Emory University has announced a plan to restructure its College of Arts and Sciences. As it embarks on a multi-year program to shore up core strengths and focus on new growth areas, it will eliminate four departments – most notably, for ArtsATL readers, the Department of Visual Arts and the Program in Journalism.
Among other changes, the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts will become an institute without a permanent faculty, and graduate admissions to it will be suspended.
The announcement affects six of the seven visual arts faculty members: Linda Armstrong, Sarah Emerson, Julia Kjelgaard, Diane Kempler, Kerry Moore and Laura Noel. Jason Francisco, who is tenured, will move to another department. The faculty will remain through the 2013-14 school year in order to allow students pursuing the joint art history and visual arts major to complete their studies. (The department had no majors.)
The future of the 2006 Visual Arts Building and the Visual Arts Gallery program have not been decided.
“There is such a terrible amount of sadness,” said Kjelgaard, the department chair. Though aware of discussions about dramatic changes, she said she was taken by surprise when notified Thursday. “I thought we were safe because the university had done a lot in recent years to say that it supports the arts,” Kjelgaard said. “We always considered visual arts as an integral part of a liberal arts institution, as it is in our peer colleges.”
Nancy Seideman, executive director of university media relations, said Emory is not eliminating visual arts altogether. “We plan to ensure that students have access to opportunities in the visual arts,” she said, “and we will be exploring a variety of options, including courses in other departments or noncredit courses offered through other units, over the next two years.”