Community group organizes to support WSU’s School of Art and Design

Ryan Gates, Kate Van Steenhuyse, Trish Higgins, Advocates board member, and Royce Smith, School of Art and Design director, attended the Art and Design Advocates-sponsored VIP party during the school’s annual fundraiser, Project Run-A-Way, on April 18.
Ryan Gates, Kate Van Steenhuyse, Advocates board member Trish Higgins and School of Art and Design Director Royce Smith attended the Art and Design Advocates-sponsored VIP party during the school’s annual fundraiser, Project Run-A-Way, on April 18.

The Wichita State School of Art and Design is one of the best kept secrets in town, but now there’s a group of advocates to help spread the word.

    “There are no recitals. There are no productions. The school deserves more attention than it gets,” said Kelly Callen, member of the newly formed Art and Design Advocates. “For more than 80 years, it has produced wonderful students who have gone on to do wonderful things.”

    Callen was talking about recent alumni Sonia Greteman ’82, president of the Greteman Group; and Bill Gardner ’81, ’83, owner of Gardner Design and founder of

    “I had talked about and thought about a group like this for a long time,” Callen said. “I believe this group will bring community awareness to the program, its faculty and students, in addition to helping raise money. We need a group to toot the horns for the faculty, staff and students.”

    News about this specialized group spread.

    “We’re just really getting this thing going,” said Gardner, Art and Design Advocates chair. “We’ve elected officers and are determining who can represent which art areas.”

    The first event the Art and Design Advocates sponsored was a studio visit with photographer Larry Schwarm, distinguished professor of photography at Wichita State. His appointment was made possible through the support of art enthusiasts and friends who admire his work.

    “Larry Schwarm coming has really helped bring advocates to the program,” said Callen.

    The first fundraising project was sponsoring a VIP party during the School of Art and Design’s annual moneymaker, Project Run-A-Way, which is a contest and art fashion showcase of student work to raise money for Shift Space, a student-run art gallery in the Commerce Street Lofts. About 30 people attended the party.

    “Attendees enjoyed refreshments on the third floor of McKnight West and could watch the show from there or go down to the main floor,” said Carolyn Copple, Advocates member and Ulrich Museum of Art membership and special events manager. “We raised nearly $1,000.”

    Copple is an alumna of the School of Art and Design.

    “I like working with and supporting students in my role at the museum and in my private life as well,” she said.

    “The school is in the middle of a transformation regarding what it offers,” said Royce Smith, director of the School of Art and Design and also an Advocates member. “We are charting a course for what makes this school special, looking outside the norm to what we offer in media and technology and looking outside for resources to the public arts and engagement with the community to be a part of what we do.”

    The school’s admittance rate is up 68 percent, said Smith, the highest in the past five years.

    “We are poised for amazing growth.”

    And now there are people to toot those horns.

    To become an Art and Design Advocates member, please contact Smith at or at 316-978-7713.

Art and Design Advocates

Sharon Bastian Denise Irwin
Dr. Peg Bicker Anthony McSwain
John Brammer Rodney Miller
Robert Bubp Richard Overby
Mat Buckingham Sharon Isaacs Pullins
Kelly Callen Barbara Rensner
Carolyn Copple Mike Roach
Bill Gardner Laura Scholl
Diana Gordon Royce Smith
Brandon Hathaway Tanya Tandoc
Amy Herd Trish Van Osdel
Trish Higgins  



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