Picture this: two dozen grown-up looking people in a classroom, all of them faculty, plus a couple of student assistants. All are wearing more or less elaborate togas or poorly disguised bed sheets. Some are negotiating in a civilized manner, European Parliament style. Others are yelling and hurling insults at each other, antique Roman Senate style. This is the scene in a workshop conducted by Mary Beth Looney to introduce the “Reacting to the Past” pedagogy to Brenau classrooms in the spring of 2013, and the participants are having a grand time playing out an event that might have taken place 2,000 years ago. A number of courses, covering a variety of majors across the curriculum, are likely to adopt some form of this role-playing game, which was initiated at Barnard College.
“The Faculty of the Year 2013 Award goes to Professor Mary Beth Looney”, Provost Nancy Krippel announced at the Faculty Retreat Thursday. “Her sense of innovation, the quality of her work with students, and her merits in promoting the fine arts have made her the best choice of many.”
Bringing innovation to Brenau University has been Looney’s trade mark. Many Women’s College students count her study abroad trips to Greece and Italy among the highlights of their stay at Brenau. A few years ago, faculty colleagues enthusiastically attended her “Credit Cafe” sessions, which provided a forum about teaching methods and ways for continuous improvement. Old timers remember Looney as a graphic artist and assistant manager in the gallery.
Chair of the Department of Art and Design since 2005, Professor of Art and Design, and Program Director of Studio Art, Looney earned her B.A. degree in Studio Art from Roanoke College. Her M.F.A. in Painting came from the Savannah College of Art and Design. To that, she added a Master’s Degree in Art History from the University of Georgia. From 1996 to 2004, Looney was an adjunct professor at Brenau University before becoming a full-time faculty member. “ Professor Looney is not only a conscientious department chair and advisor, she is an outstanding teacher,” said Dr. Andrea Birch, Dean of Fine Arts and Humanities.
Given the close relationship between Brenau University and the arts, and the one between Mary Beth Looney and Brenau University, it surely won’t be long until the next round of innovations comes from her office.