Details of the new organization
- The School of Fine Arts would become the School of Music, with 51 tenured or tenure-track faculty, and an estimated 325 undergraduates pursuing majors and 197 graduate students. Officials would expect a national search to be conducted for a new dean. An interim dean could be appointed for 2009-10, depending on the timing of the expected plan approval from the regents.
- The new School of the Arts would be headed by an associate dean reporting to Joseph Steinmetz, dean of liberal arts at KU, who would fill the job after conducting an internal search. "We have so much talent across KU," said Steinmetz, "who knows who will emerge?" John Gronbeck-Tedesco, a theatre and film professor and interim dean of fine arts, is a former associate dean of liberal arts.
- The School of the Arts would include the existing Department of Art, the existing Department of Theater and Film, and a new Department of Dance. The school also would include several design programs not going to the School of Architecture: ceramics, metalsmithing and jewelry, scenography, textile design, theater design and visual arts education. The anticipated totals: 55 tenured or tenure-track faculty, 763 undergraduates pursuing majors and 81 graduate students.
- The School of Architecture would welcome interior design, industrial design, visual communications, photomedia, interactive design and design management, with 14 tenured or tenure-track faculty, plus an estimated 318 undergraduates pursuing majors and 15 graduate students. The school's name also would be expected to change, Gaunt said, to reflect the addition of design programs.
Kansas University administrators intend to split up the School of Fine Arts and sprinkle its faculty, staff and students into a focused assemblage of schools, departments and programs.
The plan will be expected to strengthen arts education on campus without requiring additional money, hiring more staff, eliminating any jobs or changing existing students' academic programs.
"I think it's a good opportunity for collaborations to be built, and for us to build up on interdisciplinary studies," said Joseph Steinmetz, dean of liberal arts at KU. "That's where higher education really is headed. And in taking this opportunity for reorganization, it also happens to be budgetarily neutral - which is, in this day and age, a good thing."
The reorganization, announced Tuesday, would create a stand-alone School of Music, and establish a School of the Arts in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The new School of Arts would retain a handful of design programs, while others - including industrial design, interior design and visual communication - would become part of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning.
Oversight of the Lied Center would shift from the School of Fine Arts to the office of Provost Richard Lariviere, in recognition of the center's role as a universitywide asset.
"The arts play a critical role in society, providing enlightenment, education and entertainment," Lariviere said, in a statement. "The way the various artistic fields are studied and practiced at universities is changing, with an increased focus on collaboration and interdisciplinary work.
"The plan we've developed recognizes those changes and ensures KU students will have an opportunity to be part of a vibrant arts community for decades to come."
The changes await approval from the Kansas Board of Regents. KU expects the new structure to be in place by July 1, in time to be operational for the 2009-10 academic year.
The plan comes after KU officials conducted a national search to find a new dean of fine arts, to replace the departing Steve Hedden. That six-month search produced three candidates as finalists, but none were hired.
Lariviere then appointed a task force, and later a committee of deans, to examine the future of fine arts at KU.
Those efforts led to the reorganization plan, one designed to give strength and autonomy to music programs; infuse art offerings with more connections in liberal arts; and add design programs to an architecture school that is finding varied skills increasingly valuable for students and graduates.
"Architects are designers," said John Gaunt, dean of architecture and chairman of the reorganization committee. "The design programs involve creative people in the design process. That, in and of itself, is strategically a valuable opportunity for our future - how we all work together."
The reorganization plan calls for all faculty and staff in all affected schools, departments and programs to be retained. Students already enrolled in affected degree programs will be able to complete their courses of study.
"This will be imperceptible for students," Gaunt said.