Faculty proposes to cut studio art minor to improve class availability

Studio art majors struggling to get into required classes may be at ease because of a proposal to eliminate the studio art minor. This proposal is intended to strengthen the arts program by catering to the needs of majors and making studio art classes more available to students.”In the spring ’10 semester, of 76 sophomore studio art majors, only 20 got into 100-level classes,” art department Chair Bill McDowell said.Currently, UVM has 428 studio art minors and 294 majors, which makes for a lot of competition over the same required classes, McDowell said.”It’s a very serious problem,” McDowell said, “when majors can’t fulfill their requirements because they couldn’t get into the classes they need.”If approved by the Provost Office and the Board of Trustees, this proposal would phase out the studio art minor over the next four years, while still honoring all current declared minors.”The art department is not shrinking,” McDowell said. “This is a positive thing because we are enhancing the major.”If this proposal passes, there would be “more classes available for non-art majors,” McDowell said, “including for students in the other colleges.”As it is, only students in the College of Arts and Sciences can declare a studio art minor.”Trying to get the classes I need has always been trouble,” Sophomore studio art major Lora Miller said. “If this makes it easier, then I’m all for it.”Studio art classes generally have 10-15 people, Miller said.  “I wouldn’t want to make the classes bigger and risk losing that interaction with the professor,” she said.Sophomore studio art minor Hannah Rosenberg said she feels it is important to have a studio art minor available.  “I wanted something on my degree to recognize my experience in the studio arts,” Rosenberg said, “especially when I devote all those credit hours.” “For people who are serious,” Rosenberg said, “art takes a lot of time and a lot of work.” Popularity among studio arts classes has led to a phenomenon McDowell called “phantom minors,” or students who declare an arts minor just to get into art classes.”We’ve been trying to come up with a way to better address the needs of the major for several years,” McDowell said. “This solution should provide opportunities for majors to take their classes in a timely fashion.””The number of students taking art classes won’t change,” McDowell said, “just the quality of the major.”