Art department proposes new degree

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A proposal for Dixie State University to offer a new Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is awaiting approval.

The DSU art department recently submitted the suggestion to address the 20 students per year who transfer from DSU in search for a Bachelor of Fine Arts, or Bachelor of Fine Arts, and to help make DSU more competitive, according to the “Bachelor of Fine Arts Executive Summary.” The summary highlights the proposal including the external and internal demand, the revenue, the cost and the program plan.

“[A Bachelor of Fine Arts] allows students to take more art classes,” said McGarren Flack, adviser at the DSU college of arts. “Generally speaking, a Bachelor of Fine Arts is 60 percent art courses and 40 percent [General Education] coursework… So students that are more interested in becoming better artists would select the Bachelor of Fine Arts route. Also, we are the only university in the state that does not have a Bachelor of Fine Arts.”

The department surveyed 150 of the 220 visual art students and found 32 percent of students would consider going elsewhere to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and 84 percent of students stated they would rather earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts over a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science.

“Originally, I wanted to be an art teacher, but as I continue on, I want to go more into animation,” said Morgan Mechem, a freshman art major from Hurricane. “Because of that, I need to work more in that field, and I need a higher degree to compete with higher competition and look better on paper.”

The department reached out to 20 students who have transferred to other schools, and 12 of those students said they left to acquire a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

“I chose Dixie [State University] because it felt right,” Mechem said. “It felt like home because it’s close to home and it’s familiar. But I have honestly thought about leaving, even though it pulls at my heartstrings. I would probably transfer after my associate’s to pursue a higher degree.”

DSU would need to add three courses to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts. According to the executive summary, initial funds will not be required, but an extra faculty member will need to be hired. Funds will also need to be acquired for a computer lab in the North Plaza for digital art within the next five years. The total estimated cost is $325,000.

“This is going to be a conglomerate degree that allows a student to have more flexibility,” said Van Mangus, an adviser in the college of the arts. “But the best part about the Bachelor of Fine Arts is it has four classes — so 12 credits — in art history.”

The additional art history credits would allow students to have a more adaptable way to obtain a Master of Fine Arts, Mangus said. This is because a majority of Master of Fine Arts programs are asking for 12 credits of art history instead of the six currently offered.

According to the “Strategic Enrollment Plan” published by the university in 2014, DSU is projected to grow 3 percent each year with the art department growing 5-10 percent based off the data obtained over the past three years.

“It will be a very positive change,” Mangus said. “We think it could increase student enrollment at [DSU] because of the status of the degree.”

If DSU administrators approve the program, the program will include opportunities for students to work with local artists and other universities. This will include internships, which will allow students to gain experience in their field.

The department also plans on expanding the digital art track to provide more courses on animation and game design, which is the highest paying art-based career. The department is currently discussing possible internships within the animation industry, according to the program plan section of the executive summary.

“I wrote the degree to be applied by Fall 2017, so this next school year, if everything is [approved] by the Board of Regents and then Northwest Commission, we are good to go,” Flack said. “But if it is not [approved] by either one, then we have to go back to the drawing board and rewrite the degree and submit it up the line, which in turn will push back that time frame.”

Within the executive summary, the department reveals that art-based jobs are projected to increase 3 percent, and employment in the graphic design industry is estimated to increase 7 percent within the next 10 years.

Visual and performing arts is the seventh most offered degree program nationally with an average of 5.95 degrees, according to the executive summary. DSU currently offers three: Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Art and integrated studies.

“We have a couple of students that are willing to stay another year just in hopes to get a BFA, but again we have told them that it is a hope and they shouldn’t wait for a degree to happen,” Flack said. “If the stars align and the God of the cosmos decides we should get a [Bachelor of Fine Arts] — oh and the Board of Regents and Northwest Commission, we can’t forget them — in fall of 2017 we should have students in the degree by 2018, it would be possible to have students graduating Spring 2018 with a BFA, but that might be really optimistic.”