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IU approves proposal for new school


The IU Board of Trustees approved a merger of the departments of studio art and apparel merchandising and interior design to form the IU School of Art and Design

By Cassie Heeke



By Cassie Heeke

The proposal for a new IU-Bloomington school that will combine two departments has been endorsed by the IU Board of Trustees, according to an IU press release. Studio Art and the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design will merge to form the School of Art and Design.

Until a dean is selected, the organization of the school is led by Stephen Watt, associate dean for strategic initiatives in the College of Arts and Sciences. Watt said faculties within both departments involved in the merger have been enthusiastic and generous with their time.

“This has been a really great effort among faculty and staff who have been tremendous throughout the process of organizing the school,” Watt said.

The school, which is to be part of the College of Arts and Sciences, reflects the University’s commitment to strengthening its arts and humanities programs, according to the release. It is an integral part of the IU Bicentennial Strategic Plan.

The initial proposal was submitted by IU President Michael A. McRobbie, who said in the press release design and visual inquiry are now critical aspects of economic competitiveness. He named Apple as an example of a company that relies on these skills.

“The establishment of the School of Art and Design will bring together the very strong programs on the campus in visual art, design and merchandising in a technology-rich environment that encourages collaboration and interdisciplinary learning,” McRobbie said in the release. “Graduates of these programs will in turn play an increasingly important role in modernizing the Indiana economy.”

The dean of the school will have an office inside Kirkwood Hall, Watt said. The building, built in 1894, is scheduled to undergo renovations this fall, according to the release. Also this fall, a newly renovated studio building is set to open for the use of IU’s painting faculty and BFA and MFA students.

In addition, the school will utilize the IU Center for Art and Design Columbus in Columbus, Indiana. Watt said he is especially excited for this aspect because of the city’s architectural prestige, which he witnessed while at a Design Futures Council conference in Atlanta this summer.

“I talked to dozens of architects, and every one of them knew about Columbus and its distinguished history with world famous buildings,” Watt said.

As for curriculum, a set of “creative core” courses will be updated to include training in foundational skills and modern technology, according to the release. New degree programs, minor degrees and certificates will also be explored. The target launch for the school is July 1, 2016.

“I think the end result will be a wonderful asset for the students of Indiana University,” Watt said. “The students will be the greatest beneficiaries of this merger.”

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