Arts transformation continues at Virginia Tech

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 1, 2008 – The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors recently approved two new schools to emphasize the broad spectrum of the arts at the university.

The School of the Performing Arts and Cinema will be housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and the School of Visual Arts represents the new name for the Department of Art and Art History in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. These entities had previously been combined in the former School of the Arts.

This reorganization dovetails with an expanded vision for the arts, which includes a planned performance hall and theater, a visual arts gallery, and a creative technologies lab.

The School of the Performing Arts and Cinema draws on the faculty and programs in theater, music, and film studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences communication department. The mission for the school is to utilize the performing arts and cinema to generate and disseminate knowledge and artistic expressions through instruction, research, and service with performances, educational outreach, and active involvement with a wide range of citizens, arts organizations, governmental entities, and businesses. Just as its predecessor, the school represents a structure for creating synergistic relationships among the separate departments and programs and does not constitute an administrative unit with separate faculty appointments or budgets.

“This academic structure allows for new opportunities,” said Sue Ott Rowlands, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “We will continue to provide visibility and prominence to the performing arts and also validate programs in film and film studies.”

Leadership for the school will be handled by existing department heads, Patty Raun (Department of Theatre Arts) will serve as director and Jay Crone (Department of Music) will serve as associate director. The director will report to the dean of the college.

The School of Visual Arts will fit within the structure of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, which currently is organized into three and now to be four schools. These are the School of Architecture + Design, the School of Public and International Affairs, and the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, a joint school with the College of Engineering. The mission of the School of Visual Arts is to offer an expansive undergraduate and graduate education in fine art, art history, and visual and digital design embracing contemporary and traditional techniques.

The School of Visual Arts will affirm this ideal, while specializing in new creative technologies as a vehicle for voice and vision. In addition to existing and proposed academic programs, the school includes

The director of the School of Visual Arts is the current department head of Art and Art History, T. Truman Capone. All responsibilities, authorities, and budget currently vested in the department will be transferred to the school. The director reports to Jack Davis, dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

“The new School of Visual Arts will round out the academic structure of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and will advance the university's commitment to innovation in the arts through learning, discovery, and engagement,” said Davis.

The Arts Initiative, which includes the new Center for the Arts complex, is a major fundraising goal of The Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future. Other aspects of the Arts Initiative include endowed professorships and programming; a new experimental theater and renovation of Henderson Hall, which will house the Visual Design Studio 4, visual communication design, and art history; a renovation of the Art Armory, which was completed in fall 2007; and the newly created CyberStudio animation lab, all contributing to an integrated arts and culture district in collaboration with the Town of Blacksburg.

The School of the Arts, established over a decade ago, existed within the College of Arts and Sciences and included theatre, music, and art and art history. With the restructuring of the college in 2003 and the move of art and art history to the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, the School of the Arts became a cross-college school. While programming continued, changes in department heads and new deans offered an opportunity to rethink the evolving mission of arts programming within the context of the two separate colleges and the major new university emphasis on the arts, education, and outreach begun in 2005.

Heather Riley Chadwick (540) 231-2108 also contributed to this story.