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Dean unhappy with changes in department

The design, merchandising and textiles department will be the newest addition to the College of Fine Arts, but the dean of its previous home said she is not happy about the change and the way it was handled.The department has been a part of the AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences since its separation from the former AddRan College of Arts and Sciences in 2000.

Mary Volcansek, dean of the AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said she was unhappy that she was not consulted about the change and did not know about the change until the department informed her. She said there were problems with the way the transfer was handled and she declined to go into further detail.

“It has just not been handled well,” Volcansek said.

Provost Nowell Donovan said Volcansek was consulted and that she had a lot to do with the initiation of the transfer.

He said there may have been one or two areas where Volcansek and Scott Sullivan, dean of the College of Fine Arts, didn’t communicate.

Sullivan said he was unaware of any problems Volcansek could be referring to.

Volcansek said she would have liked to have kept the department in AddRan. She said it had been part of the AddRan College of Arts and Sciences since the 1970s.

“Design, merchandising and textiles have been a part of AddRan historically since home economics disappeared,” Volcansek said.

Donovan said, “I’ve heard she made a statement when she was displeased, but the most important thing is the future of DEMT. Both deans had mentioned it to me as a potential move.”

Sullivan said the College of Fine Arts invited the department to join the college. He said he approached Donovan about the possibility of having the school transferred to the College of Fine Arts, and then Donovan approached the DEMT faculty and they voted to join.

Janace Bubonia-Clarke, chair of the DEMT department, said she and other faculty members are excited about moving into the College of Fine Arts. She said it will be very positive for students and faculty.

Clarke said one of the major advantages they considered while voting was that the DEMT department and the College of Fine Arts both have professional-based programs. She said the change will enhance student collaboration with colleagues. She did not disclose the outcome of the vote.

Sullivan said, “Their programs, I believe, are a better academic fit in our college.”

He said the kind of work the students and faculty do are closer to what fine arts faculty and students do. He said the fine arts faculty more easily understands the student’s work.

“We do drawing in the art department,” Sullivan said. “They teach fashion history, and we teach costume history. They have a lot of courses in lighting, and we teach lighting in dance and theater.”

Donovan said, “Design of art is an art form,” and part of his job is to look at the balance of colleges and the change “seemed to be the natural thing to do.”

He said DEMT seemed to be of a fit in the College of Fine Arts because they are different from AddRan on a professional level.

The main reason for the change came when they looked back to see if the 2000 split of AddRan was working and where the best fit for DEMT was, Donovan said. He said they questioned if they got the placement of DEMT right the first time.

He said it is like playing with a jigsaw puzzle and trying to fit a piece in a hole it won’t fit in. The right place has to be found, he said.

“My hope is in a new college, they will be sharing a common interest,” he said.

In a letter to colleagues, Donovan said, “The move came about as a result of an assessment of the effectiveness of the division of the colleges that occurred a few years ago. Faculty in the department are excited by the move which they believe will provide opportunities for creative synthesis with their new colleagues in the Fine Arts.”

Sullivan said it makes more sense to have them join the College of Fine Arts.

“The accreditation of our art program by the National Schools of Art and Design was an impetus as it mandated inclusion of interior design and pointed out the difficulties of having such a program outside our college,” Sullivan said. “Graduate students in interior design will show their work in our art gallery. They used to do it in the student center.”

He said the change will take effect June 1, and that they are already working toward the transition by creating degree plans that will easily accommodate new students.

Current students will probably not notice the change, Sullivan said. He said there will be the same majors, courses and degrees, and classes will stay where they are in the current building.

Donovan said he sees a bright future for the department in the College of Fine Arts.

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