50 voices speaking in defense of art



In response to news of the destruction of murals at Central CT State University, there has been dozens of letters from around the world written in protest.

Dear Dr. Miller,

I am no longer employed at CCSU, but having spent 13 years teaching public history there, I cannot be silent about the destruction of public art on campus. The mural collection represents one of the campus’s most important cultural resources. You may remember that a number of years ago Professor Elizabeth Langhorne and I organized a New Britain mural tour that connected the students’ work with the Bellin murals and the Thomas Hart Benton mural at the New Britain Museum of American Art. Part of CCSU’s first “Night at the Museum,” the tour was well received and covered in the local press. I included the production of that tour in my promotion materials because I believed that the university administration valued the murals as a source of school identity and pride. I am saddened to discover that I was wrong.

I prefer to think that the destruction of these pieces of art happened because of building maintenance and not as an act of censorship aimed at the challenging ideas contained in some murals. But even if that were the case, it is still inexcusable. Having worked on museum deacession projects, I understand that cultural resources are not truly permanent and that sometimes the old must make way for the new. But getting rid of a cultural resource is not something to take lightly. Decisions must always follow written policies and procedures, include careful review and consultation, and provide justification for each action taken. The fact that the mural program director did know what was happening until the destruction had already begun (and how sad that it was reported by a student artist who saw first hand that his art would not be valued) tells me that this was not a conscientious program of campus renewal. It was a simple act of destruction.

I now work as the Executive Director of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, an organization that often provides grants to universities to engage in community cultural projects. It is thrilling to see faculty and administrators work on projects that enrich the lives of students and make campuses inviting places for area residents. But watching that work makes me even more puzzled by CCSU’s actions. CCSU has a wonderful resource in the mural program. Why not cultivate it?


Briann G. Greenfield

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Dear Colleagues, Students and Alumni,

I was at school, in my office the day Mike Alewitz found out about the destruction of the murals. I was available , as Art Department Chairperson the entire week after exams as well. What upsets me most concerning this incident ,is the fact that the Art Department was not consulted. When an art student paints a mural in a building other than Maloney Hall, they have worked hard, researched their subject, produced countless studies to come up with their final mural which then undergoes a rigorous approval process. These students are our best BA undergraduate art students, and MS Art Education students who are K-12 public school art teachers. To have their work destroyed without careful consultation with the Art Department, giving us the opportunity to contact students, to allow them to visit the work for the last time,photograph it, stand before it or whatever, is shameful. They have been treated without the respect and consideration they deserve. It is, of course “legal” within the University Mural Policy to paint over the murals. However, it is also correct, the University has never planned to remove murals in this fashion ,without warning, without consultation. I am immensely proud of CCSU’s murals and the artists who have made them. I appreciate that the plan to destroy additional murals has been halted.

Sincerely ,

Rachel Siporin

Professor of Art

Art Department,Chairperson

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Dear President Miller:

I am writing to you from the city of Oaxaca de Juárez in southern Mexico, nestled in the valley where corn was first cultivated. I have the privilege of living in culture that has a deep respect for, and appreciation of, communication through all forms of art.

Oaxaca is filled with museums and public art. In addition, her walls are covered with murals, both officially sanctioned and unauthorized. An example of the latter: My current neighbor, previously lived next to a concrete bench built into a wall along her street. It’s primary function seemed to serve as a gathering place for garbage and graffiti. Being an artist, she painted a living room scene around the bench, replete with, a lamp, bouquets of flowers, pillows on the sofa/bench, and a framed painting with the image of a smiling creature holding a sign that quotes Oaxaca’s favorite son and former Mexican president, Benito Juárez: “El respecto al derecho ajeno es la paz.” (Respect for the rights of others is peace.) It is a quote that every Mexican school child learns and in the eighteen years since the bench and mural were first painted, it has become a beloved icon of the street and very little graffiti and garbage have reappeared.

Oaxaca would lose much of her character and lessons would be lost, if we were to wake one morning and find all her murals disappeared. The story is the same at CCSU and it would be shameful if the beautiful and thought-provoking student murals at CCSU were to be needlessly destroyed.

Shannon Sheppard

Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico


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Dear Mr President Miller,

Although I live a long way a way from your university I am very saddened to read that you are systematically destroying these spectacular and inspiring murals.

Art is powerful and art has truth. Art can ask questions we may feel we want to avoid answering. Discussion follows.

These murals are enormously valuable. Do not continue with their destruction!!!


Henry Dangar


* * * * *

Dear President Jack Miller,

I was saddened to hear the news about murals on campus being covered up. As an alumni, I remember walking the halls of CCSU, and in every building I saw works of art. Some I stopped to ponder, some were not my cup of tea. But how wonderful to be able to wait for a class and be able to view an original piece of art right on front of you, created by your own classmates. Classmates who worked hard to share those wonderful creations with us. I truly find it tragic to hear some have been removed. But not just removed, but covered over permanently. Can you say with a clear head and heart that none could be saved? Did you take all the steps and make all the necessary phone calls needed before making this decision. If they NEEDED to be removed, then how come people weren’t notified? And how many more murals will be lost in this same way. At a university where murals are part of our culture, our identity, and something to be proud of, why are they being covered? Just because it’s not the Mona Lisa, does not mean it’s not priceless. Art is art, no matter the form, and it’s important, and should not be covered up. Again, I am truly saddened to hear of this act. May the future not hold more of its kind.


Shawna Bernard

Graduate Class of 2012

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President Miller & Dr. Bachoo,

I am writing to you about the painting over (destruction) of the many murals at CCSU on 5/14/14. I do understand that periodically murals at the university will need to painted over to make way for new art to be made. What I don’t understand is how the administration could make decisions about painting over murals without conferring with the art department (particularly Mike Alewitz who coordinates the program at the university). How could the administration know what the needs for space are or which murals should be painted over if there was a need for space. Also, I always assumed that the administration would confer with people in each building about the murals that were housed there and possibly the artists who created them before the pieces of art were slated for painting over.

I need to let you know that I am upset about the way decisions were made to paint over these murals. First of all, as I mentioned above, the people who knew the most about these murals couldn’t have been consulted because at least one pretty grave mistake was made. Aside from the loss of many really exceptional pieces of art that are gone forever, one of the murals that was painted over was actually painted onto a canvas which was paid for with CCSU Departmental & School of Technology funds so that if the time ever arose that the mural was slated for destruction, it would be taken down. If the administration had talked to Mike Alewitz or anyone in the BMS Department they would have known about this and would have been able to take the mural down. This mural was used as a backdrop for BMS poster sessions and events and was also used as the cover for 3 editions of a BMS textbook.

I think apologies need to be made at the least. I would hope with the knowledge that you have probably gleaned by talking to the many people who I’m sure have contacted you in the past few days, that you will alter whatever policies there are for painting over murals at CCSU in the future. You cannot undo the destruction of the murals that were painted over during the night/early morning of May 14th but I hope nothing like this will ever happen again at CCSU in the future.

Elizabeth King

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Mr. Miller,

I was shocked to see on Facebook that you are planning to destroy murals that are displayed through the CCSU Campus. Why are you doing this? Whatever happen to freedom of expression??? Isn’t this the USA? These are beautiful murals. Some may be atypical art pieces but, these pieces were created by artist who put their heart and soul into these creations.

As an alumnus, I’m embarrassed by your actions.

Marisa A Bouchard

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Dear CCSU President Jack Miller,

I was very saddened to learn that several of the unique murals on your campus, created under the auspices of the Art Department and with the dedicated energy of CCSU students, have been or will soon be destroyed.

Please stop this destruction. This artwork plays a special role in daily campus life and provides a connection between ‘generations’ of students, in addition to contributing to a lively, stimulating environment in what otherwise would be neutral, barren spaces.

Any removal or updating/maintenance of these artworks should go through the Art Department, and be part of an open process, as befitting a university campus in a democratic society.

Please put a stop to this destruction immediately. It is a pity that so much has already been destroyed. Perhaps you were not aware of this outrage to your campus, but I am sure that you are hearing about it now, and from many people in your university community and elsewhere.


Laureen McLaughlin

Montreal, QC

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Mr. Miller;

As an alumna of Central Connecticut State University, a former employee of CCSU’s Art Galleries, and a Master of Arts in Art and Design History, I find the University’s action of destroying thoughtful and esthetic works of art on public grounds disgraceful and humiliating.

This action could be undertaken only by an authoritarian or coward who has no other way to make a mark on the community he is said to serve except to engage in a radical exercise of pedagogic narcissism. Many of the works in question reflect topics and issues these students pursue through their education and study. Do you really feel threatened by a math student who finds beauty in string theory? In destroying these murals, you are saying that there is no room for creative learning or interdisciplinary development at CCSU.

Congratulations on undermining the student population in the Art Department and embarrassing the University generally with this obscene and petty action. I now feel ashamed to associate myself with the institution and have lost any hope that CCSU creates an environment of free thinking, critical inquiry, or informed self expression among its diverse body of students and faculty alike.

Shame on you.

Krista Azzara

CCSU Graduate 1993, BA English Literature

Kingston University Graduate, 2008, MA Art and Design History

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President Miller,

My name is Kenneth Mitchell. I am a full time artist and have painted several murals around the CCSU campus as a student. Most visibly, the entryway/ 1st floor of the Barnard Education Staircase project depicting Frederick Douglass and the Noyes Academy.

I am compelled to relay my utter disgust and offense at the recent plan to destroy 18 murals on campus.

Not only was it an unprecedented act to try and remove that many murals at once, >>>>EIGHTEEN!!!!< << your administration tried to do it without notifying the art department, Professor Alewitz or any of the artists who donated their artwork to the University. Not only did you not notify anyone relevant, you waited until the end of the school year and hoped no one would notice as you destroyed thousands of hours of students work! But we did notice. Even those of us years out of the program. I have watched the mural program for years now without an incident remotely close to this taking place… So don’t tell us this is a periodic thing that happens to “make room” for more artwork. There is more than enough space on campus to have every mural class paint on blank walls for decades. There are even buildings that have no murals… So how can that argument possibly be valid? Its hardly surprising though, given the evident disregard of the art department. Nearly 8 years ago now I painted cracking plaster and exposed bricks outside the art office to high light the dismal state of the art building and the resources available to the art department. Nearly 8 years later, I go back and see the same cracks in the walls, broken fascia, the same worn out equipment and the same general disregard for the paying students in your arts department. I get your message president Miller. It’s loud and clear. Here’s my message… And I represent the sentiment of a whole lot of other CCSU alumni… STOP! We do NOT appreciate you sneaking behind everyones backs to destroy student work. We demand an apology to the CCSU art community for this ridiculous offense our mural program! Look around President Miller, there are no other university level mural programs in the US. NOT ONE!! You have the only one. Its a golden bragging point if you stop trying to stomp it out. Sincerely, Kenneth Mitchell

Class of 2009

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Dear President Miller,

It is with great pain and sadness in my heart that I write this email. The reports of the removal of Student Murals from the Copernicus Building are both shocking and disturbing. While I understand that these works exist at the permission of the University, it is the lack of discourse with members of the CCSU Art Department that pushes the envelope of what a reasonable individual can be forced to accept. I ask in the name of all graduates, students, faculty and staff who have ever been touched by or participated in the offerings of CCSU’s esteemed Art’s Programs that a moratorium be put upon the removal of these works. I always felt that the greatest thing I learned as a University Student was the art of communication, and without that Mr. President, what do any of us really have? Bare walls and empty hearts, that’s what.


Elliot Spencer Thomas Vallez

CCSU Class of 2004

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This is an outrage. Taking down these murals is nothing but a waste of time and money. Art is meant to evoke emotion, connection and understanding of the human spirit. None of which can be done with a beige wall.

Perhaps your efforts would be better spent paying attention to which of your faculty are imprisoned rather than destroying art. Also perhaps you can take the raise which you awarded the member of your faculty who is in jail and put it towards perserving the murals or even funding a new mural.
 We all make mistakes but please don’t let the removal of art on your students campus be one of them.

Please contact me with any questions or concerns.


Noël Sanborn

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Dear president,

It is a very immature, waste of money, idea to remove the murals created by your students. As a graduate of CCSU I thought I should inform you of that. I remember walking around campus purposely to look at the murals. The art is part of the school. Take a poll, have a vote. Find out how the people feel before you make the wrong move.

I will donate money to keep the art murals!

Sincerely, Steven Korb

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President Miller:

Regarding the unannounced destruction of murals at CCSU, I liken this act to the recent destruction of WPA murals in Maine’s capitol by their bonehead governor. Admit the error. Stop the destruction. Work with the art department and artists to restore the works or establish a procedure for “sun setting” panels to allow for new works. These murals display CCSU as an institution with life, creativity and investment by its students. More beige walls would merely display an “institution.”

This is no way to run a public university on the rise.

Doug Renfrew

Clinton, CT

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Dear President Miller,

I have been a proud student at CCSU for four years now, and hearing that the murals were to be destroyed has made me incredibly upset. I felt like CCSU was different than other colleges because of a rich understanding and appreciation for artwork, but with this current plan to remove these pieces without the art department OR artist’s understanding is terrible.

I can understand some murals may be painted over for room for more projects, but only with the supervision and acceptance from the art department. Art isn’t just pretty pictures, art is something an artist speaks through to explain life. And I can assure you that art majors and non art majors alike loved these pieces. People always talk about them and share their favorites. Even on very stressful days seeing these artworks can make me feel a little bit better before a difficult test.

Life isn’t just about making tons of money or getting high honors, life is about expression and understanding. Imagine the world without the arts, no music, no tv, no artwork to look at and admire. Art has been a contributing factor to the history of man in the first place, and there is no reason to bring these pieces down. Tearing down murals like this not only hurts the art department and students, but all of the students currently attending CCSU.

I’m hoping that the destruction of these pieces will be haulted, and the care and attention to the arts would be brought back to an otherwise wonderful school.

Please reconsider your decisions

Anna Castaldo

* * * * *

President Miller:

This is to protest the destruction of more than a dozen murals on the campus over which you preside, murals in Copernicus Hall, Willard Hall, and others. These murals have artistic merit, beautify the campus, and enhance the day-to-day experience of students, faculty, and staff alike.

It is hard to imagine a reason for the destruction of these works of art, particularly in such numbers. If one or two were in an inconvenient location or on a controversial subject, a reasonable explanation would be likely. But with such a range of art, in many locations, on many themes, almost none even approaching controversial, its destruction suggests simple disregard for or hostility to creative expression. Please put a stop to this unfortunate damage.


Matthew Light,

Stratford, Conn.

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Dear President Miller,

I have just finished my first year at Central after transferring from an art school. All in all I’d say I made a great decision, but when I heard murals were being destroyed, it made me sad to think a place I was enjoying so much would do this.

One of the things I like most about CCSU is the art surrounding the entire campus. Walls that would be bare and dull are filled with color, stories, and interest. It’s impressive to see just how many murals there are, and I feel to destroy them is the opposite of what the school should be doing.

We should be showing them off and making more – the campus is our canvas and I feel that shows school spirit more than anything else. This is something unique to our campus and our students. It fosters a feeling of appreciation for the arts and the people who create it; an appreciation for education and a life filled with something other than bare and dull walls.

I ask you to reconsider your decision and reach out to the artists and art department to find a way to keep the murals coming, and keep Central a positive place to learn and create.

Thank you,

Molly McGuire

* * * * *

As an alumna of CCSU, I was saddened to hear of the destruction of murals on campus. Public art is so important. It brightens and enriches our lives. Please re-think this. Save the murals.


Michelle M Phaneuf

BFA 1984

* * * * *

I’ve just heard of the University’s plan to destroy 18 murals on campus, with some already having been destroyed. After looking through some of the pictures of the destroyed murals, I noticed that one of them was mine.

I attended CCSU as an undergrad and also earned 2 master’s degrees from the University. I was always proud to call CCSU alma mater. Until now.

This reckless destruction of public art saddens and disappoints me. While I may not necessarily have enjoyed my mural painting class, I was still very proud of my final mural as well as all the hard-working hours I put into it.

Every year I receive calls from students asking for donations to support the University and it’s various programs. This is the first year I will decline to donate as I’m ashamed to be associated with a school that would destroy such a large amount of public art.

Allison Pianka-Gray

Technology Education Teacher

* * * * *

Dear President Miller,

I’m a Ph.D. student at the University of Notre Dame — I have nothing to do with CCSU.

However, I was recently told about CCSU’s murals by a CCSU alumna.

I’ve seen pictures of several of the murals, and I think they’re beautiful and a true treasure to the campus.

My alma mater (Eckerd College) had similar murals created by students.

The murals provided a personal touch to the campus and a feeling of being connected to a local community.

Notre Dame doesn’t have a lot of student-created art, but I wish they did. The campus is physically beautiful but it lacks the personalized feel provided by works like the murals at CCSU.

I hope CCSU will continue to display the murals with pride.

Thank you for your time,

RJ Nowling

* * * * *

President Miller,

I was forwarded a short article stating that the university is getting rid of several murals at CCSU. I sincerely hope this is not true. I was an adjunct at CCSU for several years and the campus murals are quite unique, beautiful, and a source of pride for the students and faculty. Please consider the value of this art to the university and reconsider their destruction.

Best, Nancy Boone

Nancy C. Boone, Esq.

Project Coordinator

Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut, Inc.

* * * * *

I saw a post on Facebook about murals at CCSU and wanted to email you to ask you to please stop destroying murals. If there is a compelling reason to remove a mural, it should go through a procedure that includes the artist and the community. Art has value for our culture and society – it is the ultimate expression of free speech.

Thank you for hearing my concerns,

Lou Okell

artist & Connecticut resident

owner of Arkettype Graphics & Printing

New Milford, CT

* * * * *

President Miller, please take a moment of your time to read my email. I ask that you ponder the following quote for just a few seconds.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

There is one thing in common with your practices and some of the great atrocities of the world, nazi Germany, Chinese cultural revolution for example. The destruction of artwork has typically been associated with the conquering of a people by a tyrannical ruler. Who are you conquering, and why are your students’ the victims? I would urge you, for the sake of your students, faculty and perhaps most of all for yourself, that you leave the artwork up.


Scott Cornish



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It saddens me to find out that murals are being painted over/destroyed at CCSU. I don’t know why this is happening and why there appears to be little to no outreach to the artists or to the CCSU community regarding this. As an urban planner I know that buildings have traditionally been the canvas on which art is created and in the modern world there is more than enough canvas to go around. I hope that the university will change course and begin a more public process focused on preserving and enhancing existing murals while creating still more of them on campus and in the wider community.

Alex Broner

Concerned Urban Planner

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To whomever this concerns,

This message will be short and sweet. I’m not a student of your school. I don’t live in your state, know anyone who goes there, have any ties to you, etc. In fact, I’m a 25 year old William Paterson University student who lives in New Jersey, so nothing at all that happens in your school has an impact, either great or small, on my life. But I need you to know that it is absolutely despicable that you would destroy masterpieces like those murals that are painted on the walls of campus buildings. How could you justifiably coverup those pieces of art that took students days, weeks, possibly even months to create? These aren’t people who have time to waste and figured ‘hey, you know, today I just feel like painting something’. These are hard working people, people who probably gave up sleep, and meals, and social time just to share something beautiful with the rest of the student body. I know it might be hard to understand, not being a struggling college student who juggles way too many things at once just to try to get by in life, but it wasn’t many years ago when I was one of them, and my heart absolutely breaks when I think that their beautiful pieces of passion are going to be destroyed for whatever reason. These murals are an extension of the artists’ hearts, a glimpse into their minds, a mark left on people’s lives, and with just a wave of a hand, you’re going to wipe that all away? For what? Another plain, boring white wall that makes the school feel more like a prison? Because that’s what most students feel when they’re stuck in school for 4, 5, 6 years. In all honesty, in my 5 years of school, I wish I had art like this look at as I walked to my dreaded classes, because then at least I would have a glimmer of hope that I’d be able to succeed in doing my passion like these students did. I would be motivated to work with whatever my god-given talent was, whether it be music, or writing, or just going out and motivating others.

Before you ask, and if you’re even still reading this, no, I am not some poor, starving artist holding an art degree, trying to crusade for my painting peers. I hold a psychology degree, and my passion is music, so I truly am not doing this in the interest of myself. I’m writing this for those artists, and for those future students that you are robbing. How is anyone supposed to strive to do their best when you’re showing them all of their hard work can be erased in an instant and forgotten? Think about that.


Casi Magazino

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President Miller,

I seriously hope that the post I saw on Facebook, about the destruction of the murals at CCSU, is untrue. To destroy those murals, without the the permission or vote of the student body is completely unethical and frankly leaves a foul taste in my mouth. I am graduating this year and am ashamed to represent CCSU as a graduate because of this.

I seriously hope that you cancel the scheduled destruction of these mural and find a way to make amends with the students you’ve offended by destroying their art.

Christopher Rosenberg

* * * * *

Hello Jack,

As an engineering student spending many many hours in Copernicus I very much enjoy the murals you are currently destroying. Without them bringing wonderful colors to the halls of our buildings I feel we will be losing some of the personality of the buildings and they will be transformed into something very bland and terribly sterile feeling. Some most of the buildings these works of art are in are let’s face it quite old, they bring a much needed dose of modern color and style.

That’s just my opinion to keep our campus engaging and something to be proud of.

I also feel this decision is terribly offensive to the artists who spent large amounts of their personal time to improve the campus which you apparently rule over.

I hope you do not just delete this email, or the others you get regarding this message, and take some time to actually re-evaluate your decision.

Thank you

* * * * *

To an administrator of change (but not for the better),

In an age of shrinking budgets why on earth would someone spend good money to paint over a wall which was already decorated with the art created by your community? People PAY for this. The student body and your supporting community put sweat and tears into this work – and you squandered it for the sake of a white or pastel green wall. And for what in its place?!? Shame on you for destroying dreams and removing public art.

Don’t bother asking your students to be creative – and don’t forget to raise tuition again in order to cover the cost of all this paint, as well as your executive bonus.

You went out of your way to remove the work of your students and should be ashamed. I hope the student body and your administration hold you accountable for this senseless and self defeating act of artistic and cultural sabotage.

Good day to you,

Steve Yanicke

* * * * *

Dear Jack,

I work at NYU. Just today, I met with two art students to discuss a mural project I was offering. In asking what kind of work they’d done that would prepare them for doing my mural, one of them told me about the many murals he had done, including one in his former high school. I suddenly remembered a conversation I was having with some Facebook friends with whom I went to high school. A friend had recently died and in relaying a story about him, someone commented about a mural in our high school. Suddenly, we were all seering the mural in our minds’ eye. Forty years later. Mind you, back then I thought it was a pretty cheesy mural. (It was a posterization of Clint Eastwood from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”) But it was an image that stuck with us and brought us all back together, was part of the fabric of our high school experience.

So I have to ask: What up with destroying your school’s murals?

Is it because someone doesn’t like them? There was rioting in the streets of Paris when Stravinsky’s magnificent Rite of Spring was first performed. People don’t have to like art – good or bad art, it doesn’t matter.

Murals become part of the setting, part of the fabric. They’re nice to have around. They break up the day. Add dimension. Act as landmarks. Aren’t dull. Become old friends (or even enemies – they get a reaction!).

I implore you and your team to let the murals stay. What harm are they doing counter to the fun and interest they bring to the lives of your school’s students?

Druanne Dillon

* * * * *

Dear President Miller,

I am a proud second generation alumni and current graduate student of Central Connecticut State University. A major source of this pride are the beautiful murals that surround our campus. It is always the last aspect of the campus that I show to the many visitors I have brought to campus because I feel it is the best. Not only is the artwork itself breathtaking, but it is also rich in meaning. I feel that the creation of uncensored artwork in the campus allows for a unique chronicling of current events not seen anywhere else. Even though I am not an art student, the murals are something that my fellow classmates and I are proud of and have spent many hours admiring and discussing. I have learned from these murals that it is important to be informed about the world around us and to stand up for what you believe in. I strongly believe that if these murals were to be taken away, it would be a great injustice to the entire Central family: past, present, and future.

Thank you,

Catherine Ingraham

* * * * *

President Miller,

I read that your administration is destroying many of the beautiful murals painted by students and staff on your campus? Why? What ends are served by the destruction of public art? This makes no sense to me.

Elizabeth Evans McNabb

Poet and Teacher

* * * * *

Dear Mr. Miller:

I have just read about the utterly appalling destruction and planned removal of the CCSU murals. The destruction of these powerful works of art can only be the work of philistines. There can be no justification for such an action.

My son and daughter-in-law attended CCSU, so I have some connection to the institution. I am speechless with anger and sadness.

I urge you to stop this wanton destruction of works given from the heart of students who have attended the university. These gifts have given CCSU a unique place in the art world – and the senseless destruction of these images brings to mind the mindless, horrible destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban.


Jakki Garlans

* * * * *

Dear President Miller,

I write to you, not as a CCSU student, but as a concerned artist originally from Bristol, now living in Boston, with close friends within, and close ties to the CCSU community. Having learned of the systematic, pointless, disgraceful destruction of legitimate artwork in your university, I couldn’t sleep without expressing my disgust directly to you. Art is expressive and creative. It cultivates deeply human emotions that are otherwise stifled in the world we live in today. We are human. We are not mechanical. We are not robots. Without art, we are nothing.

If this had been an effort to rid your school of vandalism, I would understand. If this had been an effort to provide a more simplistic learning environment, I would be more understanding. The blatant disregard for artists and their work by actively destroying it is inexcusable, unacceptable, and infuriatingly offensive. When you arrange for murals on canvas to be painted over rather than removed, you have crossed into territory that opens you up to the uproar that I hope you are facing now.

I wish no ill on you, because you are ignorant. I wish no harm on you, because you are not worth it. I wish for you to know, without a shadow of a doubt, you are exactly what is wrong with the world.


Corey Gaudreau

* * * * *

What on earth is going on?

Why are these murals being destroyed?

Please stop the destruction. Please conserve them

Martin G. Evans

Professor Emeritus, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

* * * * *

Mr. Miller;

It deeply saddened me to hear about the destruction of the student murals at CCSU. I am unsure as to what the goal is of their destruction. I can only imagine it is to make things more uniform, coordinated, and streamline.

To me, these words translate to “sterile, common, and institutional.”

Many of the murals painted were done when I was there as an undergraduate. One of them was painted by a dear friend of mine. It has brought me a continued sense of connection with the university.

Regardless from my personal nostalgia for the murals, the reality is that their destruction symbolizes the universities stance on what it means to be an individual, and whether or not there is space for such individuality. It tells me the university does not support the celebration of student work, nor the individual expression of its students.

The murals brought color and brightness even on dreary days at school. Copernicus is a dark building with no character, and the murals brought life to it. They were thought provoking, and the wide variety of styles and themes made them appealing and accessible to all.

I sincerely hope you change your mind for the future of whatever murals remain. I can’t support a university that would demolish student art for the sake of appearances.

Emily (Bantell) Kubena

Class of 2008

Graduated Cum Laude – School of Sociology, Minor in Mathematics

* * * * *

Bad decision through the eyes of alumni. Rethink this quickly.

Kris Hoffman

* * * * *

Hello President Miller,

I am an alum of CCSU, having graduated in 2012 with my B.S. in Music Education.

It has come to my attention that many murals around the CCSU campus are, or are going to be destroyed. I would like to strongly urge you to rethink this. As an alumni, I found the murals around campus to be enlightening and thought provoking as I went about my day, and a nice break from my inner monologue. I think they are not only beneficial to the students and teachers at the university, but also a welcome display of talent and depth to visitors.

I really hope that the murals will be kept, and that you rethink the decision to get rid of these beautiful expressions of art.


Theresa Degan

* * * * *

I wanted to voice my objection to the destruction of the murals on campus. I am not a student there, but I have visited the campus in recent years and was thrilled to see so much art- from parking garages to entry ways and common halls, it was inspiring. I saw nothing of controversy in the pictures of the murals that were posted by Mike Alewitz and even if the art was controversial, there may be more good to come from something that provokes thought and emotion than from a sterile, blank wall. After all, isn’t art meant to evoke some emotion? The arts at that campus should be celebrated and not destroyed. I am disappointed to hear this news.

Jonathan Steinen

Custom Carpenters

* * * * *

I’m glad to see that the CCSU administration takes the opinion of students into account before making any stupid decisions. Then again.. you’ve done an admirable job with the whole Ravi Shankar thing. I’m glad someone is on the ball up there.

Oh wait. The administration waited until classes were over. No students, no opinions necessary? Bravo. I’m sure you had no idea this was going on either.

If the administration has no qualms about vandalizing public property, why should the students have any respect? Many of the buildings on campus have an endearing bunker-like quality, indicative of the eras they were designed in, and the murals shed some color into their drab recesses. These were not only something that added to our experience of being on campus, but were also heartfelt expressions of both students and faculty.

The Arts@CCSU. Too funny.

I’m sad that I have to call myself an alumnus as of the 17th,

James Patton

* * * * *

Dear Pres. Miller,

While I understand your job is not an easy one, I cannot condone your action to eliminate the murals. They are part of the identity of the campus and help to make it a more beautiful and attractive place. Part of the reason I chose CCSU was because I felt the murals gave it a more distinct identity when compared to the other universities I looked at.With the information presented I feel the destruction of these pieces of art is something undesirable and harmful to the CCSU student community.

Regardless of the circumstances, I wish you a pleasant summer.

Joshua Pfohl

CCSU Student

* * * * *

Dear Mr. Miller,

I recently became acquainted with your decision to destroy public murals at CCSU. Being an artist myself, I know that your students and faculty worked very hard and with great pride & satisfaction to bring their insights and creativity into the campus environment. You disrespect them, their work and every person who interacts with their work when you remove or destroy their murals, especially if done without input from or consultation with the art department.

Cut it out.

Sierra Zweig

Everett, Washington, USA

* * * * *

Hello President Miller:

I am a 1998 alumni and this article was forwarded to me from many other alums. I do have to say, that I am heart-broken and concerned that the University would take such actions in regards to these murals.

What happened to CCSU being an open place of expression and part of the ‘community’? As noted in the article, many of these murals were done by students and teachers. That’s right, teachers. If I remember correctly, CCSU boasts one of the finest programs to prepare teachers…same on you and the administration for this short-sided act.

I am sure the alumni and current students and faculty would like some explanation. Also, did you have to tap into the budget to have these removed? Perhaps hire a painting company, or was it done by the maintenance department during ‘regular’ hours?



Concerned 1998 graduate

* * * * *

I started an elegant, passive-aggressive protest letter that would be a proper reflection of the high quality education that I received at central as an Undergrad.

Then I figured, why bother being respectful when some CCSU administration is destroying art in a disrespectful manner. LEAVE THE MURALS BE.

Do I like Alewitz? No. I think he is a pushy tool who encourages students to paint politically instead of what they feel. (( I know you are reading this too Alewitz- but that is my stance.)) Regardless of his personality, he HAS had students young and old, produce real and substantial art that MUST stay up.

You, or the committee who has decided to remove the art are wrong. Leave the art alone.

I hope to return to CCSU as a Master’s student one day and I certainly hope that art will be there.

P.S. My Social Security Info was stolen from this institute a few years back. i hope you tightened the security since then.

Brianna Dunlap

* * * * *

I am emailing to ask you to please reconsider your decision to remove these murals from the academic buildings. They are beautiful pieces of art that students have put months of their time into in order to express ideas very meaningful to them. Seeing them has always brightened my day walking to class, adding creativity and color an otherwise stark environment. Knowing that all of these 18 murals have already been removed, or will be removed, is extremely disappointing. Myself and many other students will greatly miss them.

Thank you for your consideration,

Katharine Hesse

* * * * *

President Miller,

I am writing in protest to the destruction of murals on the CCSU campus. The murals around campus serve as beautiful representations of our campus culture and the knowledge and skills that students have acquired while studying at CCSU. These works of art should be celebrated, not destroyed.

I do understand that certain facilities renovations must occur, and that some works must be removed over time. However, it is entirely unacceptable that the destruction of these pieces would occur without notifying the Art Department, or the artists themselves. If you, President Miller, worked on a project for several weeks, you would not want someone destroying your work without allowing you even a few days to take a picture of it. Furthermore, a clear explanation of the reasons behind destroying the works should have been provided as a sign of respect to the artists who worked so hard to create them.

The students at CCSU are proud, hardworking individuals–but, by permitting this destruction, the university has successfully disrespected the artists, and for that matter, the entire student body. Even those who did not create murals will see this as a sign that the university does not demonstrate pride in its students’ achievements. So then how are we supposed to walk proudly across the stage during commencement on Saturday, knowing that the university–to whom we’ve given countless dollars and hours–has no respect for any of the work we’ve achieved?


Cherilyn Bonin

Senior Resident Assistant

Seth North Hall

* * * * *

Mr. Miller,

I’m not a student at your school, I’m not actually affiliated in any way, but I was very upset upon hearing the news about the destruction of your murals. Although I understand that renovations and social changes can cause art to become damaged or even simply out of date, the work that was removed or destroyed seemed to be a varied collection of beautiful paintings made by dedicated and proud artists. Whatever reason you have for the destruction of these works cannot possibly justify such a large scale act of censorship, ignorance, or cruelty, so I hope that you will at least attempt to remedy the situation.


Kyle Haines

* * * * *

Dear Mr. Miller,

I am shocked to read that the murals on the CCSU campus are being removed without notice to the artist or university community. As an alumni I am outraged that this unique artwork that beautified the campus is being destroyed without thought or compassion. You should be ashamed and I hope this process will be stopped immediately!


Ruth Ennis

* * * * *

Greetings Dr. Miller,

I am writing in regards to the mural removal controversy. As the sibling of one of the artists I am disappointed to hear students were not consulted in the removal process. I look at each of these murals and think what a uniquely talented group of artists CCSU has on its grounds.

I realize there is likely a rational reason behind the removal, perhaps these spaces are needed for the next crop of artists to have a space for expression. But this should have been clearly communicated with the artists.

Timing and lack of information, such as the decision to wait until after students had left for the term and the lack of foreknowledge provided to them, often give the perception of mal-intent. That may not have been the case here but it has come across that way.

An apology and a halting of the mural removal so as to give the artists time to hold a final visit with their creation would likely be well received by the students.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Stephanie Dinnen-Reini, M.S

Grant & Donor Manager

Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County

* * * * *

President Miller and To whomever it may concern:

It has come to my attention that murals, specifically in Copernicus were scheduled to be destroyed. I was told that you were the person we should contact of the distruction of the murals.

As a student, I believe that these students’ hard work (whether it should be new or old students) should be kept and chesired for years and years. Students do find a hard way of expressing themselves and although many of their works may be controversial, so may be the words someone says. Just because it is a different medium doesn’t mean that it should be taken for granted and go as far to destroy it. I have seen many works on campus that has personally offended me but I do not want it destroyed mearily because I can not understand the message the artist was trying to convey. As a student of the university I take classes, internships, and do projects/papers to practice my major. If painting art, and exposing their feelings and opinions, on the walls of our campus is how they want to express themselves then shall be it. I really do hope that you allow these paintings to stay up unless there will be replacement of other murals in it’s place. Nobody likes to look at blank walls and I think these murals give our campus a little jazz!

I hope you can take my email into consideration,

Danielle McCormick

Carroll Hall President

Program Director of C.A.N

Psychology Major

Central Connecticut State University

* * * * *

Dr. Miller,

I am writing to you to give my input on the destruction of the murals around campus. I trust you will take the time to read my email, as well as the many others I’m sure you will get regarding this disturbing news. It is, after all, your job as the president of this University to facilitate and make decisions that are in the best interest of the student body as well as the faculty and staff.

Today, I represent three different types of people:

A full-time matriculated student

A student senator

An artist

As any full-time college student can vouch, school is stressful, demanding, time consuming, and rewarding. Being able to see the beautiful pieces of artwork that my fellow students, peers, and colleagues have created allows me to admire their hard work every day that I’m lucky enough to walk by them. The murals have deeper meanings. They challenge the mind to ponder what the artists’ intentions were, and what influence they have on a student.

As a senator on the Student Government Association, and an active member of the SGA’s Student Life Committee, the wellness of students is my top priority. The murals bring a certain lively quality and color to our campus, which does much more than contribute to esthetic appeal. Students actually enjoy looking at these murals. They find the beauty in them and appreciate the hard work that went into creating them and the beauty that they add to our campus.

As an artist, I feel insulted. I know that students spent hours upon hours visualizing, planning, drawing, and painting. I will avoid being redundant to remind you of the hard work that artists put into their creations.

As for the “policy” that you have mentioned in every single response email thus far, the terms seem to be inconsistent with the process taking place. If the murals are to be painted over every couple of years so that students may paint new ones, it seems to be common sense that the professor facilitating the process would have been notified PRIOR to making the decision to “deconstruct” the murals. As it stands, the professor was not notified at an appropriate time.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I trust this issue will be resolved in a way that is in the best interest of the students and the art department.


Delaney Cassidy

Central Connecticut State University

Student Government Association

At-Large Senator

* * * * *

Hello Mr. Miller-

My name is Lisa Simiola and I was previously a student at CCSU. The first floor of Willard Hall is the home of one of my most prized possessions, my beloved mural that I spend almost 100 hours on. I was there night and day along with hundreds of others to finish not just an assignment, but to accomplish something that I am so passionate about. We use artwork to express ourselves because sometimes it’s the only way we know how. This isn’t just painting over a wall, this is destroying someone’s life story, their feelings and emotions. Please end this horrific act. CCSU holds the most incredible collection of murals that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Mike Alewitz is more than an artist who teaches at Central, he is a giver. He has given us the gift of knowledge and an opportunity that is impossible to find anywhere else. My heart is broken for the artists whose murals were destroyed. This is our life. Please do not take this way of expression away from us. It’s all we have.

Thank you for your time,

Lisa Tiffany Simiola

* * * * *

Dear President Miller,

My name is Aurora Matraku and I recently completed my freshman year at CCSU. For as long as I could remember, I’ve always known I wanted to be an art teacher and pass on my love for art. I had heard wonderful things about the art program at Central and it’s because of that amazing art department that I am now a student of CCSU studying Art Education.

I am very proud of how important art is to my college and I’m also extremely influenced by the artwork always surrounding us at Central. I just heard about the removal of some of this artwork and I wanted to express how saddened I am to hear that work I considered amazing will no longer be there when I return in the fall.

I, too, recently completed a mural at CCSU, and from the point of view of a student and an artist of these murals I can assure you that we take great pride in our work. To us these murals are very important and do more than just beautify our campus. We have a chance to express ourselves and demonstrate what we find important as well as learn a lot along the way.

I know I personally have learned a lot from my experience in my mural painting class that went beyond just techniques of how to paint a mural. I had an amazing opportunity to get a lot of feedback before and during the painting of my mural. I learned a lot from the few professors who expressed their negative feelings about the mural (which I really did appreciate as much as the positive) , and also from the many students who told me how much they appreciated my mural and how much it meant to them.

I heard many amazing stories about debates in classrooms about my mural, and the positive feedback from students at CCSU that are also veterans was overwhelming. I take great pride in my mural and I’m glad it means something to so many people. I spent many hours painting, pulled multiple all nighters on the third floor of Willard, sometimes in a row, and even took days of work and came in during a holiday and worked on my painting. It was truly one of the best experiences of my life and I loved every minute of it despite some comments thrown my way by some professors as I painted.

I know my mural was somewhat controversial but to me it was simply how I envisioned an idea I consider important in the time I live in. I understand the process I went through to put my thoughts into a painting and I’m sure all the artists of the many murals being destroyed went through a similar process. I am aware of the agreement that a mural can be up for a certain amount of time before it is removed but I consider myself very lucky to be able to see all those murals that so greatly inspired me before they were gone. I think it is unfortunate that future students will not be able to.

I understand that with all the controversy created it is easier to just agree to get rid of these murals but as someone who went through the great process of painting a mural, I just wanted to let you know that they mean a lot more to us than you may think. I am not sure why they need to be taken down. I found every one of them beautiful and meaningful and I hope all of those artists are not too disheartened by your decision to destroy the artwork. I know you probably have heard a lot from other people so I just wanted to give you my point of view as a student and an artist.

Aurora Matraku