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After long wait, College of the Arts to open in September


The College of Arts will open in September. | File photo/The Cougar

UH System’s Board of Regents signed off on several initiatives Feb. 18, including the establishment of the College of the Arts, which will be completed by Sept. 1 of this year.

The new college hopes to develop a reputation on par with arts institutions such as New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts or the California Institute of the Arts near Los Angeles.

Andrew Davis, the planning director of the new college and director of the Moores School of Music, said uniting the arts under a cohesive unit also aims to increase the University’s creative presence in the community.

“(There will be) a greater efficiency and level of support for students, faculty and the administrative staff, not that there wasn’t before, but we think that the arts have specific needs in terms of student support, career support and internships,” Davis said. “We don’t have the mechanism for providing that right now, that’s one of the reasons we created this college.”

Schools and programs that will leave their home in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and move to the new college include the Moores School of Music, School of Art, School of Theater & Dance, Blaffer Art Museum, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, Center for Arts Leadership and the Graduate Program for Arts Management.

Degree programs in the college’s schools and programs will be unaffected by the transition.

Programs like the Alley Theatre, the Houston Symphony, the Houston Ballet and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston are currently in preliminary discussions to work with the University when the new college is created, Davis said.

“There are many organizations in the city that are just waiting to work with the arts department at UH,” Davis said. “This (college) gives students a pathway into the professional organizations in the city. It takes administration to do that, and we think we can do that with the College of (the) Arts.”

Although task forces and the committees have been working through the idea for more than two years, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts Executive Director Karen Farber said this has been in the works for nearly five years.

She said for students who want to study arts, this new college will provide more focus to their needs than when they were under the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

“We were working well with the CLASS, but there’s a history of CLASS having been the merger of (a) couple of different colleges. Then it became quite a large college,” Farber said. “This became a natural next step to strengthen the arts.”

CLASS is home to 16 schools and departments — the largest and most diverse of the 12 colleges at the University — encompassing the creative and performing arts, humanities and social sciences, meaning 10,000 undergraduate majors and minors and 1,200 graduate students are housed within the college.

Theater freshman McCoy Rasco said this new college will surely improve the quality of art programs and give them a chance to show off that quality.

“I hope it raises awareness for the arts that we have here because we have a great arts program here, with the School of Music and School of Performing Arts,” Rasco said. “We have such great professors with real experience, and I hope this gives us the chance to show we exist. Many don’t know that you can major in arts here.”

Davis said the college will create an identity of its own, guided by artists and for artists, while also allowing expanded opportunities for collaborations across the disciplines.

“We haven’t looked closely at this kind of initiative before. The arts have specific needs in terms of internships and student (or) career support. I think it’s the right place and time to carry (the College of Arts) forward,” Davis said.

“In five years, I’d want to look at Houston and say, I don’t need to leave the city to go to a place like (a top-rated art school), it’s right here.”

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