital Media” curriculum.

After that time, I made a proposal to the school to transform the Digital Media curriculum into the less technology-centered curriculum, now known as Interactive Arts, and become certified by NASAD as an official Interactive Arts Program. This re-imagined, more holistic curriculum observes not only the technological advances being made for art and design (as was the central focus of Digital Media), but also the ways in which people are affected and have the capabilities to change the world around them. The Interactive Arts major was approved by NASAD in 2014 and is currently in its second year.

In the Spring 2015 semester, I was asked to teach a workshop on projection and video to the Foundation Department, which lead to 5 majors the first year IA was in place. We now have an amazingly talented group of students and the current juniors are creating work that will continue driving students to to the program.

In light of the unconventional evolution of my academic career, in the last few years I have been challenged to quickly develop expertise in a wide array of topics.   This learning curve has overlapped with my own research and work, as I have incorporated the new knowledge and skills.  To do this, I have pursued goals as varied as experimenting with virtual reality, teaching myself Python (a coding language) and integrating projection mapping in multiple ways in my work.  In effect, I am learning, applying, and creating, just as I ask my students to do, and just as I hope to continue to do as an Associate Professor at KCAI.  This gives shape to a broad portfolio rooted in people, learning, teaching, and technology.


Thank you for your time and consideration,

David Steele Overholt