CELIA, an Ohio Center of Excellence for Collaborative Education, Leadership and Innovation in the Arts, was founded by Dean Charles Taylor and chairs of the arts departments of the Wright State University College of Liberal Arts in late 2008 in response to a request from the University System of Ohio (USO) which invited public and private universities in the state to submit selected programs for “Center of Excellence” designation.  Following this, particularly outstanding programs were nominated by their institutions for further consideration as possible “statewide” centers. 

Following presentation to the President and Provost of the University, CELIA was designated a Wright State Center of Excellence in early 2009, and Dr. Hank Dahlman, Professor of Music, was appointed the founding Director in May of that year.  Thanks to the  strong support of the President, Provost, and the WSU Board of Trustees, CELIA was named an Ohio Center of Excellence in October, 2011, one of three arts related centers in the state.

In 2011, CELIA introduced its first grant program for arts faculty working in collaboration with significant external or internal partners.  Maximum awards are for $2,500 for one academic year, and are funded on an ad hoc basis.  Presently, there has been one award made, in April 2012.

In 2012, CELIA introduced two exciting new initiatives, the Distinguished Visiting Artist Program, and the CELIA Fellows Program.  Starting in 2013, the Distinguished Visiting Artist Program brings nationally or internationally known artists on campus for a short-term residency featuring immersive interaction with WSU and area arts students and professionals, and high level performances and exhibitions.  The residency will include publicly available lectures and master classes on campus, and performances and/or exhibitions sponsored by CELIA and a related arts partner in the region.   Also starting in 2013, the CELIA Fellows Program provides funded research and creative scholarship fellowships to faculty in the arts, humanities and social sciences, with a focus on collaboration and innovation.

Thus, since its inception, CELIA has made important contributions to the quality of life and economy of Wright State University, the Dayton region, the state of Ohio, and indeed, nationally.  As a result, CELIA has collaborated with and/or received significant recognition by such varied organizations and artists as HBO, CPB, Tom Hanks, the Dayton Philharmonic, Human Race Theatre Company, and Maestro Neal Gittleman.  In addition, CELIA has demonstrated significant impact on the state and region, and received recognition for its accomplishments by two Ohio governors, two USO Chancellors, local community and arts leaders and institutions, and the WSU Board of Trustees. 

Special projects and events

The Last Truck

The Last Truck (2009), documentary film produced by Wright State faculty and students in collaboration with Home Box Office and nominated for an Academy Award.


ARTSGALA (annual), joint gala performances and exhibits by faculty and students to raise scholarship funds for arts students, ($1.3 million over 12 years to date).

Holiday in the Heartland

Holidays in the Heartland (annual), holiday music and art production in the Schuster Center, Dayton, involving over 250  participants, including air force personnel, and local arts and educational groups.

August Osage County

August Osage County, (2010)  joint production between TDMP and the Human Race Theatre Company, Dayton.


MASS by Leonard Bernstein (2011), joint production between Music, TDMP, and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and Kettering Children’s Chorus. Budget of over $250, 000 generating  approximately $750,000 in related economic impact in the form of ticket sales, technical and performance employment, and related sales in restaurants and other local entertainment venues.

Localore: Reinvention

Localore: Reinvention (2012), joint production of Wright State film faculty and students, National Public Radio affiliate WYSO of Yellow Springs, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Through interviews and in depth presentations sheds a light on the effects of the Great Recession on area workers.

Ongoing programs

  • Distinguished Visiting Artist Program. (beginning 2013).
  • CELIA Fellows Program (beginning 2013)
  • Music in Medicine Symposium (since 2009)
  • STEAM3:   Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, Music, and Medicine (since 2009).