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College of Arts & Sciences

The Parsons Center for Art and Science: Up North, near Traverse City, Michigan.

The Jean Noble Parsons Center for the Study of Art and Science is an interdisciplinary, educational center and natural area located in northern Michigan. The Center sits on 86 acres of natural woodland and marsh, with Parsons Lake in the center. The Center is the legacy of the late Jean Parsons, renowned sculptor and potter, and is run by the College of Arts & Sciences with special attention from the School of Art & Design and the departments of Psychology and Biology.

Interested in renting Parsons for your organization or class?

Please email Sandra Murchison at for available dates. Once you have established dates and agreements with Sandra, you may use this link to pay for your stay at Parsons:  pay for Parsons fees. Please complete the appropriate waiver form and rental agreement and return forms to Sandra.

2019 Summer EMU Courses at Parsons: Find Your Course

Credit courses cost the current tuition and fees rate and a program fee (includes lodging). To find out if financial aid can help with housing and transportation costs, contact the Office of Financial Aid at 734.487.0455.

studio interior

Artist/Scholar in Residence

The scholar/artist's role is to complete a project relevant to the mission of Parsons. Projects can include, but are not limited to, research, GIS mapping, manuscripts for publication, artistic productions or curricular development. A public presentation of the project or other means of public engagement is preferred. This unique experience allows the scholar/artist to explore new dimensions in their discipline in a serene and remote environment. Please submit a proposal stating your intended residency and preferred dates at Parsons and send it to  You may review the residency fee structure at: pay for Parsons fees . 

The Oliver Arts Center and Parsons have partnered   together to offer an annual artist in residence.   This residency is sponsored in part by the generosity of Dr. Beth Fitzsimmons.   This residency is intended for a member of the Oliver Arts Center to fully immerse her or himself in making work at Parsons for 2 - 4 weeks each April.  Please scroll down to the bottom of this page for additional information.  You may review the residency fee structure at:  pay for Parsons fees .   Applications are due February 15, 2019.

All interested scholars/artists should contact:

School of Art & Design Director Sandra Murchison,  Professor of Art.
School of Art and Design
117 Ford Hall
Eastern Michigan University


See the artist in residence rental contract.

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One of the things that makes teaching, or taking a course at Parsons a special experience is staying at the Center with your co-instructors and students. Find out more by downloading the information guide: Students [PDF] | Faculty [PDF].

All overnight guests from EMU are required to participate in a rental contract, sign liability waiver forms and abide by general rules of conduct. Read the rental requirements.

About Jean Noble Parsons

Jean Noble Parsons was born in Bridgeport, Conn. in 1929, the only child of George and Mildred Parsons. She attended Florida Southern College where she studied painting under Emilin Etting and illustrated a zoology test manual. She also studied painting, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry and woodcarving at the Tyler School of Fine Art in Philadelphia, Pa. During that time, she worked as one of the earliest art therapists at Temple Hospital.

She earned her bachelor's in commercial art from University of Florida. In addition, she illustrated several medical books. She received her MFA in ceramics with a minor in sculpture from Cranbrook Academy of Art. She served as assistant to internationally-acclaimed Finnish ceramist Maija Grotell.

In 1958, Jean was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and attended Kunsthaandvaerkskolen Copenhagen to be dining hallmentored by the renowned potter, Richard Kjaerdgaard and complete research across Europe. 

Jean was part of the New York advertising and style industry, working as a fashion representative and promoting sales through department store demonstrations and radio and television promotions. She served as a fashion photography coordinator for John Wanamaker and represented U.S. Clothiers at fashion shows in London and Paris, and traveled extensively on their behalf in throughout Europe. She also coordinated and propped for major national and international fashion and commercial accounts while in New York.

In 1962, Jean became a charter faculty member of the Interlochen Arts Academy and chair of the visual arts division. During her 38 years at Interlochen, she provided vision and direction to the department and instructed hundreds of students. Two of her students became presidential scholars, a prestigious national honor recognizing her as an outstanding instructor by The White House. Many of her students have become successful professionals. All have been influenced by her tireless spirit, lofty principles and nurturing guidance. A spiritual person, she had a deep love and reverence for nature and the environment.


How to Get Here

The Parsons Center is at 5833 Bellows Lake Road, Lake Ann, Mich.

From EMU/Ypsilanti (approximately 255 miles)

US-23 north and continue on I-75. Take US-10 west / M-115 west. Turn right (north-west) on M-115 toward Cadillac. Turn right (north) on M-37 (north 13 Road). Turn left (west) onto US-31. Turn right (north) onto Lake Ann Road (CR-665). Turn right (east) on to Nofsger Road. Turn right (south) on to Bellows Lake Road.

From Traverse City (approximately 15 miles)

Take East Front Street west. East Front Street becomes North Long Lake/CR-610. Turn right (west) on to North Long Lake /CR-610. Turn Left (south) on to Bellows Lake Road.

Oliver Art Center / Parsons artist residency 2019


Faculty ResourcesGive to the College of Arts & Sciences

Need Help? Contact us. College of Arts & Sciences, 214 Pray-Harrold, Ypsilanti, MI 48197