Dr. David Gurney named interim Associate Dean of School of Arts, Media & Communication Don’t expect the badly needed new SAMC building anytime soon.

Current Center for the Arts building.

Photo courtesy of Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi.

Current Center for the Arts building.

After attempts to hire a director of the School of Arts and Media and Communication was declared a failed search, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Shawnrece Campbell, announced that Dr. David Gurney will be  the new interim Associate Dean in a memo dated June 3. Gurney is currently serving as Department Chair for the College of Communication and Media Studies and has been part of the SAMC since its inception.  He officially takes on his new role on July 1.

Former Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Dr. Diana Sipes, along with Dr. Rai Morales, Associate Professor of Music and director of Mariachi de la Isla, both applied for the position and presented their vision for the new role to the College of Liberal Arts Faculty on April 15.  Neither were hired for the position.

Gurney taking on this new leadership role is important because the Texas State Legislature finally granted TAMU-CC funding for a new SAMC building.  That’s after the university’s attempt to obtain  a tuition revenue bond to fund a new and badly needed arts building failed in 2019.  Dr. Kelly Miller told Island Waves in an interview on Oct. 31 of that year, “I do want to stress that it’s not for lack of trying,” she said. “We will certainly be able to secure this next time… It will remain a top priority,” Miller continued. In the most recent session, legislators passed Senate Bill 52, which authorized more than $3.3 billion for public universities and health institutions across the state under the heading of “Capital Construction Assistance Projects.”

TAMU-CC was earmarked $45 million, about half of what the university requested.

The assumption all along was that this latest funding would be used to give new space to the departments of Music and Theater and Dance, currently housed in the Center for the Arts.  

Non-soundproof music rooms and limited practicing space are two of the issues within the dilapidated CA, which was constructed in 1974. Since that time, the number students coming to TAMU-CC to study theater and music has increased exponentially.. 

In an interview with Island Waves, Gurney said, “There is still all likelihood that we will have a building created for the School of Arts, Media and Communication, but what that building includes, how large that building, that’s something that we are trying to work through,” Gurney said. 

 As the new building is in its initial planning stages, Gurney said that by the fall he hopes to bring in more faculty into the conversation, and to come out with a clearer vision within the next year.  But that year-long planning timeline doesn’t account for the time to fundraise this project, given that the Legislature funded only half of what the university requested . On a positive note, the changes that can be expected once this project is completed are extensive renovation of the CA,, including Music, Art and Design, and Theater Rooms to better fit the needs of faculty and students. Some of these spaces will move into the future building or be repurposed to expand what TAMU-CC can offer its students. 

“What we are gonna end up with is a great facility, but right now we are trying to figure out what can be included,” Gurney said.