Letter to the Editor: Arts, Education and Sports at Centralia College


This is in response to the commentary on Oct. 29 by Dr. Bob Mohrbacher, president of Centralia College, on sports. 

I am not anti-sports; I enjoy them and participated in them all happily in my younger years.

But here, let’s get past the glitz and glitter of new facilities of campus enhancement. Let us concentrate a bit on the educational or human value that lies within Centralia College. 

What is in these multi-million-dollar facilities that make us a more highly educated or aware people?

Sports are primarily a youth-oriented program. A college athlete, or a professional athlete, has a short run at best. A professional in almost any other area has pretty much a lifetime run. Yes, sports stresses physical fitness and promotes teamwork and give-and-take. However, education toward a lifetime goal goes much deeper into a person’s lifespan. These skills may lead to lifetime employment and fulfillment. Human skills, as well, including the arts, writing, communication and music, enhance us forever. The area of humanities provides a higher level or existence and awareness and will provide a positive enhancement for a lifetime.

We all will be the better for it. 

In my 60-plus years of artistic practice and teaching, I have witnessed the arts relegated to a low to unimportant offering, even eliminated. This is pretty much the case at Centralia College. It is not to say that the fine instructors at the college don’t do the best they can do with what they have — they do. My sympathy is with them. The millions and millions of dollars spent on enhancing the college campus have not added to the arts or humanities much at all. 

Why is this?

The college has no well thought-out vision or plan for a fine arts building of facility. This is particularly true in the 3-D art area. No in-depth, accredited offerings in pottery, sculpture or jewelry creation are available. How very sad. Shouldn’t interested students learn what it takes to bring these skills into reality? Wouldn’t a little of the millions of dollars spent elsewhere help bring this to fruition?

Years ago, while teaching at Wenatchee Valley College, we rivaled the offerings at Central Washington University. They still do today, for that matter. With advanced programs we turned out several professional potters, sculptors and painters, as well as future teachers. The same could be true at Centralia College if there were funds and administrative interest. I was told, though, by an administrator from the college a few years ago that I wouldn’t see any of this on campus in my lifetime. Question: Will we ever see that at Centralia College?

Sports are, and can be, a great experience for a few with the ability and youth to do so. Beyond that, let us put things in the proper perspective.


James Stafford

Professional Artist and Educator