Faculty & Instructors

  • Visual Arts podcast launches new season challenging ideas of western art

    Image caption: Co-hosts of Unboxing the Canon podcast, Associate Professor Linda Steer, left, and fourth-year Brock student Madeline Collins.

    Originally published FRIDAY, OCTOBER 01, 2021 in The Brock News | by 

    Unboxing the Canon has made its return with the goal of doing a deep, critical dive into the history of western art.

    The second season of the popular podcast from Linda Steer, Brock Associate Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture, is now live with new 20-minute episodes dropping monthly.

    Unboxing the Canon look at issues that are part of the history of western art, examining how those issues played out historically and how they connect to contemporary culture and thinking.

    The first episode dropped Sept. 17 and explores Orientalism and the Western Gaze. Upcoming episodes will address topics such as the representation of disability in western art, an art movement known as Primitivism connected to colonization, and the history of self-portraits, religion and landscape in paintings.

    According to Steer, who teaches first-year Art History, asking hard questions about these topics is important to developing a deeper understanding of the canon.

    “Students are hungry for a critical view of the western canon; they want to deal with the issues and unpack them and understand why they may be problematic,” Steer said. “When examining the long history of western art and its ties to imperialism, for example, we can ask important questions about iconic images that continue to have a tremendous impact on contemporary society.

    Steer says listeners don’t need any prior knowledge of western art to enjoy the podcast. She started the project last year as a way for students in her first-year VISA 1Q99: Introduction to the History of Western Art class to take a break from their screens and do a little extra learning while taking a walk or relaxing at home.

    Now, other instructors at the University and beyond are also using the podcast as a teaching tool. Each episode includes materials for further learning, including resources and websites where listeners can view the works of art being discussed.

    This continued engagement is an aspect of the project that Steer and fourth-year History of Art and Visual Culture student Madeline Collins are passionate about.

    Collins, who joined the podcast this season as a Research Assistant, said that images are not neutral and that there is a lot happening that viewers are not always aware of.

    “There is so much behind what we see. We need to look critically and realize how biased, gendered, racialized and colonized images are at the forefront of our cultural memory,” she said. “It has been a part of the story the whole time, and once you see it, it totally changes your perspective moving forward. That is my favourite part about this podcast.”

    In addition to co-hosting the podcast episodes, Collins is involved in all aspects of production, including conducting research, sound design and working closely with Steer on writing.

    The pair have been working together since July so Collins could learn the sound design and editing software gearing up for the season.

    Excited to be involved in the project, Collins, an avid fan of podcasts herself, said she has already learned so much from the experience.

    “I’ve always been interested in podcasts and the incredible ways in which we can communicate ideas through them, especially for those who learn better through listening,” Collins said. “I have never been a part of anything like this before, particularly learning all about microphones and sound editing, and I am loving the experience.”

    Unboxing the Canon is publicly available on all podcast services, including AppleGooglePodbean and Spotify. For updates and information on future episodes, follow Unboxing the Canon on Instagram and Twitter.

    The transcripts and sound files from each episode of Unboxing the Canon can be found in Brock’s digital repository.

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  • Popular Brock concert series back on stage for 2021-22 season

    Image caption: The Walker String Quartet rehearses on stage at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre for the 2021-22 performance season. Photo by Max Holten-Andersen.

    Originally published FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2021 in The Brock News | by 

    After a year of performing from their homes, musicians featured in Brock University’s RBC Foundation Music@Noon series will return to the stage at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) for the 2021-22 season.

    Although there will be no live audience this fall, performances will be livestreamed for the Brock and wider community to enjoy online.

    Presented by the Music Department at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) and sponsored by the RBC Foundation, the free concert series takes places most Tuesdays at noon throughout the academic year and features the department’s performance faculty, special guests, Brock students and alumni.

    In partnership with the PAC , the Music@Noon season opens Tuesday, Sept. 28 with the musical stylings of the John Sherwood Trio. Featuring John Sherwood on piano, Kieran Overs on bass and Terry Clarke and drums, the trio will delight audiences with selections from the Great American Songbook.

    With concerts booked for most Tuesdays until the holiday season, the fall program will feature faculty performances as well as recitals from Music students later in the year. The livestream concerts can be viewed on the Facebook pages and YouTube channels of the MIWSFPA and PAC, as well as on the PAC website.

    A  return to in-person concerts may be possible in January, depending on Brock University and provincial protocols for COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

    For a full listing of upcoming concerts and to check for live audience updates, please visit the Music@Noon website.

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  • PROJECT: Soundscape, presented by the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, on exhibit September 24

    IMAGE CREDIT: REINHARD REITZENSTEIN

    Music, Noise, and Soundscape: Gayle Young and Ryan Bruce in Conversation

    Created in 2021, Music, Noise, and Soundscape: Gayle Young and Ryan Bruce in Conversation is a virtual project of the Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture homed in the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Brock University. It includes an interview, performances and demonstrations, as well as an outreach activity.

    Gayle Young is a composer and musician based in the Niagara region who creates her own instruments and performs music for them, often employing unusual tunings. She has also performed and recorded works by John Cage and Yoko Ono. Gayle composes works for voice and chamber instruments and creates electronic sound for film and visual art installation. Many of her compositions include environmental sounds recorded through tuned resonators that she invented to integrate harmony and soundscape.

    Gayle wrote The Sackbut Blues, the biography of pioneering electronic instrument inventor Hugh Le Caine (1914-1977), who invented several instruments for electronic music, including the Sackbut, an innovative touch-sensitive keyboard instrument first recorded in 1946. As editor of Musicworks Magazine for over two decades, she presented an inclusive gaze on the world of experimental music.

    Ryan Bruce is an ethnomusicologist, jazz historian and saxophonist. His research concentrates on the transition of jazz styles from the 1950s–1960s (bop and the jazz avant-garde) with investigations in jazz historiography, improvisation, musical analysis, and interdisciplinary comparisons to other avant-garde art forms. His work includes special focus on collaborating with performers to create digital resources for teaching jazz history, improvisation, and world music traditions.

    Ryan holds a PhD in Music from York University and has published articles on jazz criticism, musical analysis, and specific musicians for the current Grove Dictionary of American Music. He is also an active teacher and performer of jazz and free improvisation on saxophone.In 2021, Ryan is teaching STAC 2P93 Critical Practice in the Fine and Performing Arts.

    Experience the ‘Soundscape’ exhibition by visiting the Brock University Digital Scholarship Lab

    Please note the virtual exhibition is best viewed on a laptop or desktop computer. Headphones are recommended.

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  • Brock community members nominated for St. Catharines Arts Awards

    Image caption: Artists and Instructors from Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts Curtis Tye (left) and Barbara Worthy (right) are among the nominees for the 2021 St. Catharines Arts Awards.

    Originally published in The Brock News WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021 | by 

    The City of St. Catharines is gearing up to celebrate the local arts scene and those who champion it — including members of the Brock community.

    Among the City’s recently released nominees for the 2021 St. Catharines Arts Awards are several individuals and one group who are connected to the University.

    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) instructors Curtis Tye and Barbara Worthy were nominated for the Arts in Education Award and Making a Difference Award, respectively.

    Other Brock nominees include alumna and musician Kathryn Sinopoli (BA ’13, BEd ’13), who received the nod for the Emerging Artist Award, and social, economic and environmental justice organization OPIRG Brock and retired Visual Arts faculty member Jean Bridge, who were both nominated for the Making a Difference Award.

    Tye, who has been an Instructor with the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) since 2013, is honoured to be nominated for the second year in a row in for the Arts in Education Award, which celebrates individuals and groups committed to engaging residents through arts education.

    “I have always believed learning through the arts is a collective endeavour — there is no single individual that makes that successful,” he said. “I am someone who helps facilitate group and collective success, and I believe in a common goal for learning.”

    Tye currently teaches DART 2P21 Drama in Education II and DART IP95 Creative Play for Education. Along with teaching and a successful career as a corporate public speaking and leadership coach, Tye also serves as a committee member for Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute.

    Worthy, a MIWSFPA Instructor famous for her energetic class warm-ups and always having her little white dog at her side, has taught in DART since 2006 and teaches at the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture. Currently, Worthy is teaching DART 3P92 Scriptwriting, to students in the Dramatic Arts, English and Creative Writing, Film and GAME programs. An experienced creative producer and writer, Worthy is also thrilled to be a part of the awards celebration.

    A former longtime producer for CBC Toronto and former actor with Shaw Festival, Worthy’s teaching philosophy is informed by her professional career in the arts and a strong belief in the importance of experiential learning.

    “What truly makes a difference to communities everywhere is the power of art, the power of drama and the power of the written word,” Worthy said. “Making a difference to me means providing students with access to the real world, specifically their local communities, where they can truly experience the arts for themselves.”

    The St. Catharines Arts Awards will be presented online Sunday, Nov. 21, livestreamed from the stage of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC).

    “The city’s cultural and artistic community has exploded in recent years — there are so many diverse voices and visions out there,” said Kathleen Powell, the City’s Acting Supervisor of Cultural Services. “These nominees represent some of the best our community has to offer, world-class talents who call St. Catharines home and step up to build a community we can all be proud of.”

    For more information about the arts awards and how to view the celebration, visit the City of St. Catharines website.

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  • Accessibility in music education at centre of upcoming talk

    IMAGE CAPTION: Music educator Erin Parkes will be the first speaker in a virtual series offered by Brock’s Department of Music as part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series.

    Walker Cultural Leader and music educator Erin Parkes will address key questions about providing access to music education to people with exceptionalities in an upcoming online lecture presented by Brock’s Department of Music.

    Held online Friday, Sept. 24 from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m., Parkes will discuss teaching models for students who require a different approach and the benefits of opening up music studios to diverse learners.

    Parkes is Founder and Executive Director of the Lotus Centre for Special Music Education, a charitable organization committed to providing access to music education for people with exceptionalities. She holds a PhD in music education from McGill University, where she researched how to effectively train studio music teachers to work with students with autism.

    This is the first online presentation of a virtual speaker series offered by the Department of Music as part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series. Welcoming musicians, music scholars, and music educators to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts online, these lectures and workshops are free community events and are open to the Brock and wider community.

    Registration is required by emailing music@brocku.ca

    For more information, please visit brocku.ca/music

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  • Visual Arts Prof Donna Szoke’s artwork featured on cover of new publication

    The artwork of Donna Szoke, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, is featured on the cover of a new publication from PUBLIC, an interdisciplinary journal from York University focusing on visual art.

    Entitled Exhibiting Digital Animalities, the publication is edited by Mathew Brower and includes sections from 12 artists, including a chapter on Szoke’s research-creation work drawing on her recent interview with Vanessa Bateman.

    The publication is now available for order online. To learn more about Donna Szoke and her work, please visit her website.

    About Exhibiting Digital Animalities:

    “How has digital technology reshaped our experiences and understandings of animals? Documenting two major international art exhibitions, Exhibiting Digital Animalities demonstrates the significance of contemporary art as a site for rethinking and restating human-animal relations. The twelve curated projects seek to broaden the range of artistic approaches to animals facilitated by digital technologies.

    Furthering the exploration started by the exhibitions, Exhibiting Digital Animalities brings together scholars from a range of disciplines to interview the artists and artist collectives. These probing conversations explore digital technology’s reconfiguration of human-animal relations, making work in response to the Anthropocene, the ethics of animal art, and the affordances of digital technology for art practice.”  (Source from http://www.publicjournal.ca/exhibiting-digital-animalities/)

     

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  • Brock series to address transformation, adaptation in Canadian theatre

    Image caption: Mike Payette (left), Artistic Director of Tarragon Theatre, and Philip Akin (right), former Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre Company, will take the virtual stage on Monday, Sept. 20, reflecting on changes in the Canadian theatre industry as part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series.

    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2021 | by 

    A panel of prominent Black Canadian theatre leaders will explore the industry’s evolving landscape during an upcoming community discussion hosted by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    The webinar, “Black Canadian Theatre Leadership: Embracing Transformation and Adaptation,” takes place Monday, Sept. 20 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and is the first presentation of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series (WCL Series).

    The online event will feature panelists Philip Akin, former Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre Company, and Mike Payette, Artistic Director of Tarragon Theatre, with moderator Luke Reece, Associate Artistic Director of Soulpepper Theatre. Registration is required through the Zoom webinar page.

    The speakers and moderator will reflect on changes in Canadian theatre in recent years, with a focus on the artistic missions of theatre organizations. Discussion points will include how the panelists have approached season planning within existing and evolving organizational missions and how programming can bring in the audiences they intend to cultivate.

    This is the first of three presentations in a new series launched by DART called Transformation and Adaptation in Theatre Pedagogy and Training. The series will run throughout the academic year and is supported by the WCL fund.

    “This fall’s Walker Cultural Leader program follows on from DART’s BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) Speaker Series last year and intends to build on its momentum,” said DART Associate Professor Karen Fricker, who co-organizes the series with DART sessional instructor Carolyn Mackenzie and DART Associate Professor David Vivian. “We are excited to welcome this intergenerational group of Black theatre leaders for our first event. This is an all-star panel.”

    The WCL Series celebrates the legacy and vision of Marilyn I. Walker and her contributions to Brock University’s Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA). Through her generous gift, the four academic programs at the MIWSFPA invite recognized cultural leaders, top researchers, artists, scholars, musicians and theatre professionals to contribute to the intellectual and creative life of the School and the Niagara region.

    To learn more about upcoming WCL Series events, please visit the website.


     

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  • Much work to be done on live theatre’s road to recovery, says Brock prof

    Brock Dramatic Arts graduate Amanda McDonnell (BA ’15), who is part of the front of house team at the Shaw Festival, welcomed audiences back this summer.

    THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2021 | by 

    After 17 months, the live theatrical experience is slowly making its return — but not without challenges ahead, says Brock theatre expert Karen Fricker.

    “Amidst the adversity that live performing arts have been faced with through the pandemic, a wonderful thing has happened this summer: the return of live theatrical performance, because it has been able to be outside,” says the Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Officer in Dramatic Arts (DART), who is an expert in theatre criticism, theatre theory and contemporary theatre.

    The Shaw and Stratford Festivals, two of Ontario’s most celebrated repertory companies, have been staging performances outdoors under canopies (tents with no walls) with mandatory masks for audiences in addition to capacity limits in accordance with provincial guidance. Both festivals are taking audience, artist and staff safety seriously, with COVID-19 protocols in place, says Fricker, who is also a theatre critic for the Toronto Star, writing about performances in the city as well as the Shaw and Stratford Festivals each summer.

    Although these outdoor performances do not come close to hosting the usual number of spectators, Fricker says this is a “big step in the right direction.”

    “Artists are being paid and creativity is happening,” she says, adding that while “innovative digital work has been heroic during the pandemic, experiencing live performances in a shared space is a joyous return.”

    Brock’s Dramatic Arts Department engages with the Shaw Festival in numerous ways, including the annual DART/Shaw internship and course-based experiences with Shaw artists and arts workers. A number of DART students and graduates work at the festival in front of house, producing and administration, and creative capacities.

    Seeing some of those familiar faces at Shaw this summer has been a particular highlight, Fricker says.

    While outdoor performances are a step in the right direction, Fricker says there is still more work to do. There will be limited live, in-person programming in the performing arts sector this fall, mainly due to unclear guidance from the provincial government around reopening, she says.

    In the early summer, the performing arts industry lobbied the government to address live performances in the official stages of reopening. Now that the performing arts have been included, companies have been able to plan. However, “you can’t just lift a theatre production off in a few weeks; you need a runway,” Fricker says.

    Colleen Smith, Executive Director of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) adjacent to Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, says the team at the PAC has experienced these challenges first-hand.

    “Never did any of us whose lives revolve around bringing together artists and audiences believe that we would witness the end of the age-old adage, ‘the show must go on,’” she says. “In fact, the show stopped for months at a time. It’s been an unbelievable period of disruption, heartache and loss of purpose for so many artists and arts workers.”

    Smith says that “buoyed by our partners at the City of St. Catharines and Brock University, as well as the support from our Board of Directors, we have used the first half of 2021 to develop a three-year recovery strategy that will place the PAC firmly within our community as a centre for creative and artistic experiences and learning.”

    The PAC is planning a gradual return, starting with the annual Celebration of Nations gathering, which will be in a hybrid format in September.

    Among the local theatre organizations taking important steps to make innovative work and engage the public in Niagara safely is the young people’s theatre company Carousel Players, which is focusing on new play development in August and September.

    “We are experimenting with a range of forms, including clown, puppetry and mask,” says Artistic Director and Brock graduate Monica Dufault (MA ’11). “We want to offer new pieces that are dynamic and theatrically alive when we meet our audiences again.”

    The company will present an outdoor performance, The Giant Puppet Party, for Culture Days in October, a new digital play for ages 12 to 17 called Meet Chloe starting in November, and a school touring production of The Velveteen Rabbit for ages four to seven in March 2022.

    Suitcase in Point, another St. Catharines-based theatre company, recently announced the launch of a reimagined In the Soil Arts Festival running Friday, Aug. 27 to Saturday, Sept. 25. The festival includes opportunities to see live, original theatre, new music, comedy acts, installations and participatory workshops. All-inclusive festival passes are available for purchase online.

    DART graduate Deanna Jones (BA ’02), the Artistic Director of Suitcase in Point and In the Soil, says the limits of the last 17 months have been a “unique test on our arts organization and the arts community at large.”

    “We knew this 13th edition of our annual In the Soil Arts Festival would be different, and we were determined to find inspired ways to get off of our screens and offer artists and audiences safe ways to connect — in person.”

    During In the Soil, artists from Essential Collective Theatre will be set up on James and St. Paul Street interviewing community members about their pandemic experiences. Working on this initiative are DART graduates Jordine de Guzman (BA ’20), Kristina Ojaperv (BA ’19) and Ren Reid (BA ’20). The project will culminate in the Pandemic Stories Project, a new play to be read at St. Catharines’ Culture Days in early October.

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  • Celebrated Canadian artist Michael Snow’s contribution to Brock revisited in new documentary

    A still image from the new documentary short Timed Images premiering Friday, Aug. 20 at the Mighty Niagara Film Fest. The film was produced and researched by Lesley Bell with video work and direction by Tracy Van Oosten.

    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2021 | The Brock News | by 

    The legacy and impact of artwork created for Brock University in 1972 by internationally regarded Canadian artist Michael Snow has been captured on film and is being premiered Friday, Aug. 20 at a local film festival.

    Part of the Mighty Niagara Film Fest presented by Niagara Artists Centre (NAC), Timed Images is a new documentary that intimately explores two works of public art created by Snow when he was engaged by Brock University and architect Raymond Moriyama during the construction of Brock’s Mackenzie Chown Complex in 1972. Snow holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Brock University received in 1974.

    The short documentary is produced and researched by Lesley Bell, artist and retired support staff for the Department of Visual Arts (VISA) at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), and directed by Brock graduate Tracy Van Oosten (BA ’10), artist, filmmaker and current VISA Instructor at the MIWSFPA.

    Bell, who managed Brock’s Fine Art Collection for 18 years, was drawn to Snow’s work and wanted to uncover the story behind his pieces and appreciate how they found their home in St. Catharines.

    Bell and Van Oosten, a filmmaker and artist who works with text, video and installations and explores moving images within immersive contexts, collaborated to create an artistic documentary that retraces Snow’s innovative art that delighted the University population in 1972.

    “In order to tell the story about these two artworks by Snow, I envisioned a video document. I had no understanding of the process,” Bell said. “With patience and skill, Tracy Van Oosten crafted the information that I found into an intelligent and visually stimulating artistic video work. This has been a satisfying collaboration.”

    Timed Images screens Friday, Aug. 20 at the RiverBrink Art Museum in Queenston, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Doors open at 8 p.m., with the screening scheduled to start at sunset. The documentary is part of an art-inspired program at NAC’s film fest called ‘An Ode to Escarpment School Films.

    For more information about Timed Images and to purchase tickets, visit the Mighty Niagara Film Fest website.

    This project is supported by David Vivian, the Director of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, and Dean Carol Merriam of the Faculty of Humanities, through the Dean’s Discretionary Fund (2020). An installation for the public to view Timed Images at the MIWSFPA and online is currently in development.


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  • Brock will require COVID-19 vaccination for students, staff, faculty to access campus

    THURSDAY, AUGUST 12, 2021 | by The Brock News

    As Brock continues to prepare for a significant return to campus for the Fall 2021 term, the University will require COVID-19 vaccination for all students, faculty, staff and visitors who wish to access campus this fall. This is the latest in several measures the University is taking as part of its ongoing commitment to the health and safety of its community.

    At least a first dose of a Health Canada-approved vaccine will be required by September 7, and a second dose will be required by October 15. Anyone who cannot be vaccinated, based on medical or other grounds recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code, can request an accommodation. Those who have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine on the World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing are deemed to have met this requirement.

    All members of the Brock community returning to campus will be required to attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status and be prepared to furnish proof of vaccination to the University.

    A protocol that includes screening and frequent testing will be established for those who are not vaccinated.

    Brock had previously announced a vaccination requirement for those living in residence as well as for all student-athletes.

    The health and well-being of the Brock community remains the University’s top priority. Vaccination against COVID-19 is, by far, the best way to protect the community against the spread of COVID-19, and to ensure the return to campus this fall is as safe as it can be. Brock encourage everyone who can to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

    Early results of a survey sent to students indicate the vast majority — more than 90 per cent — are already vaccinated against COVID-19 or intend to be by the beginning of the Fall Term.

    We would like to thank our students, faculty, staff and bargaining partners for their support as we continue to plan for a safe return to campus in the fall. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to keep everyone safe and healthy as we begin the Fall Term and into the future.

    Brock has supported Niagara Region Public Health with on-campus public vaccination clinics, continues to engage in an awareness campaign about the importance of getting vaccinated, and provides regular COVID-19 updates on The Brock News and social media.

    The University has put in place a number of measures in preparation for a safe return to campus this fall, including making significant improvements to campus ventilation systems, using a booking system for access to recreational and other space, and increasing student wellness services, including access to a specialized COVID-19 nurse.

    Brock joins a number of post-secondary institutions across Ontario in making COVID-19 vaccination a requirement in order to be present on campus.

    Further details on the implementation of Brock’s vaccination requirements will be made available soon.

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