Opening…Hard to Believe…but True – by Neil Baldwin

We were putting the “finishing touches” on the Creative Research Center site the other day (and I place those two words in quotes, because on the Web, as my colleague, Cindy Meneghin likes to say, nothing is ever truly finished and everything can always be changed), when a fellow-professor asked me if there would ever be any “real” events sponsored by the CRC (and I put that word in quotes…well…for obvious reasons).

To which I replied, of course there will be – starting with our Post-9/11 World Symposium here on campus in the Fall of 2011.

As a matter of fact, the origins of the Creative Research Center were most definitely real.

When the Deans in the College of the Arts — Geoffrey Newman, Ronald Sharps and Linda Davidson – first came to me and asked if I would like to take on the CRC, I leapt at the chance. Especially when they told me it was meant to be something different for Montclair State University, and that I would have to “think outside the box.” I gently reminded Geoff, Ron and Linda that in order to do so, you still need a box beyond which to think.

Once we recovered from the giddy vertigo generated by that exchange, we realized we all desired a new initiative originating in our College, by and for the Montclair State community and beyond, that would reflect the momentous sea-change taking place in American higher education and the culture at large.

That change is evident in many ways…

…by a multiplicity – more like a deluge — of media choices in our daily lives; a plethora of sensory distractions (or entertainments, depending upon your point of view); inconsistent and deficient resources, both natural and commercial — such as environmental purity, jobs and money, to name a few essentials; and rapidly-expanding, redefined marketplaces of ideas and commodities.

The Creative Research Center has been launched as a virtual place to respond to these changes.

You are inside it by virtue of reading this blog.

It has taken more than a year of endless labor, reading, cogitation and conversations, as reflected on the Who We Are and Living Document pages; of countless appointments and visits and 5:00 a.m. emails and phone calls and tweaks and Web-rhetoric debates and editorial give-and-take and emotional investment by dozens of caring and committed people, in order to “birth” the Creative Research Center.

Looking back, I see how the CRC sensibility has evolved from those embryonic brainstorming sessions.

We are now in an entrepreneurial and curatorial mode. This has special meaning for me, as vividly described recently by noted critic Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art. He says that a true curator is “somebody who pumps a lot of energy into a situation…who expresses interest in other people and brings good things out of them…[with] the ability to generate excitement, to focus attention and stir things up in a positive way.”

“We need animators,” Storr insists – and if I could wish more than anything for the future of the new CRC, it would be this quintessential quality.

As exemplified in all three of the words in our title, the Creative Research Center wants to feature and spotlight the works of others, including our most precious resource, our students; and encourage collaborations across disciplines and schools of thought.

We respect the persistent distinctions between fields – after all, this is a University – while, at the same time, will freely explore the humanistic qualities that unite all of us.

And remember: The extent to which the CRC lives up to its imaginative and intellectual ideals depends upon you, our visitors.

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