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Regents approve art history bachelor’s degree program

Texas State art students will have the opportunity to pursue a new major in the College of Fine Arts and Communication in spring 2013 if proper approval is granted by the end of this semester.
A Bachelor of Arts degree in art history through the School of Art and Design was approved by the Texas State University System Board of Regents during an Aug. 15 meeting and is awaiting approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Erina Duganne, associate professor in the School of Art and Design , said the coordinating board should be reviewing the request to create the major this semester, but it may be a couple of months before it is approved. Duganne said she hopes the major will be approved by the coordinating board before the end of the fall semester, and should be available by spring 2013.
Duganne said she has worked toward creating the major since fall 2006, and had to demonstrate a need for the program and justify its creation when writing the proposal.
Duganne said many students voiced their “dissatisfaction” in only previously being able to earn a degree in art with a concentration in art history instead of having the opportunity to receive a degree in art history itself. She said this student input was the driving force behind the major’s approval, especially since the concentration part of the degree was essentially a major but did not look like one on college transcripts and to potential employers.
“I’m really pleased that I could do this for the students and I know the students are really excited that this is happening,” Duganne said. “I think they really feel a sense of ownership of this degree as well.”
Duganne said there is no curriculum difference between the new Bachelor of Arts in art history and the previous concentration.
Michael Niblett, director of the School of Art and Design, said if students are looking for colleges that offer bachelor’s degrees in art history, they will see it listed in the curriculum and may choose to attend Texas State over other universities as opposed to when it was only a concentration under the art major.
“I think that will mean that we will have not just students who come here and discover art history, but we’ll have students who are seeking art history, so I think we’ll see growth,” Niblett said.
Duganne said the bachelor’s degree in art with a concentration in art history grew by 60 percent from 2007 to 2011, and they project the program will continue to grow.
Niblett said the Joann Cole Mitte Art Building, which currently houses the School of Art and Design, is “unfortunately” overcrowded. He said the building was designed for 500 majors, and it currently houses about 1,300 majors.
Fortunately, the new degree in art history is designed to not require any additional specialized studio spaces but can utilize normal lecture halls, Niblett said. There are two classrooms dedicated to art history in the Mitte building that are also “first call” classrooms other departments can teach in as well, he said.
Timothy Mottet, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication, said within the last five years three art historians have been hired as faculty members, and approval was recently obtained to hire an additional faculty member who will begin in fall 2014.
“Not only is there a student interest there, but the other important piece is that we’ve got an art history faculty that is emerging and developing,” Mottet said.
The art history major requires a “world class library, a world class faculty and lecture halls,” Mottet said. Since Texas State is an Emerging Research University, adding the bachelor’s degree in art history is a “building block” to becoming a research university and lays the foundation for a possible graduate program, he said.
Mottet said he has an interest in exploring the possibility of creating a master’s program in art history in the future. He said this is not currently on the university’s strategic plan but thinks “strategic plans can change.” Because of the quality of the art history faculty and growing enrollment, Mottet said predicts there may be an opportunity for a master’s program.
In addition, Niblett said Texas State might offer a minor in art history this semester without the approval of the coordinating board since the regents have approved the major.
“We’re pretty excited about (the new major),” Niblett said. “It’s an opportunity for scholarly study of the arts because most of our majors now are studio practicing arts so this is an opportunity to have some scholarly study in the school as well.”