dancersMessage from Dean Rodney Miller

This month’s newsletter comes with bittersweet overtones. It is February, and Valentine’s Day neatly divides it in the middle. It is the month of love tucked in the middle of winter. Last year, my wife and I celebrated by driving to Kansas City for a wonderful dinner at Lidia’s in the Crossroads’ famous Freight House, then on to the Kauffmann Center to see the premier of the Kansas City Ballet’s Swan Lake. That was to be the last time we were to sit in a theater watching a performance in a normal environment. By the time you read this newsletter, the one-year anniversary of that evening will probably have passed.

To counter the morose element of one-year anniversaries that are starting to come our way, we have decided to focus on Valentine’s Day and all its meanings for this month’s newsletter. We have included stories and anecdotes revolving around love. Regardless of the severity and longevity of this pandemic, love is all around us and love will conquer all. If you doubt that, I would direct you to the vignette’s contained herein. We think you’ll love it.


hand holding heart

1. Choose a fund you would like to donate to

Funds will be designated with different hashtags:



2. Send a text to 52014

Text the number 52014 with ‘@shockers’ followed by the fund hashtag and the amount you are donating.

Example text:
@shockers #dance $15

dollar sign

3. Follow the link to submit your payment information

You will be asked to insert your payment information to complete your gift to the College of Fine Arts.



Your donation will go directly to the WSU Foundation, in the fund of your choosing. Donations may also be made through the Foundation website:

Stories of Love

This month, the College of Fine Arts asked its faculty, staff, and students to answer one question: Who, what, or where is the love of your life? The following are some of their responses: 

"You asked me 
what I saw within your heart,
I smiled 
and took your hand, 
as I kissed your palm. 
I explained 
that you felt 
like the first rain in the spring
and the first spring breeze. 
But most of all, 
your eyes shined like the stars 
in a country sky. 
When I looked up at you, 
I was greeted
by your sunlike smile." -G

"In 1984 I was sitting onstage in Wilner Auditorium for the sing-through of the worst musical ever produced, THE APPLE TREE. The musical Director, Linda Starkey, asked if I was getting the "E" in a particular measure and I, naturally, replied, "Oh, yeah, sure." I looked across the circle at the first person I made eye contact with, (Danette, I would later learn was her name) and mouthed the words, "What the hell is an E?" She shrugged and mouthed, "I don't know." Then I fell in love with her. I can point to the very spots where we both sat, even these 36 years later. That's where I lost my heart and it's where I became whole." - Ed Baker

"My family is the love of my life. My parents support me in everything I do, encourage me to work hard, and to always do my best. My father always instills in me the pride that comes with being a young Black woman and is my cheerleader throughout life. My mom knows me so well and can read me like no other. My siblings are my built-in best friends. Everything we do is based on our faith in God and our love for others and each other." - Maya

"Filming is the love of my life. Whether it's recording someone else to make them look good or filming myself doing something silly, it never gets boring or dull as there's always ways to constantly raise the stakes with each project and find new ways to reinvent your technique through the filming or editing process. Whether its filming with a tripod, holding a monopod in the air like a staff, flying a camera around on a gimbal like youre pretending to fly a toy airplane, piloting a remote control drone, or being pushed around while filming on a wagon, filming never fails to bring out the childlike spirit in me and never ceases to be fun!" - Michael Sullivan

"My wife, Nancy, and I met when I was a senior and she was a junior at Millikin University.  Our first date was my senior voice recital.  It was a cheap date.  It was just over a year later when we became engaged here in Wichita (40 years ago) when I was working on my graduate degree. Wichita was our first home as a married couple.  It was a pleasure to return here with our family in 2014." - Alan Held

"The love of my life is, without a doubt, my dog, Archer. He has been with me for the worst and the best times of my life. He sleeps in my bed every night and without him I can barely sleep at all. We both have anxiety but we are each others coping mechanism. Without him, I would simply cease to exist." - Anonymous

"The love of my life, my husband, is the most kind, generous, down to earth man I've ever known. He is my best friend and always knows how to make me laugh. He is the biggest dork, but I wouldn't trade him for anything. I love our life, our cats, and our guinea pigs together. He truly is my biggest blessing." - K.B.

"The first time Suzanne and I were in a room together, I was wearing only a towel. We had traveled to Honolulu, HI, for the 1985 Aloha Bowl as members of the USC Trojan Marching Band. A college band is a particularly fecund environment (some would say Petri dish) for relationships of various lengths and degrees of commitment. On this occasion, her group of friends had made the questionable decision to visit one of the hotel rooms assigned to the low brass section; dinner and dancing would ensue. I stepped out of the shower and into the presence of several now intimately acquainted friends of the opposite sex, including my future wife." - Mark Laycock

"I have found the love of my life. They’re perfect in every way and always surprising me! Thick or thin, they’ll always be there. Sometimes they’re super cheesy, but I love them that way! They are always so varied I never know what I will get but I know I’ll love it! They’re sassy and saucy. Whether round, square, triangle, or other, their shape doesn’t matter to me I love them all the same! That is why PIZZA will always mean true love to me!" - Lizzy Pegler

"Brenda and I first met at the 2006 International Wood-fire Conference in Flagstaff, AZ. A mutual friend introduced us and there were definitely sparks on contact! As Brenda was teaching at the University of North Texas and I had just started as Area Head of Ceramics here, at Wichita State University, we began our courtship by driving about 20 hours a month, mostly on weekends. Our “quality time” was often spent working in the studio together to keep up with deadlines while getting to know each other better. I proposed on Valentine's Day, 2010 and that June, Brenda and daughter Brieanna moved to Wichita. . In May of 2011 we were married!" - Ted Adler

"The love of my life is tall, scruffy, and handsome, with an irresistible smile that can brighten the darkest of days. He is the president of his fraternity and involved in so much more, but still makes time for me. He hangs my art on the walls in his room and supports me in all that I do (unless it's calling myself the first lady of his fraternity). I could not have asked for a better partner as we navigate a world of possibilities." - Anonymous

"I experienced a shock to my senses the first time I watched her dance. It was a new poetry that expressed a sense of humanity beyond anything I had known so far, beyond the sports I played, more exciting than going petal to the metal down steep snow slopes. She was mercurial, a fluid moment of pure spirit, something that surfaced from deep inside of her not only for her pleasure but all of us who were witness to the occasion, a shared moment, as all good art should be, exciting, sensual, emotional, profound and certainly implacable. I wondered how anyone could access such a deep inner life, so I introduced myself." - Nick Johnson

"In 1978 I was hired for an evening's program along with several singers, mostly strangers. After a short rehearsal, we went to a local banquet room for our performance. The “Tonight” duet from West Side Story was one of my assignments. As it began, I looked for the first time into the eyes of this beautiful soprano that I had just met. Something was special about her gaze, the honesty of her performance, the warmth of her voice. As it ended, I said to myself, “I’m going to marry this woman.” She took some convincing, but in 1981 we were wed and this May we will celebrate 40 wonderful years of an exciting marriage, an enduring partnership." - Michael Sylvester

"I get such a thrill playing music on stage for a live audience. The first time I played live with a band, the venue was packed and the crowd was screaming for more. I knew then that I would always want to be on stage somehow. The rush that comes from two minutes of driving bass, crunchy guitars, (somewhat) steady drum beats and a little extra from the keyboard as a lead singer belts across the audience original lyrics about something trivial is a feeling like no other I've ever known. Playing music live with a punk band is and always will be my first love." - Anonymous

"The love of my life... isn't with me right now. He is far, far away (not galaxies). Like what the Plain White T's say, "I'm a thousand miles away but tonight [he] looks so pretty."  Through texting and calling, his voice rings through my head. "I love you," he says. "To the moon and back". I fear that moon landing will be fake, but he has shown me the proof of how much love he's willing to give. The passion, and generosity he shows leaves tears. Tears of happiness. Thank you, for giving me that warm feeling that others couldn't." - Jade

"The love of my life is something that encourages me to get out of bed every morning. Without it, I would be tired and late for everything. Whenever I need a boost in energy, it never lets me down. It's even helped me pull one or two all-nighters before. It's seen me at my worst. It's seen me at my best.  Oh coffee, what would I do without you?" - Kaelyn Hannah

"Little did I know when I did research to ask for a new puppy that it ultimately would lead me to buying a sweet little West Highland White Terrier from my future mother-in-law. Over time, my lessons in Westie grooming and dog showing provided a perfect venue for my future hubby to observe me from afar. So after year 3, he finally asked for a date. Now, after 47 years and two kids, I guess our mutual research paid off." - Elaine Bernstorf

"My husband and I started dating when we were 12 years old. We've grown together and every day is a new adventure. We got married at 19 and will celebrate our 6th anniversary in the fall. He really exemplifies the "through sickness and in health" vow; I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the spring. He's been wonderful to me and always taken care of me, supporting me in going back to school. Without him, I wouldn't have the strength to carry on, and I am grateful every day that he is by my side through it all." - Anonymous

"My friends are always the love of my life. I put so much energy and care into them, and they always with out a doubt make me endlessly happy I don’t know what I would do with out them in my life." - Anonymous

"The love of my life started out as my childhood friend, and is now someone I consider family just as much as I do my mom.  He is the only person who I can effortlessly be around a hundred percent of the time.  When I look at him, I feel the relief of coming home after a long day.  The love of my life falls asleep giggling with me, and wakes me up to a warm cup of coffee.  He tells me, "Be sure to take allergy medicine, the pollen is high today."  The love of my life is someone who I don't mind making sacrifices for, or swallowing my pride for.  The love of my life is the family that I picked for myself.  100% of me knows that it's him." - M.G.

"The Corona Love:

The beginning of pandemic, I was trapped in a dilemma.
She came. She listened. She shared. She's the one!
Her presence gave me strength and hope. 
I love you forever and I will never let you go.

A & A" - Adrian

"I would have to say that visual ART is the love of my life. It has always been there for me, in the roughest, happiest, and most emotional times of my life. It's always there when I'm lonely, or when I'm bored. It's there to cheer me up when life smacks me in the face. It frustrates me, sometimes I simply don't understand it, and we fight. After a much needed break, we spend hours and hours making love in the studio to the sound of music. It's the messiest being I have ever known, but I still continue to love it. It's my therapy, my life long lover, my friend until the end." - Lily Guillen

"When I was eight years old, my Dad took me to the New Orleans Philharmonic to hear Beethoven, conducted by Maestro Torkanowski. I was enraptured by the way the conductor's black hair, so sleek at the beginning of the symphony, was so excitingly tousled by the end. In that moment, I decided that I was going to marry a music conductor. Needless to say, my black-haired love of my life, Victor, has fulfilled that childhood dream most perfectly! He asked me to marry him on Valentine’s Day, and we have spent over twenty-four years making beautiful music together." - Denise Celestin

"He's kind, supportive, and loving at all times. He takes me as I am, good and bad. He is fun and smart. I look for every opportunity to say wonderful things about him to anyone who listen. We have so much and he bring such joy into my life every single day. I am so grateful to have this beautiful human in my life and that he chose me." - Anonymous

"I could always ramble about how kind and beautiful she is, but I think the best way to describe her is how quickly she became one of my shy younger sister's favorite people to be around. It's always funny to watch them interact, either by playing video games, having in-depth conversations about which Target brand face mask is the best, or trash-talking me in Settlers of Catan. Very few people get to see my sister act that way, and I'm honored to have found someone she approves of. Family has always meant a lot to me, and her amazing charisma has found her a place in my heart, as well as my parents' and siblings' hearts." - Anonymous

"The love of my life loved me more than I loved myself, and saw more in me than I what I could see. The love of my life opened my eyes and in time was an inspiration for me to grow and heal. The love of my life is my artistic muse. She appeared in my life when least expected, and rocked my boat, and rocked my WORLD! The love of my life is my best friend." - Anonymous

"The love of my life takes me around the world. Trying different foods, new adventures, and experiencing vibrant cultures. I haven't been able to be with the love of my life as much as I would like to and unfortunately, we've grown apart since the pandemic. But the love of my life is always part of my dreams. The feeling I get when I am able to experience this love makes me feel like I'm flying on top of the world. I am literally on cloud nine. It gives me such a rush and I cannot wait until I am able to see the love of my life again. Can you guess what it is? It's TRAVELING!" - Trang Bui

"The love of my life is my fiancé. He has been so amazing in helping me during these crazy times, keeping me on track with work and school, and supporting me through some of my most difficult times yet! He is my rock and I love him more and more each day :) My dog, Chloe, is also my rock. She’s my ESA and always knows when I need some snuggles 💕" - Anonymous

"We were students way back in the 1970s. As students we warmed to each other back then yes, but life took us to different places and different people. We went our separate ways. Unbeknownst to us, bad marriages to other people were creating new freedoms.  I finally got up the nerve to make a long distance phone call. And  lo and behold she didn't hang up!  Instead we spent over four hours on the phone catching up on those 45 years of lost time, laughing uproariously at finding out that our voices sounded the same as we remembered them!  We love every day that we have together. Valentines Day and actually all days are very special." - Anonymous

"The love of my life isn't one person, my case. It is two people, my personal family. My girlfriend, the mother of my child, and my child. Without them, not only I would be worse off, but I would possibly not be here. It is their love, their support that has led me to where I am today. The love of my life is my family." - A. Quillin Painter

"5'8", dark hair, blue eyes, beautiful nongendered spirit that can bench press me." - Matthew

"The love of my life has always been NATURE. There seems to be nothing it (She?) cannot teach us. Impermanence we learn with the seasons. Change we learn (again and again) by observing a wave, a plume of fog, a dying flower. I feared change most of all…because it took my sense of self away. But nature changes all the time, and it’s not considered a loss. I need to learn from the love of my life. Point Lobos, California, is my cherished place to learn these lessons: violent sea, colors that reflect the morphing sky, receding tides…like us." - Andréa Banke

“'You’ll be a wonderful mother someday.' These were the first words I ever said to a woman I had never seen before. We were on a break during the inaugural rehearsal of an opera in which we were both cast, ironically getting married in the third act. She was on a palette in a corner watching the six-month old infant of her friend who was singing yet another role. Now, over 40 years and two children later, the worst (if sincerest) pick-up line ever uttered has proven to be prophetic – she is a wonderful mother, and wife, and friend." - Anonymous

"I met my love in second grade. He had brown curly hair and eyes the color of sunlight through ivy, and the biggest smile I’d ever seen. I saw him every Sunday in church for ten years (and I swear he got more handsome by the week) until I couldn’t stand it anymore and asked him on a date myself. We’ve been together for 5½ years now, and I can’t think of a better person to promise my forever to. He is my best friend, the sommelier to my cheesemonger, my favorite Player 1, and the love of my life." - Madison

"It was love at first sight, as cheesy as that sounds. He was my best friend, the ‘sexy cowboy’ (as he called himself). His laugh, his smile, how he got sunburnt so quickly, and how he had his heart on his sleeve. My first love. Rest In Peace, hun." - Anonymous

"My husband makes me happy in so many ways. People are often amused by just how similar we are, and how lucky we were to have found each other. I love laughing with him, goofing around with him, making him smile, and just being with him. He makes me feel so special and loved every day. Even the aspects of ourselves that we won't have in common help each other improve ourselves. I am a picky eater, and he has had me to try so many new foods that I've loved. And while he can be a bit apathetic when it comes to people that he doesn't know personally, and I've helped him grow warmer to the world, not just those he is close to. I am so lucky." - Anonymous

"We met in an impossible time. The most important people come at the most unexpected time of your life yet they soon become your world. Everything was perfect, except for the circumstances for how we met. The timing would always be off and the near misses would pile up. Watching each other grow apart even though we wanted nothing else than to be together, it was just impossible. The "right person wrong time" love story I'll never forget. But to me, they will always be my first love." - Anonymous

"We were 'first loves' in high school and 're-met' over 20 years later at a small convenient store in the town we grew up in.  He was visiting his parents and I had moved back to town from Oklahoma.  I see the sky and endless possibilities and he notices the grass growing and nuances of life all around us." - Cheyla Clawson

"The love of my life is my girlfriend of 3 years. She's my entire world, and the fact we're in a long distance relationship has not stifled that at all. We originally met in an LGBTQ+ server on Discord, where she would sometimes talk to me about her special interest, which was company logos on movies and such. It was such a quirky thing and I liked it, but she had a partner at the time so I didn't expect anything to develop. But one day, she broke up with her partner and drew a love confession to me." - Persephone

"Well, this is gonna be short. If you wanna know about the romantic "love of my life" then the list is non-existent to choose from. I have been single for all of my short 19 years on this planet. Now if we want to get all mushy, mushy, gooey I would then list my friends and my family! But let's be real the love of my life is my dog, my art, my work, and the few people I actually enjoy the company of. Because it is hard to tolerate people. Adults suck! And I mean that in the kindest way possible, people specifically adults suck." - Unanonymous

"I don’t think I really have a love of my life, of course I love my family but I haven’t felt like I know someone or thing that I’m truly in love with. And that’s ok, I feel like love is a special thing that happens so rarely that not everyone has it at the same time." - B.R.E.

"The love of my life is everywhere. She sees the same sun, moon, and stars. The love of my life has many curves. She has flaws and faults. The love of my life is planet earth." - K.M.

"She is me." - Emilee

"The human condition is the love of my life. I've been trained to emulate it on the stage, taught to embrace it in all its forms by my parents and mentors, and have witnessed its delicate strength and unwavering resolve in conflict. Just when I think I've seen the worst of humanity and the impending darkness it brings, the human condition prevails and showers me with compassion, generosity, tenacity, hope, and love until I can see the light again." - Ann Marie Siegwarth

Introducing: Fine Arts Features

Led by Dean Rodney Miller, this series of video interviews delves deeper into the lives of many notable faculty and staff in the College of Fine Arts. Kicking off the series is Jeff Pulaski, WSU alum and current Director of the School of Art, Design and Creative Industries.

College of Fine Arts YouTube Channel