In the latest edition of the Queen’s Alumni Review (page 56), Alfred Bader writes about the importance of the institution’s Art Conservation and History programs, recalling a time when the University did not have the renowned programs and facilities it enjoys in the 21st century. Regarding the future of Queen’s Art History program, he writes:
My dream now is that Queen’s will continue to acquire great paintings, to arrange interesting exhibitions, and to have great teachers who care and inspire excellent students. Then Queen’s will be the best school in art history not only in Canada but hopefully in North America.
To be clear, Bader happens to be a major donor to the University, behind numerous generous gifts including the 15th century castle at Herstmonceux, two Rembrandt paintings, and most recently the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. In light of his philanthropic contributions to Queen’s, which have arguably enriched the lives of numerous classes and Kingstonians, as well as the aforementioned comments from the Alumni Review, I couldn’t help but find last week’s news regarding the suspension of the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program a terribly bitter and contradictory pill to swallow.
In an Email from Gordon Smith (Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science) to current BFA students, which was published by The Journal, the decision to suspend the program was announced as follows:
A review of the resources available to the BFA Programme in the immediately foreseeable future indicates that they are not sufficient to sustain the current programme. Given this assessment the Faculty does not feel it would be responsible to continue to admit students at this time. Consequently, following consultation with the Provost, the Faculty has decided to suspend admissions to the Programme for the 2012-2013 academic year.
The Faculty is committed to ensuring that students currently enrolled in the BFA Programme will be able to complete their degree with no interruption to their studies. The Dean and Associate Dean plan to meet with BFA students in the near future to discuss any concerns or questions that may arise.
The Faculty will continue to assess the status of the Programme.
Needless to say, the decision to temporarily suspend the program has upset students, faculty and alumni, while some fear that it sets a dangerous precedent that could put other artistically-oriented programs at risk. If you contrast the BFA program’s suspension against recent investments in athletics such as the Queen’s Centre, revitalized Tindall Field, and installation of artificial turf at Richardson Stadium, the priorities of the university and it’s benefactors come into focus. Further, while there’s no indication that the BFA program is lost forever, an extended hiatus will diminish the overall Queen’s experience, and otherwise reduce the significance of galleries and the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts when it comes to showcasing student works.
What are your thoughts and fears regarding the BFA suspension? Do you think other programs, services and facilities are at risk, or is this simply a temporary measure? Please drop off your comments below.
Thanks to ministephanie for today’s photo.