Dr. Shelley Cordulack is Millikin’s only art historian and art history professor. She teaches a wide range of art history that covers art from the baroque, renaissance, modern, and contemporary periods.
As an art major, her classes have consistently been some of my favorites. She is an excellent teacher and it is obvious to anyone who sits in one of her lectures that she truly loves what she teaches.
Unfortunately, this is her last semester here at Millikin. After teaching here for 41 years, Dr. Cordulack will be retiring. I am sad to see her go, but glad that I had the opportunity to be her student for two years.
Unlike most people, Dr. Cordulack knew what she wanted to do from a young age. She remembers being on a fifth grade field trip to the Yale Art Gallery and seeing the Egyptian exhibit. Being surrounded by that beautiful art, she was so taken by it all that she decided that’s what she wanted to study for the rest of her life.
She told me her parents probably thought their young daughter was odd for having her bedroom walls plastered with art growing up.
After completing her schooling and teaching in Montana for some time, Cordulack moved to Decatur and began her job at Millikin. The joys of the job, included for her, not only the teaching and lecturing, but the watching students progress as they move through her classes.
I asked her if she had any specific memories of students in past years that really stuck out to her and she shared a happy memory with me. A while ago, Cordulack worked one-on-one with a young man who had had a difficult life and was trying his best at college. He was the singularly most grateful student she had taught and really appreciated her as a teacher. Not every student interaction is like that, but Cordulack expressed that she was grateful for all opportunities to get to know her students better.
There was one question that I asked her that she was unable to answer. I wanted to know if she had a favorite work of art, but she said that it was “almost impossible to answer.” She explained that works of art speak to us on such different levels that it makes it incredibly difficult to pick a favorite.
“Colored manuscripts from the gothic period offer a different experience than the insights of Rembrandt or the drawings of DeKooning,” Dr. Cordulack said. “The subtly of Paul Klee creates a different emotional response than the drama of Italian Baroque paintings. It isn’t fair to compare them all because they all have different things to offer.”
For those of you who didn’t have Dr. Cordulack for any of your classes, I hope you now have a better understanding of the type of professor and woman she is. The Millikin community truly was lucky to have her for those forty years and we wish her the best in all of her future endeavors.