CAA Announces Guidelines for Addressing Proposed Cuts to Arts and Humanities Programs and Departments
posted by CAA — Nov 12, 2018
By any number of metrics, the arts and humanities are experiencing challenging times. Funding is under threat from the Federal government. Student enrollment is dropping in higher education classes focusing on the arts and humanities. The number of tenure-track faculty positions are diminishing in arts and humanities departments. The wide support of STEM-centered education has placed an emphasis on career paths with measurable and immediate financial outcomes. Yet, we know the importance of an arts and humanities education, not just for those looking to have careers in the arts and humanities but those across the entire professional spectrum.
In response to the challenges in the arts and humanities, some universities and colleges in the United States have cut programs, collapsed libraries, or shuttered entire departments. These steps, taken as cost-saving measures, only increase the uphill battle for the arts and humanities. Over the past years, CAA has tracked these changes in higher education through the organization’s own research efforts and through narratives relayed directly from our members. These actions taken by administrations are in no way secret. In article after article, the alarm has been sounded. We believe there is a better way to resolve these issues and protect the arts and humanities at the same time.
To bridge this divide, CAA is pleased to release “Guidelines for Addressing Proposed Substantive Changes to an Art, Art History or Design Unit, or Program at Colleges and Universities.”
“These guidelines provide a path for open communication between faculty and administration,” says Hunter O’Hanian, executive director of CAA. “With this new tool to be used by both administrations and faculty equally, CAA builds a resource that is vital to strengthening the arts and humanities on campuses. The guidelines create clearly definable steps and parameters for a process that when handled badly leads to fissures between faculty, students, and administrations.”
The “Guidelines for Addressing Proposed Substantive Changes to an Art, Art History or Design Unit or Program at Colleges and Universities” call for a deeper understanding of the factors and issues that have precipitated the action to close a department or program. The guidelines outline two clear paths: they encourage constituencies to communicate about the potential changes, and they pave the way to resolution without having to eliminate or downsize the program or department.
If those conversations fail to reach a satisfactory outcome with the educational institution, the guidelines emphasize that the institutional administration must do everything it can to see that the program continues. And, as is the case with all scholastic endeavors, the administrations must show their work—they must provide documentation that the department has been adequately resourced and funded. It must demonstrate that growth has been encouraged rather than to allowing it to lay fallow.
“CAA remains convinced that students and society derive lasting benefit when institutions offer a diverse range of academic resources to support different learning styles,” says Jim Hopfensperger, president of the CAA Board of Directors. “These new CAA guidelines outline best practices toward sustaining this essential diversity of academic programs and operational assets.”
Hopfensperger adds that “CAA believes that students, staff, faculty, and institutional leadership teams are all well served by inclusive processes, open lines of communication, engagement across constituencies, and empathetic deliberations.”
Authors and Contributors for the “Guidelines for Addressing Proposed Substantive Changes to an Art, Art History or Design Unit or Program at Colleges and Universities”:
CAA Working Group for Guidelines for Addressing Proposed Substantive Changes to an Art, Art History or Design Unit or Program at Colleges and Universities: Tom Berding, Michigan State University; Brian Bishop, Framingham State University (Chair, CAA Professional Practices Committee); James Hopfensperger, Western Michigan University (CAA Board President); Charles Kanwischer, Bowling Green State University; Karen Leader, Florida Atlantic University; Richard Lubben, College of the Sequoias; Paul Jaskot, Duke University; Hunter O’Hanian, CAA Executive Director.