A city that didn’t rise to real national prominence until after World War II, Miami is now one of the 50 most populous cities in the country and the Miami metropolitan area is one of the 10 most populous metro area in the country. As the city’s population has risen, so has its relevance and influence nationally. It may not have been on the scene for as long as cities like Chicago and New York and Boston, but in the last 50-60 years, the city of Miami and, more generally, South Florida, has developed into a major international, financial, and cultural center. It’s the culture and artistic diversity that we won’t to focus on, because Miami’s status as a hub for immigration from places like Haiti and Cuba make it one of the most artistically and culturally diverse city in the country. Simply put, it is a terrific city for aspiring artists interested in careers in art. But while the musical and artistic profile of the city are relatively well-known, many of the cities’ most talented artists were products of the area’s bustling array of higher education institutions. The city is full of excellent schools for higher learning and with those prestigious universities come some of the most accomplished and experienced art professors anywhere. We understand that it is hardly fair to focus on just 15 professors because there are so many good ones, but for the sake of sanity, we had to keep the list relatively short, so enjoy.
John Manzelli, Theatre Professor, Barry University
It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to tell your friends that your new theatre professor is best-known for choreographing fights, but that is exactly what students who take Manzelli’s class can brag about. After receiving training in stage combat from the National Stage Combat Workshop, Manzelli became an acclaimed fight choreographer, working not only as the in-house choreographer for a number of professional theatres but also teaching the art at Illinois State and the New World School of The Arts. A Barry alumnus, Manzelli got his Bachelor’s degree in Theatre/Political Science from Barry before getting his Master’s degree from Illinois State’s well-known Actor Training Program. He has performed and worked all across the South Florida theatre scene, taught at a number of universities, appeared in a handful of stage and film productions, and even currently works as an Associate Artistic Director for a well-received stage company. In addition to his jaw-dropping experience and credentials, he has a knack for inspiring his acting students, who all rave about his teaching style and willingness to help. He really works to keep his students involved and engaged with the coursework and genuinely wants to see all of his students succeed, making him a no-brainer for a list like this.
“I am very fortunate to work at Barry University and to be inspired by the remarkable diversity of young people who come here to start their journey as artists.” – John Manzelli
Carlos Gallostra, Visual Arts Professor, New World School of the Arts
One of the most unique schools in the country, The New World School of the Arts was something of an experiment in Dual-Enrollment Education. The school is both a high school and a college that offers Bachelor’s degrees, Associate’s degrees, and even high school degrees. Of course, Carlos Gallostra knows all about this by now. A Miami native and graduate alumnus from the school, Gallostra has been teaching at the school for nearly a decade and is part of the reason why the school has risen in prominence so quickly. Gallostra got his Bachelor’s degree in Electronic Media from NWSA and then picked up two graduate degrees from The Pratt Institute of New York, one in Fine Arts and the other in History of Art and Design. His education chops are unquestioned, but he also has experience working as a graphic designer for a local television station and his work as a painter and illustrator has been displayed all across South Florida and the country. Gallostra teaches Classical Drawing and Painting as well as Digital Media classes and his students have high praise for his knowledge of the subject and attention to detail. They also love the individual attention he pays to each of his students and they really enjoy how hands-on his class exercises are. It is not often that schools are able to find faculty members with Gallostra’s combination of education, experience, and teaching acumen, so NWSA should consider themselves quite lucky.
“The New World School of the Arts is in short a whole other world, where art lives and the lives of artists are greatly enriched by the faculty, staff, and students alike. As an alumnus and instructor, I am profoundly fortunate to be a part of the NWSA family and take delight in sharing this honor with them. Engaging with others, imparting ideas, and shaping the next generation of artists and scholars is truly one of the most noteworthy adventures and I am very lucky to be a part of it.” – Carlos Gallostra
Mariah Fox Hausman, Graphic Design Professor, The University of Miami
The city of Miami may have dozens of great universities, but if we are being honest, they all fall under the wide shadow cast by The University of Miami. The University is one of the best research institutions in the country but also is home to a number of excellent art degree programs, including graphic design, where Mariah Fox Hausman is a key member of the faculty. Hausman credits growing up in an art-inclined household for her passion and also said she has been drawing and illustrating since she was just 4 years old. Hausman attended the Kansas City Art Institute before graduating from the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s degree in Illustration & Graphic Design. Once she graduated, Hausman gathered a wealth of design experience working as an art director and illustrator for local firms and then founded her own company right after the turn of the century. Now she has a Master’s degree in Multimedia from Miami, a number of awards for her work, and her work has been exhibited across the country. Students don’t get a free pass in her classes, but they admit that her teaching of technical details and extensive knowledge of the subject helped make them better artists.
“As an educator, there is no better satisfaction than watching students learn. Having them consider my classroom influential and developmental in their paths as artists is a most rewarding accomplishment. Thank you for including me, and the University of Miami’s Art Department in this noteworthy list!” – Mariah Fox Hausman
Jesus Lopgil, Multimedia Professor, Broward College
Broward College is one of the better known community colleges in Florida and Lopgil is nothing short of a rock star faculty member. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Television and a Master’s degree in Educational Communications from New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts and now serves as a jack-of-all-trades for Broward. Not only does he program multimedia text, graphics, and video but he also teaches a variety of classes and according to students’ reviews, he does it quite well. Students have come to enjoy his distinct sense of humor and laidback attitude. But don’t mistake his easygoing nature for a lack of interest in the classes he teaches. Students also say that Lopgil has high expectations and pushes students to increase their workload. But they also said that they appreciated the push and that along with the push, Lopgil works side-by-side with the students to make sure they are successful even with an increased workload.
Barbara Watts, Art History Professor, Florida International University
Art History professors are usually extremely well-educated and that’s not by accident. Art History is less about being artistically skilled and more about being passionate enough about the arts to gather a strong knowledge base. But even in a profession full of well-educated folks, Watts stands out. She has an undergraduate degree in Renaissance Area Studies from The Catholic University of America and spent time studying abroad at Loyola University’s Rome Center. She also attended graduate school in Art History at the University of Virginia and did dissertation research for that program in some of the richest cultural cities in Europe. Her area of expertise centers on the Italian Renaissance and her work and research has been published in leading industry journals. She is considered an expert on the subject and was used as a source for a BBC documentary on the famous Dante’s Divine Comedy. Now she teaches a variety of courses at FIU where she has been the recipient of more than one teaching award and students back up her skills in the classroom. They say she has a gift for making even the driest lectures interesting and that her knowledge of the subject material is astonishing. Perhaps most importantly, her passion for the subject material is unmatched, so students should get used to seeing her in the faculty directory for years to come.
Sylvester Polk, Music Technology Professor, Bethune-Cookman University
Bethune-Cookman University is a short drive North of Miami and it is widely considered one of the finest historically black universities in the country, let alone South Florida. Accomplished and experienced faculty members such as Sylvester Polk certainly don’t hurt that reputation. Polk has an undergraduate degree from Florida A&M and three years later got a graduate degree from the University of Central Florida. Now he owns a production and recording studio which produces music for everything from video games to commercials, and he also works with a number of local and nationally recognized vocal artists. He is a particularly technically skilled producer who understands music hardware and software better than most, which is why he is now the coordinator of music technology at Bethune-Cookman and teaches courses in music production. Students have labeled him “old school” and you can tell they mean it as a compliment. His sharp wit and bright personality make lectures interesting and his deep understanding of music production techniques and history make him a great mentor for young producers to learn from. Plus, he seems dedicated to making sure students in his class learn and succeed, which is all you can really ask from a professor with an extremely busy and confusing schedule.
Elana Lanczi, Dance Professor, Nova Southeastern University
Those in the South Florida dance community are most likely familiar with Lanczi who has been teaching and honing her craft across the area for quite some time now. During that time she has built a reputation as a tough teacher who demands a lot from students and expects students to match her passion. But she also earned the reputation as a master motivator and detail-oriented teacher who not only gets students excited about dance but also tirelessly works to turn them into better dancers. Armed with a Bachelor’s degree from George Washington University and a Master’s degree from Temple University, Lanczi focuses on choreography, improvisational dance forms, and modern dance technique in her classes. And she teaches a wide variety of classes including Dance History and Jazz Dance. She has been teaching at community colleges in the area before moving north to Fort Lauderdale, and I bet Nova Southeastern is glad that she did, because her credentials and qualifications are unassailable.
Mario F. Ortega, Architecture Professor, Miami Dade College
Everything you need to know about the teaching chops of Mario Ortega is that Miami Dade College doesn’t offer a formal degree in architecture and yet Ortega’s architecture classes are easily some of the most popular at the school. In fact, Ortega is practically an institution at the point at Miami Dade College. The native of Cuba has been teaching at MDC for nearly two decades and has a pair of Master’s degrees, one in architecture and one in architectural pedagogy. He is not only an incredibly popular and successful teacher who has won a slew of awards for his teaching and instruction, he is also an incredibly accomplished and experienced architect with a wealth of experience working on award-winning projects across the globe. The list of honors and awards that have been bestowed on Ortega are much too long to list so instead we will just point out that while students call him one of the toughest and most demanding professors they have ever had, almost all of them also call him their favorite professor ever in the same breath. His classes are demanding because he wants his students to succeed and students who have graduated from his courses have gone on to some of the best architecture schools in the world.
“An architect’s passion is to create meaningful space to be experienced throughout history by all mankind…. The special calling of an architecture professor is to instill the valuable knowledge and importance of what is involved to create meaningful space in our built environment.” – Mario F. Ortega
Heather Diack, Art History Professor, The University of Miami
As one of the best fine arts schools in the country, we would be remiss if we didn’t include at least one more professor from the University of Miami and Diack is exactly the type of professor deserving of more recognition. An assistant professor of Art History, Diack graduated from the Art History program at McGill University, continued her studies at a program through the Whitney Museum of American Art, and then went on to get her PhD from the University of Toronto in 2010. She is the recipient of multiple grants and fellowships for her research and work and has been an accomplished photography and art critic for some time now. In the midst of teaching Modern and Contemporary Art as well as the History of Photography at Miami, Diack is also finishing up a book on photography. Her students don’t just like her, they love her. They call her “one of the nicest professors” they have ever had and say “she always wants to help whenever she can”, which is especially nice with a subject like Art History. If the students recognize her unique blend of knowledge, experience, and teaching talent, then that is good enough for us.
Mark Sparacio, Fine Arts Professor, Digital Media Arts College
The Digital Media Arts College should be thanking their lucky stars that Sparacio is so loyal, because occasionally teachers with his combination of skills and experience are working at the most elite and prestigious institutions. That isn’t meant as a slight to DMAC, which has plenty of prestige of its own, it’s just not normal to see a professor so accomplished working in relative anonymity. Sparacio is something of a comic book legend. He started his interest in comic books as a young teen, used that as motivation to propel him to a degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and quickly began soaking up information from the immortal Will Eisner. After a brief foray into advertising, Sparacio rejoined the world of comic book illustration, where he worked on projects for Marvel and other companies. Now Sparacio runs his own business while teaching expressive drawing, storyboarding process, and figure art at DMAC. Students appreciate his robust knowledge of the industry and also enjoy his constant sunny disposition, which make his classes far more interesting.
“Thank you for including me among this elite group of teachers in Miami. I am truly honored, humbled and flattered. As for my teaching, I feel I was very lucky to get the great education I received at the School of Visual Arts and I am thrilled to be able to help shape and positively influence the careers of the students at Digital Media Arts College here in Boca Raton.” – Mark Sparacio
Marcela Moyano, Communication Arts Professor, St. Thomas University
A native of Colombia, Moyano has spent so much time in South Florida she counts as an adopted daughter at this point. Moyano is a two-time alumnus from St. Thomas University as she has a Bachelor’s degree and a doctoral degree in Electronic Media from the University, both of which are sandwiched around a Master’s degree in Communication Arts from nearby Barry University. After a brief stint in public relations, Moyano became an instructor at St. Thomas in 1996 and hasn’t looked back. Since then, she has taught classes in blog design, broadcast production, media ethics and many more. Most recently she became the Director of the Institute of Communication, Entertainment and Media at the University. She is also an accomplished filmmaker who played a big role in the production and creation of a documentary about sustainable development in Haiti. Students say she is very patient and friendly and that she also is more than willing to share her wealth of experiences and connections with interested students.
“I am honored to receive this significant recognition as an educator. My work in the classroom consists of developing ethical and creative human beings able to produce media that can contribute to the wellbeing of humanity. My inspiration is to see young students who transform while making media that matters.” – Marcela Moyano
Nicole Beltran, Graphic Design Professor, Barry University
Although she has been a member of the faculty at Barry for less than five years, Nicole Beltran has made a name for herself in the university’s small Fine Arts department primarily because her students seems to love her teaching style. Students not only feel that Beltran is instantly relatable, but they also appreciate her respect for each student’s abilities and her clear passion for watching her students succeed. Her knowledge of the subject material helps students learn a lot from her and her creative thinking means that classes are not all cut from the same cloth. As a graphic designer, Beltran isn’t a slouch either. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising and PR from the University of Central Florida and has a Master’s degree in Graphic Design from nearby Florida Atlantic University. She has worked on projects for companies like Carnival Cruise Lines and RE/MAX Realty and used to be employed as the art director for Solomon Snow Advertising. She has also done work for the city of Hollywood Beach and Whole Foods. She currently teaches both graphic design and web design and her classes are becoming fan favorites at Barry.
“Making a connection to a student is key. Once that is made, the lines of communication open up and the learning truly begins. It also helps to be part of a strong and supportive team, which is exactly what I have at Barry University. Thank you Art Career Project for this amazing recognition.” – Nicky Beltran
Stefanie Powers, Journalism Professor, Lynn University
The program chair for Lynn University’s small but growing multimedia journalism program, Stefanie Powers is working right in her wheel house. She not only has two degrees, a Bachelor’s from Florida Atlantic University and a Master’s from Lynn, but she also has an impressive list of previous employers in the world of journalism. She has worked as a staff writer for places like Boca Raton News and Forum Publishing Group and then moved on to the world of public relations where she worked until 2004, when she took a job coordinating academic projects for Lynn. She rose from adjunct faculty member to her current position and that is because her hard work and effort and also her students’ rave reviews of her teaching ability. They not only can see that her investment in their success is very real, but they say her enthusiasm and endless willingness to help her students make class not only fun but an excellent learning experience. Teachers can stay in the same position for years and Powers’ quick rise through the ranks is a great example of just how serious and important the profession of teaching is to her.
“First and foremost, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to be recognized for my efforts as an educator in academia—and among such esteemed peers. Providing students with an individualized, innovative and quality education is not only one of my passions; I believe these qualities are essential for all learners. Working at Lynn University provides me endless opportunities to create and innovate in the classroom. The institution’s new style of teaching and learning has multiple initiatives, and I am honored to be part of it.” – Stefanie Powers
Henning Haupt, Architecture Professor, Florida Atlantic University
The German-educated Haupt has been a full-time member of the faculty at FAU for almost a decade and he is already making an impression not only because of his long list of credentials but also because his students have taken quite a liking to his classes. Haupt got his first degree from the Technical University Darmstadt and then enrolled in the Architecture program at Cranbrook Academy of Arts where he completed some postgraduate work. Incredibly, his education still wasn’t over as he went and got the equivalent of a PhD from the Technical University at Braunschweig where he studied the relationship between painting, drawing, and architectural design. As an architect, Haupt is self-employed and his work has been exhibited in Germany and South Florida and plenty of places in between. As a teacher, students love his unique approach to architectural design and say his background as a painter helps them understand the subject material in a different light. They also say he is very nice and very engaging, which makes the occasionally dry architecture work quite enjoyable.
Juliet Pinto, Journalism Professor, Florida International University
Teaching journalism is usually quite a bit more difficult than most journalists can predict. Just because you are an excellent journalist doesn’t mean that you are automatically an excellent teacher of journalism. Luckily for FIU, Pinto has seemingly made the transition without any problems. Perhaps what’s most interesting about Pinto’s career is that she didn’t start her college education as a journalism major. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Boston University and a Master’s degree in Marine Affairs and Policy at the University of Miami, Pinto got her PhD in Communication from the University of Miami and her journalism career was underway. As you might expect given her background, Dr. Pinto studies environmental communication in Spanish- and English-language media. She has helped create classes in environmental journalism at FIU and is also the driving force behind an acclaimed documentary about the rising sea levels in South Florida that was shown on PBS. Her research on the environment and journalism has been published all over the country. As a professor, Pinto is no slouch either. Her classes are very difficult according to students, but they also say that the rigors of the course forced them to focus and get better as journalists. They also say, that despite her demanding coursework, Pinto is a wonderful personality who knows the subject material cold and is always willing to help struggling students.
“I’m passionate about educating tomorrow’s journalists on how to responsibly and professionally report on the issue of their lives: climate change and its impacts.” – Juliet Pinto