IU Board of Trustees endorses proposed School of Art and Design in Bloomington

  • Aug. 14, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Board of Trustees has endorsed a proposal from IU President Michael A. McRobbie to form the School of Art and Design on the Bloomington campus.

The proposed school, which will bring together the courses of study within the departments of studio art and apparel merchandising and interior design, is an integral part of the Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University, specifically its stated commitments to student success, building a prosperous and innovative Indiana, and moving toward a culture of building and making.

"In today's world, design and visual inquiry have emerged as critical components of economic competitiveness," McRobbie said. "They are famously fundamental to the success of a company like Apple. The IU Bloomington School of Art and Design will further enhance the ability of the campus to provide an outstanding education that centers on creativity and innovation in the context of a liberal arts education.

"As we approach our Bicentennial, Indiana University is reimagining what a world-class creative education needs to involve," McRobbie continued. "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, Graduates of these programs will in turn play an increasingly important role in modernizing the Indiana economy."

McRobbie's proposal to IU trustees followed a nearly unanimous vote by faculty in studio arts and in apparel merchandising and design to endorse the establishment of the school.

"I commend the faculty for their vision in moving this exciting initiative forward," IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel said. "I’m thrilled about the new collaborative opportunities for faculty, staff and students across campus."

The proposed school, which will be part of the College of Arts and Sciences, reflects the university's continued commitment to strengthening the arts and humanities; expanding IU Bloomington's longstanding traditions of exploration, reflection, analysis and creativity; and transforming ideas into practice.

"The faculty are truly inspired by the abundant possibilities this school represents, particularly in the area of collaborative work and innovative partnerships," said Larry Singell, executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It is exciting to imagine faculty and students teaming up to explore the ways in which art and design might interact and respond to human needs, and then finding ways to offer creative solutions to the marketplace through merchandising. This form of collective thinking and problem solving, sometimes called 'design thinking,' is perfectly aligned with the goals and practices of the liberal arts and with the mission of the College."

Stephen Watt, associate dean for strategic initiatives, will supervise the newly aligned programs in studio art, apparel merchandising, fashion design and interior design until a search committee can be assembled and the selection of a dean can be completed.

"This school presents a unique opportunity for talented artists and designers -- along with product developers and professionals with outstanding professional expertise -- to work together for the benefit of our students and of the entire university community," Watt said.

The school's curriculum will reflect both timeless skills and modern technologies. For example, the gateway training in fine arts, fundamental studio courses, will be updated to a set of "Creative Core" courses. Additionally, the possibility of creating new degree programs, minors and certificate programs will also be explored.

The main office for the proposed School of Art and Design will be in Kirkwood Hall. The 1894 building on the Old Crescent is scheduled to undergo extensive renovations beginning this fall. Apparel merchandising and interior design offices are slated to move into Kirkwood once construction is complete. This fall, a newly renovated studio building will open in Bloomington to serve the needs of its painting faculty and BFA and MFA students.

The new school will also encourage greater utilization of the Indiana University Center for Art and Design Columbus, which was created in 2011 in the heart of an Indiana city nationally recognized for the modern design of its buildings.

The target date for the launch of the School of Art and Design is July 1, 2016.

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Stephen Watt, associate dean for strategic initiatives

Stephen Watt, associate dean for strategic initiatives

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