Dean declares new degrees, programs

By Campus Editor

As the school year comes to an end, the School of Media Arts is undergoing another round of changes that will affect incoming students. 

New degrees and minors were among the changes announced in a May 2 email from Robin Bargar, dean of the School of Media Arts.

The Audio Arts & Acoustics Department will now offer degrees in Audio Design & Production and Live & Installed Sound, which were former concentrations renamed to clarify their areas of study and better convey students’ skills to prospective employers, Bargar said.

In addition to new media arts minors, the Cinema Art + Science Department will offer a new bachelor’s of fine arts degree and the Audio Arts & Acoustics Department will offer two new bachelor’s of arts, Bargar said. 

“There’s a need to make it very clear what students are studying and what they’re actually graduating in,” Bargar said. “It might be better for your profession if you have a degree that’s more focused in your area.”

The Interdisciplinary Arts program will not move into the School of Fine and Performing Arts until fall 2015, according to John Green, interim dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts. 

Clifton Meador, interim chair of the Interdisciplinary Arts Department, said the department’s shift into the School of Fine and Performing Arts was initially proposed during the prioritization process—the college-wide evaluation of Columbia’s resources, structure

and curricula that took place several years ago. 

Moving the Interdisciplinary Arts Department, which includes approximately 80 graduate students, will allow students to work within a school that is more arts-focused, Meador said. 

The move will also allow the department to use the School of Media Arts’ resources, Meador said, adding that students will also be able to access resources in the Art + Design Department and work more closely with faculty. 

The department could possibly be renamed the Department of Art & Art History, but the new name and the departmental move will not be finalized until new provost Stan Wearden steps in this summer, Meador said. 

“It will increase the permeability of resources on both sides, and I think that’s good for all students,” Meador said. “There’s a new provost coming in, and I’m sure that everything needs to be run by him before we move forward on [moving the department].”

The Cinema Art + Science Department’s new fine arts degree had been in the works since before the prioritization process, said department chair Bruce Sheridan. 

The change will take effect  in fall 2014 and will allow students to study filmmaking more closely than a traditional bachelor’s degree would allow, he said. 

After completing their first two years in the Cinema Art + Science Department’s Bachelor of Arts courses, 8–12 students will be selected to participate in the fine arts program, Sheridan said. 

As part of the program, students will work together to produce a film, he said. 

“What we’re doing is trying to give students the opportunity to demonstrate a deep expertise in a particular area and the ability to use that collaboratively to create work [that’s] sophisticated,” Sheridan said. 

Pantelis Vassilakis, chair of the Audio Arts & Acoustics Department, said alumni from the department were identifying themselves by the concentrations of Live & Installed Sound and Audio Design in Production. 

The degree requirements will not change for current students and the new name will allow students to clearly explain their skill sets to employers, Vassilakis said, adding that the courses and audio skills learned differ by program.

In addition to these changes, Bargar announced a new pilot for “project jams,” in which students work  in teams on projects for industry professionals and the radical publishing project, a teleconference symposia connecting students with professionals in Silicon Valley. He said the pilot program for the project jams will begin this summer, adding that working on these projects will be more flexible for companies whose work does not fit a tradition semester. Bargar said before making these changes, the departments collected student input, had discussions with faculty and sought recommendations from the Faculty Senate. 

“It’s much easier to stop things than to start things, and that’s the nature of [higher education]” Sheridan said. “We take care of a lot of young people and their money, so we have to be careful that we don’t just make hasty decisions.”