Dancing to Deanship: an academic artist rises to success

Dancing to Deanship: an academic artist rises to success

Respect for culture and tradition make excellent skills in a dancer, but perhaps even more so in a dean.

“The arts prepare students to think creatively, advance with confidence and develop exceptional communication skills,” College of the Arts Dean Ivan Pulinkala said. “We are not just in the business of developing art practitioners and scholars, but more holistically, outstanding citizens.”

Pulinkala was chosen as Kennesaw State’s new dean of the College of the Arts in early March after serving as interim dean since Summer 2018 and spending the prior decade building KSU’s department of dance.

During his interim tenure as dean this academic year, Pulinkala has helped raise over half a million dollars in philanthropic support and started a re-branding project to give the College of the Arts a place within the arts community of Atlanta.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to build on the legacy we have as an academic college that is one of the doorways to KSU for donors, patrons, students, colleagues and industry partners,” Pulinkala said. “I hope to achieve regional standing as a distinguished College of the Arts. I want to celebrate the regional and national accomplishments of students, faculty and staff within each of the four disciplinary units in the College of the Arts. I also want to advance the College of the Arts philanthropic and community engagement mission at KSU.”

Pulinkala said he chose to apply for the position because his work as director of the department of dance and as a leader in the Atlanta art community gave him the experience and community connections to help serve the future development of the college.

Since joining the KSU faculty in 2005, he founded the department of dance and has served as its director and also as the chair of dance.

The KSU department of dance was built collaboratively between Pulinkala and his colleagues at KSU, along with support from community partnerships by dance and art organizations in Atlanta. The program started as a minor in 2005 and then developed into a major in 2009. The KSU Dance Theater opened on the Marietta campus in 2017 and serves as the performance home for the KSU Dance Company.

Pulinkala studied dance under several different teachers in both India and America. In 1998, he moved to America to pursue his Master’s degree in Dance from Mills College in California. He then moved to New York City to dance at the Paul Taylor School.

Pulinkala’s first faculty appointment was at Murray State University in Kentucky where he worked for four years before coming to KSU. He said he chose to work at KSU because he was excited by the idea of building the dance program.

Pulinkala is currently working on new choreographic work that will premiere in spring 2020.

“This work will be a collaboration between the College of the Arts and the College of Computing and Software Engineering,” Pulinkala said. “This is an example of the opportunity KSU provides for us to work with students and colleagues in interdisciplinary ways.”

The project is still in its early stages of development, but the goal is to create a work that celebrates the union of computing technology and art. The topic of the project is on near-death experiences that came from real-life published accounts.

Pulinkala also hopes to continue advancing and growing KSU as a major presence in the Atlanta art community.

“A focus of my deanship will be to advance the College of the Arts at KSU regionally and situate it as a vital part of the Atlanta arts ecology,” Pulinkala said. “Through various forms of community-based practices, we hope to develop internships and service-learning opportunities for our students, and provide opportunities to experience and engage more effectively with the Atlanta art community.”

To learn more about Pulinkala, visit facultyweb.kennesaw.edu/ipulinka. For information on the College of the Arts, visit arts.kennesaw.edu, and for the department of dance, visit arts.kennesaw.edu/dance.

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