SRU to host Mid-America College Art Association Virtual Conference, March 31 to April 2


Heather Hertel

Heather Hertel, Slippery Rock University professor of art, is the president of the Mid-America College Art Association, an organization that is conducting a virtual conference that will be hosted by SRU, March 31 to April 2.

Feb. 17, 2022

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — For the past two years, virtual events have become the new norm due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although transitioning large, in-person events into an online format poses many difficulties, Slippery Rock University is up for that challenge. SRU is hosting the 2022 Mid-America College Art Association Virtual Conference, March 31 to April 2. The MACAA originates from the national College Art Association, a professional society of college and university artist/teachers committed to art, teaching, research and scholarship about the visual arts and humanities.

MACAA's 2022 conference is titled "Defining the Undefined: Art, Education, Technology, and the Mapping of Ourselves." Scholars across a full spectrum of disciplines will share their expertise and perspectives in the form of presentations, papers, panels, performances and posters.

"I am filled with excitement that I could bring MACAA to SRU," said Heather Hertel, an SRU professor of art and MACAA president. "It has been an invigorating process for me to blend my two worlds together."

Hertel, who has been involved with the organization since 2015 and president for the past four years, has led the charge to make a virtual conference not only functional, but successful. Hertel and the rest of her team have spent the last two years adapting the conference's format, as this is the first year it will occur entirely on Zoom.

"There are certain aspects of this conference that are extremely unique and progressive for this very small organization," said Hertel. "The pandemic actually pushed us to make the changes necessary to advance our organization."

MACAA established its own platform using member management software called Wild Apricot, curated a virtual gallery of artwork from students and faculty at La Salle University, and created subcommittees for various conference aspects, such as ones dedicated to registration, diversity and the gallery.

Hertel will also encourage attendees to display their artwork behind them or use the official MACAA and SRU artwork as their Zoom background.

"This is still a professional conference, even though it is virtual," said Hertel. "It is productive to start setting that standard of professionalism, even on Zoom."

Beside La Salle, Hertel has brought together faculty and students from other universities, including the University of California, Berkeley; Ball State University; the University of Virginia;and more.

"It is unfortunate we cannot physically host and welcome people from all over the country to our campus, but we persist onward," Hertel said."The value of learning and connectedness will still occur, regardless if it is on a computer."

The nearly 100 attendants consist of undergraduates, graduate students and faculty members, spanning from instructors to full professors, as well as art historians and retired MACAA board members.

"SRU is filled with support for research and scholarship," said Hertel. "It is great for collaboration ranging across the disciplines, and I am absolutely honored by the support I have received from Dean Dan Bauer, of the College of Liberal Arts, and President (Bill) Behre."

Although the conference is rooted in art, Hertel has expanded it to other disciplines, so every area of SRU is involved.

The SRU professor/alumni presenters are:

  • Eric Charlton, instructor of art.
  • Cassandra Eisenreich, assistant professor of music.
  • Hertel.
  • Jessica Jopp, instructor of English.
  • Jack Livingston, associate professor of geography, geology and environment.
  • Katherine Mickle, associate professor of art.
  • Erin Naggy, assistant professor of occupational therapy.
  • Doris Short, instructor of art.
  • Olivia Tishman, a 2021 graduate from SRU's doctorate of occupational therapy program.

The SRU student presenters are:

  • Andrea Phelps, a sophomore art major from Glenshaw.
  • Ilaria Perry, a senior communication major from Wexford.
  • Maialen Petrissans, a junior art major from Clarion.

President Behre will provide welcoming remarks via video at the start of the conference.

SRU faculty or students interested in attending the conference should contact Hertel at 724.738.2338 or All other attendees can register online.

MEDIA CONTACT: Hillary Twiford | 724.738.4854 |