June 30, 2016
For 20 years, Anna Cottos has worked behind the scenes at CIA, primarily on projects and services in Academic Affairs. But she has always been on the front lines, too, working on convocation, commencement, scholarships and accreditation.
Anna started at CIA after working at Greenlee-Hess, run by CIA faculty members Roy Hess and Hugh Greenlee. She grew up in South Euclid and moved to Mayfield Heights when she married in 1985. Son Kyle, 27, is an electrical engineer. Daughter Kelly, 24, is in the Doctor of Chiropractic program at Life University in Atlanta.
As she departs CIA for a new life in Florida, Anna agreed to take one last look back by way of Q&A.
How art-oriented were you when you started working at CIA, and has that changed?
Not oriented then, and maybe a little more now since I took “Drawing for the Absolutely Terrified” through Continuing Education. I recommend it highly. It gives a real perspective of what our students do day in and day out.
What’s your favorite CIA memory? (OK, you can name more than one if you want.)
First and foremost: the completion of the campus unification. Realizing during the Prism event parade [in 2015] from the old Gund building to the new campus that we really were going to be in one building.
My other favorite memories and annual events: last day of the spring semester, commencement, first day of the fall semester, BFA reviews and the announcement of the President’s Traveling Scholarships, open houses, convocation, National Donut Appreciation Day, realizing in 2011 that my new boss (Chris Whittey) had an amazing sense of humor.
What’s the one thing that might still surprise people to learn about you?
I’m inherently an introvert.
What’s your favorite thing to do on your off-hours?
Going to a championship parade! But really: Happy hour with my colleagues, working out, hanging out with my family and friends. I also enjoy working in the yard and garden, which I have really missed this year.
As a member of the CIA staff, have you had many opportunities to interact with students?
This past spring of 2016, I was asked to play the part of a teacher in a video for Leah Yochman’s BFA, which was a very last minute request, so I had no time to be nervous.
Although my interactions with students have not been formal, I know that they are always appreciative and grateful when someone assists them, or just to say hi in the hallway. I think they are inherently afraid of staff and faculty, so you have to do what you can to help them overcome that fear. I always remind them that we are here for them and that’s why work here.
What will you miss most about CIA?
No doubt, the people! The staff and faculty are so dedicated to this crazy place. They are passionate and professional in every way. If I find half of the good-heartedness of my current colleagues in my next job, I would be very lucky.
And the excitement of University Circle’s rebirth.
OK, and Mitchell’s Ice Cream being 50 steps away.
What are you hoping as you prepare to move to Florida?
I’m hoping I made the right decision — giving up a job I absolutely love in a place I absolutely love. But mostly, I know I won’t regret moving to Florida. I would only regret it later if I didn’t try. I’ll feel more confident when the snow starts flying in Cleveland and I’m headed to the beach.
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