Art professor brings worldly views
Posted Oct. 6, 2006
Maria Villalpando
A native of Wales, Jon Leaver earned his Ph.D. in art history from the University of Bristol in England. His interest in the field began when his father took art history classes. He came to the University of La Verne from a position as visiting assistant professor at Loyola Marymount University.

The University of La Verne’s art department is proud to boast a new addition to its staff. With his calm, intelligent and friendly personality, Jon Leaver should be a professor that students will come to love.

“I have been teaching in the U.K. and here in the States for five years,” Leaver said. “I was attracted to ULV by the intimate community feeling, and by the quality of the faculty.”

Originally from the United Kingdom, Leaver grew up in Wales.

He then studied art history at the University of Bristol in England before moving to London to study for his master’s degree at the Courtauld Institute, which is part of the University in London.

After receiving his master’s degree, Leaver returned to the University of Bristol to study for his art history doctorate, then began his teaching career at the University.

He moved to California when he got married and has since taught at Otis College of Art and Design in both the undergraduate and graduate programs and at Loyola Marymount University.

Leaver said he had been in the education field for a short time and that he came to La Verne for its small, familiar atmosphere and the faculty’s sterling reputation.

 Ruth Trotter, professor and chairwoman for the department of art and art history, selected Leaver from a wide range of possible candidates for his experience and background.

“We did a search of candidates with Ph.D degrees in art history and previous teaching experience to fill this position,” Trotter said. “After several rounds of interviews and meetings with potential candidates, we decided that Dr. Leaver stood out as having the experience and background that would make a good fit with the department.”

Trotter also said Leaver’s responsibilities as an assistant professor of art included teaching and overseeing the art history program.

“Dr. Leaver is an assistant professor of art, tenure track and program chair for the art history major,” she said. “He is responsible for a full teaching load and scholarly research, as well as overseeing the art history program.”

Dion Johnson, art department manager, said he had not yet had the opportunity to get to know Leaver very well, but that he expected great things from him.

“Just (last) Monday I participated in a panel discussion with him,” Johnson said. “While talents and capabilities are still being revealed to me, I can say his approach is insightful and unique, combining both a traditional analytical approach with a distinct awareness of contemporary art.”

Leaver said he enjoyed helping students explore one of the richest and most fundamental of human activities. He said studying art helps people to think about some of the big questions of life and enriches everyone’s day-to-day experience of the world around them.

“It puts us in touch with other people on a very intimate level and reveals possibilities that we would never otherwise conceive of,” Leaver said. “Uncovering these ideas with students, revealing this vast and beautiful realm of ideas is a deeply rewarding experience.”

Leaver also said his specialty was French art from the 1800s and that he hoped to accomplish great things at La Verne.

“My particular area of interest is art of 19th century France, particularly the paintings of Manet and his colleague Baudelaire and the contemporary art of Los Angeles as well as the critical theory surrounding,” Leaver said.

“I’d like to teach a course in the near future on art and city experience; how living in a metropolis has affected artists throughout history and the different ways they respond to it,” he added. “I would also want to carry on the tradition of great teaching and research here in the art department.”

With his ambition, background and knowledge, Leaver is a perfect addition to the art department’s faculty.

Trotter said she looked forward to having him on board.

“Dr. Leaver brings a high level of both teaching and scholarship skills to the department,” she said. “He is an exciting scholar with a bright future and an enthusiastic teacher who will inspire our students toward the world of ideas through art, history and culture.”

Lilia Cabello can be reached at lcabello@ulv.edu.



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