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Spring Arbor University hosts two dedication ceremonies in recognition of two completed projects: The “Concept in Action” mural and the Coffman Center for Academic Innovation. The mural by world-renowned artist and alumnus Rick Herter will be dedicated on Thursday, May 14, at 3 p.m. outside of the Willow room in the Student Life Center. The Coffman Center will be dedicated on Friday, May 15, at 12:30 p.m. The dedication ceremony will be held in the lobby on the lower level of the Student Life Center. Following the ceremony, guests can tour the room and view demonstrations. Both events are free and open to the public.

Herter completed the mural over the course of a few months after picking the visual elements that best represent Spring Arbor University. “I walked around campus in July [2014] and selected a few images that encompass the Spring Arbor University Concept and core values,” said Herter. “I’m honored to have had the opportunity to create this painting for the institution that has meant so much to me.”

The mural spans three walls with the most prominent scene on a two-story wall within the Student Life Center, with more of the mural flowing on a wrap-around wall. Herter enlisted the work of SAU senior art major Alexandra Paquin, who gained valuable experience for her future career. “I wanted to teach and mentor how to paint on a large scale, but also to impart knowledge on the planning and business elements that are required of artists like writing a proposal,” said Herter. Herter and Paquin will be on hand at the dedication ceremony to share their experiences.

About Herter

This wasn’t Herter’s first large-scale mural. He painted the Century of Flight, a well-known mural in the Air Zoo (Kalamazoo), which made the Guinness Book of World Records in 2005 as the world’s largest indoor mural, but that project is simply one of his many high-profile works. The United States Department of Defense has commissioned Herter to paint significant pieces on several occasions, including the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, which hang in the Pentagon.

Herter graduated from Spring Arbor University in 1984 with an art degree, but his love for airplanes led him to a dream career. He started as a billboard painter in the commercial art and illustration arena, but that all changed when he approached the director of an annual Michigan air show. Herter offered to create a commemorative air show poster. The poster won a national award and the recognition Herter needed to launch his career. The following year, Herter was commissioned to create work for shows in Pittsburgh, Denver and Cleveland.

In 1987 Herter was invited to become a participating artist in the elite Air Force Art Program. Through this work, Herter has flown all over the world to research his projects before ever taking a stroke with the brush.

Herter’s work has hung in numerous private and public collections worldwide. Some of those collections include the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, The Air Force Academy and the Pentagon. His Corporate clients include The Boeing Co., Rolls Royce, and G.E. Aerospace. Besides the U.S. Defense Department, his work has been commissioned for the armed forces of numerous other countries.

Coffman Center for Academic Innovation

The Coffman Center will provide a space for faculty to focus on technological innovation. Centrally located on the lower level of the Student Life Center, the Coffman Center will be easily accessed by faculty. Along with the physical space, annual grants will be awarded for academic initiatives that demonstrate innovative development. “The Internet and mobile technology enable new modes of instruction and learning. The Coffman Center for Academic Innovation will encourage and help professors discover new ways to combine the best of traditional pedagogy with the best of instructional technology innovations to ensure that our students receive the greatest benefit from their Spring Arbor University education,” says Kimberly Rupert, Spring Arbor University provost and chief academic officer.

The Coffman Center will allow a space to display innovative uses of technology in a variety of methods through workshops, hands-on experimentation and peer-to-peer collaborative meetings for sharing research. The Coffman Center for Academic Innovation will serve as a catalyst for Spring Arbor University’s efforts to be a continued leader in academic innovation.  

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