Pratt Institute to Separate the School of Art and Design

by Corinna Kirsch on February 13, 2014 Newswire


Pratt is breaking up. According to an internal announcement sent to faculty and staff on February 11th, the School of Art and Design will split into two separate departments, the School of Art and the School of Design. This is the latest development to emerge from the Pratt administration’s contentious “Strategic Plan: 2012-17”; the split was not part of the original document.

The launch of the new schools will be official as of July 1st, 2014, and the departments will be divided into the following majors:

The School of Art
– Art and Design Education
– Associate of Applied Science/Associate of Occupational Studies Department
– Creative Arts Therapy
– Design Management/Arts and Cultural Management
– Digital Arts
– Fine Arts
– Film/Video
– Photography

The School of Design
– Communications Design (Undergraduate)
– Communications and Package Design (Graduate)
– Fashion Design
– Industrial Design
Interior Design

Faculty we’ve spoken with don’t see much rhyme or reason why Design Management would leave the School of Design, or why Art and Design Education belongs in the School of Art more than the School of Design. Adding to that confusion, the History of Art and Design Department will exit the School of Art and Design entirely; it will be headed to the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Dissolving the School of Art and Design is just one part of Pratt’s “Strategic Plan: 2012 – 2017,” developed by the Provost’s Office in conjunction with the Board of Trustees. The plan will result in an overhaul to the school’s undergraduate curriculum.

Sometimes the changes are dramatic, sometimes minute:

– Students will not be required to choose a major until the end of their freshman year.
– Studio courses will be increased to 3 credit hours (up from 1 credit hour) with a 1.5 hour lecture component added on top of that.
– Classes will likely meet twice a week instead of once, due to the credit hour increase.
-Credits required to graduate will decrease from 134 credit hours to between 120 and 126 credit hours.

Longtime Pratt faculty we’ve spoken to have expressed disapproval with the lack of transparency and insight into the decision-making process.

“This was all done without consultation with the Senate and the faculty,” said one Pratt Senate member.

The Pratt Senate views itself as a sort of oversight committee to the Pratt administration; a watchdog, if you will. When the administration makes far-reaching curriculum policies without consulting with faculty, of course there will be some push-back.

That’s certainly evident from the comments left on a response website developed by the Senate. Faculty and staff complaints range from concerns about cutting the school up into technical and liberal arts programs to increasing the time demands on faculty. Others see this as a money-making endeavor; the increase in credit hours means students will pay more per course, and as freshmen don’t need to declare a major until their sophomore year, it may become harder for students to graduate on time.

We’ll have more on this story as it progresses.

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