Honoring 122 years of extraordinary teaching Ben Cameron, Ed Collings and Tom Watson

Larson Gallery
Three legendary art instructors will retire in May: Ben Cameron, Ed Collings and Tom Watson. To celebrate their legacy and extraordinary service to the college, the trio will be honored with a reception at 4:30 p.m. on April 20 in the Sidney Larson Gallery, Brown Hall, as part of Reunion Weekend.
Cumulatively, the three instructors have been inspiring students, fellow artists and faculty members for an incredible 122 years. Such dedication is rare, but so are these three individuals:

Ben Cameron

Ben Cameron
  • Joined the college in 1974
  • Specialized in teaching painting, drawing and etching
  • Established the annual Paper in Particular show 35 years ago
  • Director of the Sidney Larson Gallery
  • Bachelor’s degree, St. Louis University, costume and scenic design; master’s in painting, University of Iowa; Master of Fine Arts (MFA), University of Cincinnati
  • Also taught at the University of Cincinnati and Stephens College
  • Plans: To teach one class per semester, help run the Sidney Larson Gallery through 2013
  • Quote: “I don’t train them [undergraduate art students] for grad school. I train them for living.”

Ed Collings

Ed Collings
  • Joined the college in 1969, college’s current longest serving instructor
  • Specialized in teaching photography and ceramics
  • Established Columbia College photography program, filmmaking program
  • Bachelor's degree in art education, master’s in ceramics, MFA in photography, all from the University of Missouri
  • Built a log cabin in Arrow Rock, Mo., used as a ceramics studio and sales gallery
  • Late wife Lauren attended; daughter Jessica and son Jonathan ’12 also graduated from Columbia College
  • Plans: To be a fulltime artist and teach online
  • Quote: “I wanted to teach a high caliber of students who had a great appreciation of art … I think I’ve given them a good start here.”

Tom Watson

Tom Watson
  • Second most senior instructor, joined in 1971
  • Has taught jewelry, painting, ceramics, digital media – everything except graphic design and photography
  • Basketball scholarship, Harding College, Searcy, Ark., earned bachelor's degree in painting; MFA in metals, University of Missouri
  • Watson’s father worked in maintenance at the college, persuaded Sid Larson (long-time Art Department instructor) to talk to Watson hired on the spot
  • Wife, photographer and graphic designer Kimberly ('Kim') Nowak Watson ‘91 and daughter Lee ’07 are graduates; daughter Nikie currently attending and majoring in art
  • Plans: To explore digital media such as 3D and animation, and study U.S. history
  • Quote: “It sure doesn’t feel like 40 years ago. It feels like yesterday.”
Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program have the opportunity to concentrate in ceramics, graphic design, illustration, painting and drawing or photography. Instruction is always personalized and designed to help students prepare for the evolving world of art. For more information on the degree program, go to www.ccis.edu/day/academics/degrees.

The reception is one of many events at the Columbia College Alumni Association and Alumni Relations’ Reunion Weekend 2012. Other not-to-be-missed events include a presentation on current high profile forensics cases by Dr. Cyril Wecht. The weekend is also the 10th anniversary of the Forensic Science program.

The reunion concludes with a re-enactment of the Ivy Chain Ceremony, one of the oldest collegiate traditions in the country, where the class of l962 will be inducted into the 50-Year Club.

Come home to Columbia College the weekend of the 20th, meet old and make new friends, celebrate faithful service and learn something new, too.