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Queen’s Suspends Fine Arts Admissions

Queen's University, bachelor of fine arts program, bfaIn 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.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

5 thoughts on “Queen’s Suspends Fine Arts Admissions

  • November 16, 2011 at 7:25 pm
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    CBC news said that one of the reasonings behind the suspension was the retirement of a faculty member? Im confused how a planned retirement would take them so much by surprise that it would be one of the main contributing factors to suspending the program.I hope it's only temporary but would not be surprise if this was the end of the program, if it is it's a shame. It's a small program I cant help but think that if it was strictly a matter of budget there would have been other areas where spending could have been cut. But with all of the money being dumped into athletics it is becoming clear where priorities lie.

  • November 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm
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    this is really sad … a serious blow to the arts in Kingston….

  • November 17, 2011 at 10:05 pm
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    As a second-time Queen's student I am terribly upset with this decision on the part of the university. They have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a business school expansion, medical school expansion and athletics yet continue to underfund programs which don't normally result in large alumni donations. This is terribly short-sighted and shows exactly where the school's focus is… if the program won't result in large alumni donations it isn't worth funding. Shame on the university for allowing this program to be suspended. If there is a shortage of studio space build more, the school had no problem building new business and med buildings in the past year. Decisions like cutting the BFA program are exactly why Queen's has slipped in university rankings in the past decade. Shame on Queen's.

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