Maroon Alumna teaching at Fashion Institute

Andrea Cutlip ’00 models her own teaching style after her Roanoke professors

Imagine getting into a car a few years post-graduation and driving to San Diego with no plan, except wanting to work in the art field. Ambitious? Definitely. Impulsive? Maybe. But with good reason? Just ask Andrea Cutlip '00, who was the one driving that dark green Ford Mustang out to California.

In Cutlip's mind, some success was found immediately, measured simply by the fact that she didn't have to turn around and drive home three months later. It took her about two years to feel established in her new home, but that time was well worth it to this Maroon who now has a job she loves. Well, she has two jobs-not an uncommon thing in California, she explains.

Cutlip works at the University of San Diego in the Office of University Design, which is responsible for the design of the campus, the university's art collection and the galleries. She also is an art history professor at the San Diego campus of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, a college created for students interested in pursuing careers in fashion, with focuses on anything from design to marketing. FIDM graduates include the 2008 winner of the popular television show "Project Runway," and several other students have competed on this show.

Cutlip says the most interesting thing about teaching students in such a distinctive field is how creative they are. "Most of my students are either in the fashion design or the visual communications major," says Cutlip. "The fashion industry is very competitive so what I notice most about my students is that they are spirited, dedicated and eager to be there." Her goal as an art history professor is to teach students how contemporary fashion and visual designers are influenced by the history of art.

Today, Cutlip is happy to be able to say that she is a very passionate and motivated teacher. "I really enjoy what I do," says Cutlip. In her opinion, she learned from the best. She had two significant mentors during her time as a student at Roanoke, Drs. Whitney Leeson and Jane Long. Cutlip models her own teaching style after Long's and still has her notebooks from Western Art II and Baroque Art with Long. Cutlip says that Leeson was not only an academic advisor, but also a friend. "I admire her spirit and approach to life," says Cutlip.

A history major at Roanoke, Cutlip also took several courses in art history, which led her later to getting a graduate degree from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. She studied European history with an emphasis on the Italian Renaissance at UNCW.

Cutlip is extremely thankful for the liberal arts education Roanoke provided, saying she may never have realized her passion for the arts without it. She ended up in her first class with Long because it was a part of the required curriculum for graduation, and she enjoyed it so much that she ended up taking three additional courses with her.

"I would not be doing what I am today if it had not been a required class at Roanoke," says Cutlip. "I never would have been introduced to the field of art history."

Two other experiences Cutlip had at Roanoke still have a strong influence on her life today. Through involvement in Chi Omega and a study abroad program at Oxford University, she says she gained comfort in being an individual and discovered her love of travel and seeing new places. "I think it is because of these experiences that I gained the confidence to be able to go anywhere knowing that I would be confident in meeting people and establishing a career," says Cutlip.

Released: October 8, 2010