Art history on hold for review

By Rhiannon Kirkland

The Art History department at the University of Calgary has put a hold on admissions for art history majors for the 2009/10 year.

The art history program is under review and no new students will be accepted into the program next year.

“Programs are routinely revised and analyzed by department heads,” said music and art communications manager Jenny Conway Fisher. “It’s a way of finding out what our niche is, what our expertise is and ensuring that that program is as effective as possible.”

Reviews are regularly undertaken by departments to see what changes are needed, to update programs and to get input from faculty and students, she said.

“Obviously we don’t agree with not admitting students into the program,” said Students’ Union vice-president academic Pamela Weatherbee. “I think that it’s great to be doing a review.”

No new students will be admitted to art history next year because it is not fair to bring them into a program that is about to be changed, explained Conway Fisher.

“There’s no benefit to letting people in and then changing things halfway through,” said fine arts communications manager JoAnn Reynolds. “However they change the program or update classes or offer new classes, that needs to be something that happens from a clean start.”

The deferral of admissions will have no effect on current courses offered or professors. All classes, including first-year courses, will continue to be offered and there will be no change for professors, said Reynolds. Students currently majoring in art history will be able to complete their programs as planned and their requirements will not change.

Prospective students who wish to take art history will still be able to take first-year art history classes, but will have to wait until the end of the review to find out what the new requirements will be for a degree and apply for formal admission to the program.

“We’re definitely going to keep a close eye on what’s going on, making sure that no students are being left behind and that the review is actually a review and not just a cut off of the program,” said Weatherbee. “They need to communicate with the students and make sure that they’re very aware of where the process is and any steps that they’ve taken.”

Weatherbee said that it’s important to include students in the review process and to get their views on what the art history program’s strengths and weaknesses are.

Adam O’Byrne, a third-year fine arts major, said students need to be included in the process and able to express their views about the art history program and its place in the faculty of fine arts.

“They’re just suspending it,” added third-year fine arts student Camille Weinsheimer. “They’re still offering the same classes and so I don’t find it that big of a deal as long as they’re still offering the same classes.”

Weatherbee and Conway Fisher said that the review is not related to the proposed faculty amalgamation.

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