THECB nixes eight fine arts courses from core

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The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has removed seven art courses and one dance course from the core curriculum for fall 2014.

The Coordinating Board notified the district March 5 when it approved a revision of this college’s core objectives. The revision included the addition of EDUC 1300, Learning Framework.

Students who are not art majors following the new 2014 catalog will no longer be able to use these courses to satisfy the creative arts component of the core, designated as (050).

The courses are ARTS 1316, Drawing 1; ARTS 2316, Painting 1; ARTS 2326 Sculpture 1; ARTS 2341, Art Metals 1; ARTS 2346, Ceramics 1; ARTS 2348, Digital Art 1; ARTS 2356, Photography 1 (fine arts emphasis); and DANC 1301, Dance Composition.

The Coordinating Board decided these courses did not meet the description of the foundational component area, according to an information sheet.

Instead, lecture-based courses such as ARTS 1301, Art Appreciation; and ARTS 1303 and 1304, Art History 1 and 2, will be offered for non-art majors seeking to fill the creative arts portion of their degree plan, fine arts Chair Jeff Hunt said today.

“I think (the Coordinating Board) is uneducated. I think when they look at studio art classes, there is this disconnect,” he said.

Hunt said the Coordinating Board communicated they did not want performance-based courses in the core curriculum.

“They don’t understand that there is a certain number of hours in a course that are application, but there is also at a percentage – 50 percent-60 percent of the class – where it’s lecture. It’s discussion-oriented where you’re learning foundations for each one of these mediums,” Hunt said.

Hunt said he thinks the revision could affect the courses faculty will teach beginning in the fall.

“I think potentially more faculty will be teaching art appreciation. I think we have a good balance of faculty that can teach lecture and studio courses,” Hunt said.

“I’m hoping it doesn’t mean we have to let go of some of our adjuncts. That’s my hopeful answer. My pessimistic answer is it means I’ll have to let adjunct professors go. There won’t be enough sections for them.”

Professors from the fine arts program are not happy with the changes being made to the curriculum.

“College is supposed to provide students with a broader variety of education,” fine arts Professor Rebecca Dietz said. “These courses establish peer groups within the classroom.”

She said performance-based courses encourage people to stop and look at other people’s cultures and interests to try to understand them.

“There is no reason why it should not be there,” Dietz said.

“A lot of people don’t really know how smart they are until they’ve seen how smart they are visually,” fine arts Professor Susan Witta-Kemph said. “That gives them confidence in their other classes when they recognize their own intelligence.”

“I think that’s something that happens many times in a drawing class or painting class that doesn’t happen in art appreciation,” Witta-Kemph said.

In conjunction with Witta-Kemph’s statement, fine arts Professor Thomas Willome said, “In other words, the Coordinating Board is visually illiterate.”

“They want to kill the art department. They don’t see the arts in general as important,” fine arts Adjunct Salvador Torres said. “If these people, (such as Chancellor Bruce Leslie), had been around in the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci would not have had a job. The arts would have collapsed because there would have been no support for them.”

The chancellor has been at odds with faculty over replacing one of two humanities courses in the college core with EDUC 1300, Learning Framework.

Faculty opinions were brought to the attention of Dr. Conrad Krueger, dean of arts and sciences, who suggested faculty should appeal the changes if they do not agree with them.

“They would have to petition. They’d have to see if there is an appeals process,” Krueger said. “Basically, they can go through the Curriculum Committee to find that out.”

Dr. Vernell Walker, dean of professional and technical education and chair of the College Curriculum Committee, said, “In regards to how it will affect the department, I think it will decrease enrollment. If courses are taken out of a core – and you’re working on completing a core – if you saw the courses were not in there, you wouldn’t register for them.”

Students also do not agree with the recent changes to the curriculum.

“This is probably a downgrade,” graphic design sophomore Ethan Segovia said. “Those are hands-on classes. Lectures will probably be harder for students to grasp an understanding.”

“I feel like it will probably impact me down the road, where they’ll probably take these courses from me because everyone else doesn’t need them,” said Jennifer Ramoz, computer-aided drafting and design sophomore.

“Then I won’t have the option of taking certain classes.”

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