Professor of Art History played leading role in building Beloit’s environmental studies program
Jo Ortel, Professor of Art History and holder of the Nystrom Chair in Art History, joined Beloit College in 1997. Her courses on modern contemporary art, Native American art, and environmental art have engaged and inspired students through wide-ranging projects.
During her tenure, she was adept at forming creative interdisciplinary connections, most notably integrating art and art history with environmental studies. She developed and taught two of those cross-disciplinary courses with a focus on specific spaces. Contemporary Art in an Age of Global Warming and Enchanted Spaces both focused on the Powerhouse, Beloit’s student union and recreation center. She taught students about art’s potential to engage with day-to-day environmental challenges through Nature at the Confluence, an urban environmental center in South Beloit. In 2003, she received the Underkofler Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at Beloit.
Professor Ortel played a leading role in the growth of Beloit College’s environmental studies program, particularly in the arts and the humanities. Under her leadership, the program doubled the size of its faculty advisors and multiplied the number of graduates by 10. She attended numerous regional and national conferences to learn new ideas for Beloit and to share some of Beloit’s own best practices. Environmental studies remains one of Beloit’s most robust programs, encompassing five different majors.
Her research and scholarship on contemporary Native American art includes the publication of Woodland Reflections: The Art of Truman Lowe (2004). Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, her book showcases the life and work of the contemporary Ho-Chunk artist. Professor Ortel leaves Beloit College to work on making sure that the art of Truman Lowe is prominently exhibited at some of the leading museums around the country. We cannot be more confident that she will achieve this goal.
In honor of her dedicated service, and as a symbol of our deep appreciation and abiding respect, we welcome Jo Ortel into the honored ranks of Beloit College faculty emeriti.