External Evaluation of the Art History Major at Towson University, 2010 Roberta K. Tarbell, Ph.D. CONCISE SUMMARY STRENGTHS and SUCCESSES The new Art History Major is enormously successful in the quality of its faculty, curriculum, and service to the department, the university, the profession, and the community. Provost Marcia Welsh, Dean Christopher Spicer and Acting Chair Stuart Stein demonstrate a clear understanding of the quality of the major and a willingness to solve problems and create opportunities for its ongoing growth and success. Art History is a significant and integral part of the B.A./B.F.A. and M.F.A. studio art programs of the growing Art + Design Department. Art History professors have been dynamic not only in establishing and anchoring the major and minor, but in devising three additional, excellent programs—Museum Studies Minor; Professional Studies (M.A.)—Art History, and the pending Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. PROBLEM AREAS 1. Too few full-time professors to teach the courses in modern and contemporary art necessary to meet graduation requirements of studio art undergraduate and graduate students, to be part of the faculty committees formed for each MFA student, and to participate in or lead the curatorial process of two galleries in the Center for the Arts 2. Inadequate access to basic art history electronic databases for student/faculty research in Cook Library and in the Center for the Arts 3. Inadequate budget for art history and for technical support, purchase, and maintenance of LCD projectors in the classrooms 4. Inadequate facilitation for transfer students entering Towson several of whom described the process as horrible 5. Inadequate recompense for adjunct faculty with Ph.D.s and extensive experience and inequity between studio and art history part-time faculty for compensation for teaching the same credit hour course and Authorization of the Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies Program CONCISE SUMMARY [continued] SOLUTIONS to these CHALLENGES 1. To relieve the course burden on art history faculty, hire a full-time tenuretrack professor of electronic and new media, that, perhaps, could be shared with Electronic Media and Film Department, and a full-time instructor who will teach about eight courses [sections] per year. Fund a graduate Teaching Assistant for art history. 2. Purchase licenses for art history-specific resources like Oxford University Press’s Grove on Art and the Grove Encyclopedia of American Art [expected 2011] for access in Cook Library and the Center for Art. 3. Allocate resources for predictable replacement of A-V equipment [LCD projectors and bulbs] essential to teaching Art History. 4. Improve process at the university, college, department, major, and classroom levels for students transferring to Towson. 5. Phase in changes over time to create an equal pay per course for studio and art history faculty teaching the same course. 6. Procure state approval for Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies Program External Evaluation of the Art History Major at Towson University, 2010 Roberta K. Tarbell, Ph.D.; Professor Emerita, Rutgers University, Camden NJ; Visiting Scholar, Center for American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Adjunct Professor, Art Conservation Masters and Preservation Studies Ph.D. Programs, Winterthur Museum/ University of Delaware Table of Contents Most sections include analysis followed by recommendations. Preface Administration Faculty Students Learning Goals and Assessment Building Facilities Libraries Museum Studies Minor Program Professional Studies (M.A.)—Art History Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies PREFACE The new Art History Major, fully in place in 2007, is enormously successful in the quality of its faculty, curriculum, and service to the department, the university, and the profession. Goals set in 2003 for art history have been met. This External Reviewer’s Report should be read in conjunction with the thorough and excellent 6000-word internal “Art History Major Program Review” and pertinent websites. ADMINISTRATION A good and pragmatic team collaborates on common goals. Rarely, in my thirty years of experience within two major state universities, have I seen educators in charge at the university, college, department and major levels who demonstrate such a clear understanding of the quality of a major/program and their willingness to co-ordinate solutions to problems. Provost Marcia Welsh, Dean Christopher Spicer, Acting Chair Stuart Stein, and Program Coordinator J. Susan Isaacs share desired outcomes and are innovative in creating opportunities for the ongoing growth and success of the Art History major and the many other degree programs in which art history is embedded. Art History, which had been created in the past to serve the studio program, has gained status as a separate discipline, but the coordinator needs even greater autonomy in determining the needs and integrity of the art history program. Currently the teamwork between studio art and art history is commendable, but the needs of the studio programs overwhelm the art history faculty which is overworked in meeting them. Recommendation Increase autonomy of Art History. Perhaps if a Professor of Contemporary Art is added, the burden shouldered by art history will decrease. ART HISTORY FACULTY Chairman Stein correctly described the faculty as “over achievers” who are “stars on campus” and praised their high productivity. These Art History professors excel in the tripod of academic careers—teaching, research, and service. They have been dynamic and visionary not only in establishing and anchoring the Art History major and minor, but in devising three additional, excellent programs—Museum Studies Minor; Professional Studies (M.A.)—Art History, and the pending Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. What an impressive improvement in quantity and quality of full-time tenured or tenure-track Art History faculty and the major since I reviewed the Art Department at Towson about fifteen years ago. Now four full-time and several part-time faculty averaged twenty sections per semester. They produced 4551 credit hours last year which will increase with the new programs in place or imminent. All tenure-track and tenured Art History Professors have Ph.D.s and are actively researching, publishing and involved with a national network of peers. Medievalist Karl Fugelso (tenured) is recognized internationally for his important work as Editor-in Chief of both the journal Studies in Medievalism and the book series Medievalism (published by Boydell & Brewer) and Assoc. Editor of the online review journal Medievally Speaking, all three of which are recognized leaders in their field. He has initiated some innovative new art outreach programs for students to interact with the public. Americanist Nancy Siegel (tenure-track) regularly publishes books and exhibition catalogues in the fields of 19th-century American landscape, print culture, and culinary history. She is also routinely involved in curatorial projects with institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Yale University, and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Classicist Amy Sowder (tenure track) is an emerging scholar in the field of classical studies and archaeology. Her archaeological excavations in Greece result in the publication of new and ongoing discoveries. The courses she teaches serve art history students as well as foster interdepartmental communication with all of the programs involved in the Classical Studies Minor (English, History, Women's Studies, Philosophy, Foreign Languages, etc.). J. Susan Isaacs, Ph.D., Professor, Coordinator of Art History, is the dynamic engine propelling the establishment of the Art History Major, Museum Studies Minor, the Professional Program M.A. in Art History and the proposed graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. She is ably assisted in these endeavors by the three Assistant and Associate Professors whom she was instrumental in hiring. She is the most qualified art history faculty member to participate in the graduate committees of the twenty-seven MFA students and the one who mentors all of them in their progress and expectations for their exhibitions which are required for graduation. She teaches the upper-level courses in contemporary art so important to studio art majors and is the Curator of the Center for the Arts Gallery. She cannot maintain this level of involvement with administration, teaching in several programs, program development, curatorial responsibilities, teaching and research. In order to meet the needs of students—to complete the rotation of courses in contemporary art required or needed by students majoring in studio art, Isaacs assumes an overload. She has significant insights to write and publish and needs time to do this. Students acknowledged they these young, vibrant professors are knowledgeable and enthusiastic. They are fully accessible to their students in class, during expanded office-hours and off-site visits to regional museums and occasionally during extended trips to Chicago, New York, and Europe. All are electronically savvy, communicate often via Blackboard, teach with power point and enable their students to achieve a high degree of capability with using new search engines for research and ease in presentation of images and text for oral, digital, and hard-copy presentations. Art history is word intensive and with no graduate assistants, professors personally grade several essay examinations and at least one [usually more] essay papers for every student in every class. They have devised exemplary writing courses and collaborate with faculty in many other departments. They teach the nine required graduate credits in art history in the MFA program (27 students), and the required four undergraduate art history courses in the studio major (another 700 students); credit hour production in art history last year was approximately 4700. Balancing their commitment to art history majors and to studio art majors is difficult. Stein said that credit hour production for his department had increased over the past two to three years which required hiring more part-time lecturers changing the important ratio of full-time to part-time faculty. Adjunct faculty in art history are excellent but exploited by inadequate pay. Ph.D.s with extensive experience receive only $2500/course compared to $35004500 at other regional institutions. I agree with the arguments set forth in “Funding, Resources, and Needs” in the internal Art History Major Program Review. The inequity between studio and art history part-time faculty for compensation for teaching the same credit hour course creates resentment. Studio faculty are paid by contact hour and their courses usually are four hours long. Art History professors are paid by credit hours for each course—usually three. Professionals with impressive credentials teach nonwestern art history-- annually, one course each is taught by Walters Art Museum staff--Robert Mintz, Assoc. Curator of Asian Art and Jackie Copeland, Director of Education who teaches African American. Recommendations [See “Of key concern in terms of faculty positions” in the internal Art History Major Program Review]: Hire an additional professor of contemporary art, especially one expert in new media and electronic art to serve on MFA committees for graduate students. Full-time faculty teach three classes per semester which is too heavy a teaching load for faculty who also are so active in research and service. Explore creating this as a new line shared with Electronic Media and Film Department. In addition, hire a full-time instructor for art history to decrease dependence on PTLs, a cost-effective compromise between creating another new tenure-track line and increasing the number of courses taught by adjunct faculty. The increased continuity will benefit students and the decrease in the need to hire so many PTLs will help the Coordinator of Art History. Fund one graduate teaching assistantship to alleviate the inordinate time required of art history professors to grade essay examinations and term papers. STUDENTS The large group of undergraduate and students in art history, art, and museum studies who met with me for two hours represented many different career goals –Curator, Art Education, Museum Educator, Art Therapy, Business, Printmaker, and Philosophy scholar. The rich curriculum offerings in Art History and Museum Studies support these objectives. Students agreed that required courses were offered in a timely manner and that they did not have to delay graduation because required courses were not available. Extended college years result from personal issues. The use of “Blackboard” as an electronic resource for all classes is excellent and appears to work well for students and faculty. Recent graduates with an art history major include a paper conservator (graduate of the Winterthur Master’s program) and an assistant in paper conservation at the National Gallery of Art and several who work in art galleries in New York City or Maryland. Students have gone on to graduate work in Museum Studies, Museum Education, and Art History. One area of concern universally acknowledged by the students was the horrible experience of entering Towson as a transfer. They felt lost and abandoned with inadequate mentoring, orientation, and facilitation of transfer credits and timely placement in classes at the beginning of a semester. When I met with them on February 2, some new transfers did not know for sure what courses they should take that term and none had completed the process of transferring credits. Recommendations Art History Professors and Coordinator should be proactive in seeking out students in the process of transferring into their major and minor subject areas to mentor the transfer of credit and course selection. Someone at the college or university level needs to track and assess the whole process and determine student satisfaction at each step of the way. In addition, members of the new Art History club can host several informal social events the first week of classes and in each class seek out and befriend transfer students. Professors can implement a simple exercise of having students talk with another student in class for five minutes and then introduce each other to the class. LEARNING GOALS and ASSESSMENT Ask any student in an art history class about the difficulty of art history courses relative to other areas and most will cite art history’s rigorous [high] standards for critical thinking, research, writing, and interpretation skills. All art history courses are writing intensive and develop students’ skills in arguing a point of view based on evidence. Every art history faculty member is passionate about raising the level of communication skills of every student in their classes. The department has devised model writing skills courses. Art history courses require knowledge of geography, philosophy, religion, literature, history, politics and ethnicity as the cultural context for the creation of individual objects of art. Because cogent articulation of the visual differences between two images is the core methodology of the discipline, many medical schools offer art history courses. Succeeding in art history courses indicate student mastery of the Learning Goals 1-6 for the Art History Program. The 2008 Data from Course-based Assessment reveal that majors are very satisfied with their achievement of learning goals and that beginners and nonmajors find Art History challenging and that students prefer writing papers to examinations. In my experience students unhappy with art history courses correlated with those who cut class, were unwilling to read texts, turned in assignments late and/or had questionable excuses for missing exams. Art history is difficult. Art history examinations require a set of skills new to most people— recognizing a significant set of images and a critical assessment of their differences, not just visually, but also of many historical, symbolic, and cultural criteria all of which they have to articulate in a very short amount of time. BUILDING FACILITIES and EQUIPMENT The renovations of the Center for the Arts completed in 2005 have provided art history students and faculty with good offices and two smart classrooms amidst dynamic art studios, theaters, rehearsal rooms, recital hall and three galleries. The University should rethink its policy of assigning the lecture hall and seminar room in the Center for the Arts to any department on campus while still requiring art history to pay for projectors, bulbs and technical troubleshooting for those smart classrooms. Recommendations Find the cause of the recent flood and eliminate it. Transform Slide Room to a Visual Resources Center [See section on Library]. Plan for repairs of LCD projectors and replacement for bulbs paid for outside of the Art History limited and strained budget. LIBRARIES One of the most profound paradigm shifts in research methodology for students at universities is the explosive rise in primary and secondary resources available to scholars electronically and often off-site. Few current and future students will understand the richness and sense of physically discovering appropriate books and journal essays in campus libraries. On the other hand, having amazing research materials already digitized available to students extends their exposure to primary and secondary documents. Rather than trying to develop an art history book library, providing increased access to excellent existing art history libraries would be more cost effective. Students have access to ten regional institutions, including the University of Maryland, College Park [which has a Ph.D. program in Art History], Johns Hopkins University, the Decker Library at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and the Baltimore Museum of Art which have well-established libraries of art history books. Recommendations: Because students will use electronic resources far more often than they will procure books and periodicals in the Cook Library on campus, Towson should allocate scarce monies to increasing availability of indispensible art history reference databases accessible in Cook and in the Center for the Arts. For example, although Towson has the hardcopy 26-volume Dictionary of Art  at Cook Library, students do not have access to the perpetually updated electronic version, Oxford University Press’s Grove Art [except for the section on Classical art]. Continuing full access to ArtStor and JSTOR is extremely important. I recommend a three-pronged approach: a. Cook Library: Increase the number and quality of indispensible art history reference databases and the librarians’ ease in using and teaching them to students. b. Center for the Arts: Transform the former slide room into a Visual Resource Study Center convenient to the 100s of students who have classes in the building. This would involve complete cleanup after the flood, remedial measures to prevent future floods, and the sorting of slides to select and digitize unique images. Add about two scanners, printers, and five or more computer stations with intranet capability to access the databases purchased by the library. Retain Venetia Zachary or some other person with degrees in art history, library science who can teach students how to research art history and how to create Power Point Presentations. Perhaps add a library of DVDs and videos of artists and the like and a core reference library of art history books. As I downsize my own library, I will be happy to donate several 100s. c. Enhance consortium agreements with two or three institutions with superb art history book resources and increase shuttle service between them and Towson to facilitate the needs of students. MUSEUM STUDIES MINOR Professors Nancy Siegel and J. Susan Isaacs have jumpstarted this new interdisciplinary undergraduate minor program with eleven different courses for which impressive syllabi are fully-developed. The program began this year with at least seven students in place. In contrast, the undergraduate Museum Studies Program minor at Rutgers University, Camden, which I directed for thirteen years, has only five courses. Undergraduate minor programs in Museum Studies are rare but extremely valuable especially for the students at Towson-few art history majors will pursue a Ph.D. in Art History, but most will work at a museum or nonprofit agency. Meeting the practical and professional needs, as well as the conceptual/philosophical development of your specific undergraduate cohort is important. Siegel (who has a graduate certificate in Museum Studies) and Isaacs have extensive and exemplary experience in museums and galleries. Students accompany Isaacs to artists’ studios preliminary to selecting works for exhibitions at Towson or at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art where Isaacs has curated over 100 exhibitions. Minor Program directors have procured excellent professionals in the field to teach courses, and, because of their extensive network, will continue to do so. Museum Studies professors have established a good network with many regional Museums which provide internship opportunities for students. Towson University needs to balance this good will offering of significant off-site teaching [internships] by increasing funds for staff for the Center for the Arts Gallery and the Holtzman MFA Gallery. Museum Studies Minor students participate in every aspect of the fascinating process [from conception to de-installation] in the changing exhibitions in these galleries and the quality of program and exhibitions there enhances the quality of the education of all students on campus. The university, not the Art History Major and Museum Study Minor programs should pay for staffing for these institutional entities. PROFESSIONAL STUDIES (M.A.)—ART HISTORY This new program, a pragmatic recognition of the students who will seek this degree, plans to prepare graduates for jobs in public and private museums, galleries, community arts centers and other nonprofit arts agencies. The high level of scholarship and research of the Art History faculty support the initiation of a graduate degree in their discipline. With additional and appropriate requirements for graduate students, current undergraduate courses can be dual pitched to more than one level of student. Already Art History and Museum Studies classes attract students from a wide range of disciplines and the faculty is adept at meeting needs of individuals. GRADUATE CERTIFICATE In MUSEUM STUDIES This impressive fifteen-credit graduate certificate program is an ingenious and unique answer to a real need. I received dozens of requests from students with undergraduate and graduate degrees in art history or studio art who needed exposure to and education and credentials in professional work in museums and/or nonprofit arts agencies. Students, otherwise, are forced to complete either undergraduate minor requirements or a more-expensive master’s degree. This program can stand alone or be adjunctive to existing graduate programs in theater, music, fine arts, professional studies (which includes Art History), and women’s studies, marketing and public relations, business, etc. Towson University can offer a premier post-baccalaureate certificate program because of the unusual strength and breadth of the Museum Studies/Art History faculty and curriculum already in place and willingness of area museum curators to cooperate. Towson’s Certificate Programs are its fastest growing component. Towson will be on the cutting edge and will attract students with this timely, appropriate and excellent program which few institutions could offer at such a high level. See “Competition and Demand” of the internal Art History Major Program Review.