Barnes wants to expand Southern’s horizons
Amanda Cavoto – Arts & Entertainment Editor
Andrew Barnes, a candidate for the role of dean of College of Arts and Sciences credits his widespread skills in administration to his unique professional and personal experiences.
Barnes comes from a large family of seven boys and one girl. He grew up in a small town in Indiana where he said the environment and culture lacked art and creativity. Since he was a young boy, he worked to incorporate arts and crafts in his life.
“I would go to the craft stores and get every craft I could. Paint by numbers, anything,” Barnes said.
Currently serving as an administrator at Pratt institute, Barnes said Southern’s environment feels familiar to him. He mentioned the artistic atmosphere and diverse population of faculty and staff drew him to apply.
“I grew up in this environment where college was for business. That’s all it was for,” Barnes said. “It wasn’t necessary for expanding your horizons, expanding your mind and trying different things.”
Barnes said his path through higher education was nonconventional and takes pride in his “alternative route.”
After obtaining his degree in accounting for his undergraduate degree, he said that he knew he had to change direction.
“When I got out of college, I knew that this was not what I wanted to do,” Barnes said. He then received his Ph.D in English language and literature at SUNY Stony Brook.
Over a decade later, Barnes returned to school and graduated with an MFA in creative writing at Bennington College.
Barnes said SUNY Stony Brook took a chance on him despite not having an English or related field degree for his undergrad.
He said he hopes to offer opportunities like that to students at Southern. Now, higher education and advocating for all different types of students is where Barnes finds joy. He said he is inspired by the awareness and advocacy students of this generation demonstrate here at Southern.
“Students today want to make a difference, whether it’s their neighborhood, whether it’s their city, the nation, whether it’s globally, they want to make a difference because you are far more aware of the inequality than my generation was,” Barnes said.
Social justice was touched upon during the forum.
“What does social justice mean to you and how will you incorporate here at our school,” asked SGA President Alexis Zhitomi.
Barnes said that throughout his time in administration at Pratt he worked to hire diverse employees and allow access to financially under privileged students.
Barnes said the importance of accessibility and visibility of scholarships is a crucial part of success on campus.
“Having my MFA in Shakespeare and feminism helped me design programs and classes. We chose a really diverse body of students for this program and their whole goal is to write important things regarding social change,” Barnes said.
If offered the position, Pratt said he will continue to work with students on issues they have.
“Every other week, I sat down with the vice president for student affairs, the treasurer and two large representatives, Barnes said. “We went through policies and concerns and we addressed them at the university level and worked with the president.”
Barnes said he has always had an open door policy for students.
“When I became an administrator,” Barnes said, “I realized what I found was a really nice balance between what I was taught by the culture of accounting and what I was taught by the arts.”