Dear SA+AH Community,
Happy New Year and welcome back. This semester will mark the completion of my third year as director. To mark this milestone, I have used this letter to reflect, to highlight and make visible a few of our accomplishments, and to share some gratitude for the hard work contributed toward these successes.
WE ARE GROWING OUR COMMUNITY AND OUR IMPACT
In last fall’s newsletter I welcomed seven new faculty into our school. I hope you can see that they are already having an impact. They are setting in, offering new courses, asking questions and finding ways to contribute in both large and small ways. Their voices are joining ours as the school participates in the college-wide strategic planning process – a process that will be used to guide decision making for the foreseeable future. And we are grateful they are here.
Especially now that our student population is also growing. We are not becoming a larger school, but rather restoring our optimal enrollments from past years and turning around the declining enrollment we experienced three years ago. I am happy to share that for the second year in a row we have seen significant increases in both the number of people applying to the SA+AH as well as the number of students we are enrolling in our undergraduate programs. This is significant not only because it maintains the vitality of our programs, but also because it provides compelling data that art and design are viable and relevant fields of study. The demand for our programs means that we are successfully articulating how art, design and their scholarship produces the skills and knowledge that future leaders need to contribute to society. Thank you for your help spreading the word that the University of Florida is a great place to study art, design and its’ histories.
We have also been working hard to grow our program offerings and expand our impact. We have opened two new undergraduate certificate programs, one in art education and one in graphic design. And I am thrilled to share the news that ,in response to increased student interest, we will be doubling the number of students who will be accepted into our Graphic Design BFA program, effective this year. This strategic growth will preserve the strength of the program while increasing its influence.
We are also growing our community beyond the campus. Over the past years, we have worked hard to improve our alumni connections, strengthening the attendance at annual alumni events as well as adding alumni events. For the past two years we have held an alumni reception in Miami Beach during Art Basel. This year we were able to add a graduate student pop-up exhibition to this reception. We have strengthened our collaborations with the Harn, the exhibition, “Accumulate, Classify, Preserve, Display“ on the archive and work of artist Roberto Obregón at University Gallery and the Harn Museum of Art is one of the first examples of this, but look for more to come. Our faculty are engaged in projects with the city and the region in ways too numerous to list here, but look for mentions of these accomplishments in past and future newsletters. All of this work grows our reputation, our influence and our impact.
WE ARE LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Truly one of the most significant accomplishments is the completion of two major curricular overhauls. The art studio faculty have been working hard for the past two years to redesign both the BFA in Art and the BA in Art degrees. They have created what promises to be an agile and forward-thinking curricular model that brings both programs together in meaningful ways while preserving the flexibility of the BA in Art and the depth and rigor of the BFA in Art. These changes strengthen both programs and will help create a stronger community within our school. I am grateful to my colleagues that took on this gargantuan task on and came out with something so elegant and promising.
Spring semester always includes many culminating events and exhibitions. The spring schedule begins with The Harn Eminent Scholar Program on January 23 with a Panel Discussion: "Artist as Researcher: Visualizing Knowledge in the Americas with Esther Gabara, Jennifer Josten, Sérgio Martins, 6 p.m. in the Chandler Auditorium at the Harn Museum of Art. This panel discussion is presented in conjunction with the exhibitions “Accumulate, Classify, Preserve, Display“ on the archive and work of artist Roberto Obregón at University Gallery and the Harn Museum of Art that runs through February 14, 2020. The Visiting Artist Lecture Series begins with Julien Bismuth on January 16 at 6 pm. And this year we are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Museum Studies graduate program. To mark this event, the museum studies faculty have arranged a symposium that will take place on the UF campus February 16-18, 2020. As always, I hope to see you at these events.
Again, welcome back and best wishes for a productive semester. As always, I am glad you’re here.