Inaugural director brings vision and passion to George Family Center for Healing Arts of Rowan University

Inaugural director brings vision and passion to George Family Center for Healing Arts of Rowan University

Morgan Yacoe

From inspiring creativity to building critical thinking skills, art can be enlightening and transformative.

Rowan University’s new George Family Center for Healing Arts was founded on the premise that art can also be physically and emotionally restorative.

The center, created through a partnership between retired Woodbury physician Dr. James E. George and the Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts (Edelman CCCA), will foster wellness and growth through expressive arts that heal and inspire.

Starting this month as inaugural director, Morgan Yacoe believes the center will also serve as an important teaching resource and a vehicle for personal development, on and off campus.

“The George Center was founded as a means to provide artistic experiences for patients, students, visitors, caregivers, and staff by promoting health and wellness through the arts. It will also provide many of our students opportunities to develop observational skills and empathy through art,” said Yacoe, a medical artist, educator and researcher who came to Rowan from a research and teaching position with the University of Florida.

“We’ll focus on ways to give patients, healthcare providers and their families access to the healing power of the arts,” Yacoe said.

That healing power made an especially big impact on George following an accident in his home. George served for decades as an emergency medicine physician in Woodbury until the 2016 accident left him paralyzed. Recovering during a six-month stay at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, he reacquired partial use of his limbs and developed a love of painting.

Creating nearly every day since, he’s completed more than 5,000 works and was so deeply impacted by his healing arts experience that he donated $1 million to launch the Center for Healing Arts so others may benefit too.

He helped fund the center to bring his love of art to others: “As a physician and abstract artist, I believe in the power of art to heal. And I’m confident that the Center, under Yacoe’s direction, will bring people together and create meaningful change in the world.”

Dr. Sanford Tweedie, dean of Edelman CCCA, said he expects the center to have tremendous impact well beyond Rowan’s borders.

“We know, based on Dr. George’s experience and that of so many other patients, that creating art can be life-changing,” Tweedie said. “Through the George Family Center and Morgan Yacoe’s leadership, Rowan students and professionals will bring such healing arts to South Jersey health care settings, including our two medical schools and through our health care partners.”