University of Wisconsin administrators are in the early stages of developing a plan for a College of the Arts, which would provide a more cohesive and centralized home for the arts on campus.
According to University Committee Chair Mark Cook, the arts are currently split between the School of Education, the College of Letters and Science and the School of Human Ecology. With the arts spread across multiple schools, Cook said the current structure presents a management problem, as a single dean does not represent the arts in their entirety
In addition to many other benefits, the formation of a College of the Arts would address this issue, he said.
“It’s thought that creating a College of the Arts would be much more visible on campus instead of a structure divided through three colleges on campus,” Cook said. “There is not a unified arts structure [at UW] that is driving a core degree in arts.”
Norma Saldivar, executive director of the UW Arts Institute and a theatre professor, said in an email to The Badger Herald the proposal for the college includes the unification of the School of Music, the Art Department, the Dance Department and the Department of Theatre and Drama.
The college would have 110-120 faculty members and would be the sixth largest college at UW, Cook said.
Saldivar said the college would have a student body of approximately 1,100.
A unified college would bring faculty, students, staff and curriculum closer together in order to reduce barriers and increase opportunities for connection and innovation, Saldivar said.
Cook added having a central and unified College of the Arts would also have financial implications for the university’s programs as it would likely increase the philanthropic and grant funds used to support arts on campus.
According to Saldivar, however, such a proposal is not new to UW and has been in discussion since the establishment of the UW Arts Consortium in 1976.
She said the consortium recommended a formal administrative structure for the arts to be developed, which ultimately to formation of the Arts Institute in 1988.
Although efforts to improve coordination and advocacy for the arts on campus have been underway for decades, Saldivar said recent talks to expedite the proposal began in a 2008-2009 strategic planning meeting and was formally established in 2011.
A project charter was approved for a “College of the Arts Proposal,” with Interim Chancellor David Ward as executive sponsor in November 2011, Saldivar said.
The administration encouraged the committee to move forward in developing a proposal to be submitted to the faculty for discussion, she added.
Saldivar said this strategic plan received widespread support for a unified college among faculty, students and staff. She said additional discussions and town meetings also brought greater focus and potential to the college’s design and benefits.
The increased visibility of the arts to a larger campus body would be a great benefit for the college and an asset to its students, Cook added. He said a unified college would provide a firm foundation and a strong presence and visibility for the arts on campus.
“This will have an impact on all levels of opportunities for students that are presently studying on the campus and those with eyes to UW-Madison as a potential place to study art or have access to opportunities in the arts,” Saldivar said.
There is not yet an expected deadline for the proposal to form a College of the Arts, Cook said. He also said the University Committee has yet to finish the draft they will send to the University Academic Planning Council, the body which will vote on the creation of the college.
The creation of the college would also have to be approved by the UW System Board of Regents, Cook said.
However, he said the University Committee hopes to present the proposal and their recommendations to Faculty Senate in April, although the body will not formally vote on the plan.