WMU News

Art department now School of Art, HHS restructured

July 21, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University now has a "school of art."

Acting at its July 16 meeting, the WMU Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the WMU Department of Art to the School of Art to better reflect its role, size, scope and mission within the College of Fine Arts.

The name change is in keeping with the names used at similar institutions belonging to the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the accrediting body for the WMU Department of Art. The department is a charter member in good standing with the association and has been so since 1970.

Of the 240 active member institutions in NASAD, 34 are from publicly supported institutions of a similar size, scope and stature as WMU. Of those, 84 percent are identified as having "schools of art." They include the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Penn State University, the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, Florida State University and the University of Illinois. In the Mid-American Conference, those schools include Bowling Green State University, Northern Illinois University, Ohio University, Kent State University and the University of Akron.

NASAD does not mandate such name changes, but the WMU Department of Art's name has been a recurring question posed by the association and many other outside evaluators over the past 10 years. The new name also is in keeping with the name of WMU's School of Music, since the art department, like the music school, offers distinct degrees in different discipline areas. In the case of the art department, those areas are art studio and graphic design, art history, and art education.

The name change will not have an immediate impact on resources, but will make it easier for the school to generate an identity on campus, within the community and outside the local area. Art school administrators and faculty say this will have an impact on awareness and fund-raising success, while also better serving students and alumni as they progress in their careers.

In related action, the board voted to restructure the WMU School of Community Health Services by deleting its name and reconfiguring its programs. There will be no loss of faculty or staff as a result of the reorganization, and no additional resources will be required to carry out the move. Both faculty and staff within the former school support the plan, as do the college's curriculum committee, the faculty senate executive board and the University president and provost.

The school, in its current arrangement, does not fully meet the definition of a "school" as described by University policy, while coordination of the school by administrators in the College of Health and Human Services dean's office has been burdensome and awkward.

Trustees voted to delete the school as an entity and establish an alternative administrative structure to house its programs and curricula. Faculty in each program--SPADA (Specialty Program in Alcohol and Drug Abuse), gerontology, holistic health care, employee assistance, interdisciplinary health services and interdisciplinary health studies--will assume faculty positions in established departments within the college. All current staff members will be retained, although their work assignments may be altered.

All program offices will remain in their current locations in Ellsworth Hall until the college's new building is ready for occupancy in fall 2005. The restructuring will have no impact on students and students will notice few, if any, changes as a result.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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