There’s a clear message coming out of the nation’s capital on the issue of higher education these days: It’s all about skills and jobs. In a highly reported sound bite from President
Obama’s recent speech before a group of manufacturing industry
workers, he commented, “Folks can make a lot more potentially
with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an
art history degree.” Obama continued with the suggestion that a
four-year college education is less significant than “[getting] the
skills and the training that you need.”
The hackles of many a humanities-based professor and related
professional organizations were raised high by this remark, per-
haps with good reason. In upstate New York, the State University
of New York at Geneseo is currently in the final semester of a
three-year teach-out of Studio Art, and last year Atlanta’s Emory
College announced plans to eliminate its Department of Visual
Arts and Program of Journalism.
While the reasons for these closures differ—according to
administration, SUNY Geneseo’s program is succumbing to “harsh
budget realities in the wake of diminishing state funding,” while
Emory administrators talk about the size and scope of the school’s
overall mission to ensure that department resources will not be
overextended—this could represent the start of a coming attack on
a liberal arts education as a whole.
Emory photography professor Jason Francisco states, “There was
little to no academic judgment involved and little heed paid to the
desires of students, whose enrollments have continuously been
strong, particularly in photography.”
What is the future of arts education for the next generation of
budding creative talent in this crumbling ivory tower?
IVORY TOWER OR
A Sneak Peek at the College Affordability Plan
| By Colleen Mullins |
THIS PAGE: An image from Jason Francisco’s book After the American Century, which assesses
the American landscape post-September 11th, “exploring the fragile prosperity and worn innocence” through photographs made across the country.