Five Minutes With Curt Ellis, Associate Professor of Art

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This fall, after five semesters teaching as an adjunct instructor at Olivet, Curt Ellis will join the faculty full-time as associate professor of art. Professor Ellis is dedicated to igniting a passion for art in his students. He hopes they fall in love with art as much as he has. Drawing on his own experiences as a student at a small liberal arts college, Professor Ellis believes in the power of more intimate learning environments. According to him, students have the power to attain incredible success at Olivet, whether it be in art or another discipline.
Why do you love OC?
I love the people here at Olivet. I really sense that students, faculty, administrators and staff are all here together as one team to work on bettering each other and ourselves.
What is your favorite memory from your time at OC?
I have been teaching here as an adjunct instructor the past five semesters. This is my first full-time year. So far my favorite memory occurred just last April. The women’s soccer team invited me to be their FAM for the upcoming academic year, which is the designated faculty member chosen by each varsity team to support their team by attending games, practices, meals and more. I am really pumped about this role.
Where do your passions for teaching and art and graphic design come from?
I have loved art and design for as long as I can remember. I have also worked many jobs before coming to The University of Olivet. My passion is to see if I can light a fire of passion by encouraging students to fall in love with creating, working with their hands, solving complex visual problems and eking out a profession in graphic design.
What is your teaching style like?
I think teaching art and design is best suited by providing visual examples. Therefore, I hinge most of my lectures on demonstrations of how to create content for design problems and layout. How do you know that you have reached your creative potential on a particular design job? Teaching a creative objective process usually will aid designers in finding their creative potential. I provide many hours in designing problems for students in order for them to learn this process and hone their own visual voice.
What’s the average day in your role or some of the unique things you are responsible for?
My responsibilities are not only to grow the graphic design program in the Visual Arts Department, but I am also tasked with creating a hands-on learning environment for students to get real work experience within a nurturing learning environment. This will facilitate students working on actual design projects for a host of volunteer internal and external clients. Very exciting stuff.
Why do you encourage students to attend OC?
My role in encouraging matriculation at The University of Olivet is in its infancy right now. However, I feel that The University of Olivet provides a small, intimate experience for its students. This is what I share with prospective students. I am a graduate of a smaller liberal arts college. Students at Olivet — like I did as a college student — can both explore pretty much anything that they wish to pursue here. They also are allowed to go very deep into any interest that they wish to pursue. This intimate and small environment provides not only safety but accountability. In my opinion, on average, graduates of The University of Olivet are deeper learners than those at larger schools.
What do you look forward to in your role?
I love students. I really look forward to meeting new students and seeing current ones in all of my classes. Teaching for me is an individual art form. I feel that I have been a success if I can recognize where a student stands and help them better themselves within three short months. This is a role that I really cherish.
What advice do you share with students?
I use an old adage that my mom used her entire career as a first grade teacher, which is, “We are all free to choose, but we are not free to choose the consequences of our choices.” I break any design problem into a set of “givens” and “variables.” If you start immediately on the straightforward givens, the variables will become clearer as you move through the problem. At first it can be very overwhelming, and many of us procrastinate. Procrastination is the death to any professional endeavor.
What is an interesting or little-known fact about yourself?
I am a former athlete. I played varsity soccer in college. However, I am most fond of this bit of trivial quirkiness: My name — Curt Ellis — spelled backward is “Sille Truc,” which also seems to match my personality.
Learn more about The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admissions at 269-749-7189 or admissions@uolivet.edu.


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