MU College of Education suspends admissions to undergraduate art education program

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 | 8:42 p.m. CST; updated 9:46 p.m. CST, Tuesday, February 25, 2014

COLUMBIA — The MU College of Education announced this week it will suspend admissions to its undergraduate art education program effective this fall.

Current MU sophomores, juniors and seniors will be able to complete the program by May 2016 if they have been accepted into the program and continue to meet or exceed minimum graduation requirements, according to a news release from the College of Education. 

The art education program has had the smallest number of graduates in all of the college’s undergraduate areas throughout the past five years, according to the news release.

"While the faculty has worked hard to increase enrollments, the number of graduates still averages fewer than 10 each year," College of Education Dean Daniel Clay said in the release. "These types of decisions are never easy, but with limited state resources, we have decided to focus on our post-baccalaureate certification and graduate programs in art education."

Kathy Unrath, MU associate professor of art education, said in an email these undergraduate enrollment numbers do not represent the total number of art educators who are certified each year.

They do not include a strong contingent of graduate students who are earning a master of education with certification degree, she said.

"We are hearing that when budgets need to be cut, arts are expendable," Unrath said. "I care so much about the quality of the century-old art education program at MU ... yet the official response that my students are getting from the university when they write in support of the art education program is 'I assure you that art education is alive and well at Mizzou.'"

Sharyn Hyatt-Wade, MU adjunct instructor of art education and a former art teacher at Rock Bridge High School, said she thinks the College of Education got the numbers wrong when looking for small programs to cut.

"Our program isn't nearly as small as the numbers that they are putting out there," Hyatt-Wade said. "We're concerned that the decision is being made with false data."

In the release, Clay said it is important to note that the art education program isn’t closing at MU and that the college remains committed to art education.

"We continually evaluate and assess all of our programs as part of our responsibility to be good stewards of our resources," Clay said. "Going forward, we will monitor a number of factors in determining whether to lift that suspension."

Current MU freshmen or undergraduate students applying for admission in the fall have two options to pursue art education at MU, according to the release. Students may: 

  • earn a bachelor of fine arts degree through the MU College of Arts and Science and then pursue a teacher certification in the MU College of Education through a post-baccalaureate certification program.
  • choose to pursue a master’s degree in art education with certification requirements. 

All four art teachers at Rock Bridge High School are alumni of the MU art education program, said Carrie Stephenson, foundations of art and advanced art teacher at Rock Bridge.

"You've got students who are so passionate about what we do and what they do as artists that they would love to go join this field," Stephenson said of current Rock Bridge art students. "It's just a shame that we're no longer going to be able to tell them, 'Hey, Mizzou has this amazing, life-changing program that's consistently doing some of the things that are on the forefront of art education, but sorry, it's not there anymore.'"

Stephenson said she has former art students who are now MU freshmen who will have to pause and reassess whether they will have to transfer universities

"It's crushing for them," Stephenson said. "We used to really pride ourselves in being in a community that supports the art, at a university that supports the arts, and to have them cancel that type of program, I feel like it's sort of them making a statement that maybe we don't have the advocacy for the arts and the arts in schools that we thought we did."

Stephenson also said she fears this decision will interrupt the MU master's program, as it will break the cycle of art education in the community. It will then have an effect on the art programs in elementary and secondary schools, she said.

Caitlin Casey, a 2003 graduate of Rock Bridge, said she greatly benefited from the high school art program, which has relied on the students and infrastructure of the MU art education program. 

"Taking away the art education program at MU runs the risk of stripping away the rich world of K-12 art education in mid-Missouri," Casey said in an email. "Even though I'm now a scientist by training, I could not have reached half of the career hurdles had my artistic skills (not) been fostered so intensely by the wonderful teachers and student teachers involved with MU art education."

Without her experience in the Rock Bridge art program, Lauren Orscheln said she would not be a successful artist today.

Now living in New York City and attending the School of Visual Arts, Orscheln said her work, which has been featured in Business Insider, started as ideas during her advanced placement art class in her senior year of high school.

"I owe much of my artistic success to that year" and especially to her art teacher, Hyatt-Wade, Orscheln said in an email. "Had I landed in any other art program, or in no art program at all, my young mind would not have been able to focus its creative drives."

An online petition, "Reinstate the Undergraduate Art Education Program at MU," calls for the College of Education to reconsider its decision. The petition had 454 signatures as of Tuesday evening. A Facebook page, Save Mizzou Art Ed, had 2,982 likes as of Tuesday evening. 

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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Michael Williams February 25, 2014 | 9:58 p.m.

"...the number of graduates still averages fewer than 10 each year"

Is the above statement correct?

Or incorrect?

Everything else is secondary.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Modelski February 26, 2014 | 10:25 a.m.

Dear Michael Williams,

Thank you for your question. My name is Kevin Modelski, and I was one of the reporters on the story.

I was just commenting to let you know that the statement from Daniel Clay, the dean of the College of Education, is written word-for-word from the press release. We are attributing this information to Clay, as that statement reflects his words.

Unfortunately it is a little hard to say how correct he is at this point. We are simply attributing Clay as he said it in the College of Education's official press release. We are following up with the story just to confirm the numbers.

Thank you very much for your question.


Kevin Modelski

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 26, 2014 | 10:32 a.m.

It's possible (I don't have the data, but they're available) that the number of Mining Engineers and Petroleum Engineers graduating from MS&T annually may at least in some years be ten or less; however, Petroleum Engineers in particular have started work - no prior experience - for as much as $100K. That's with only a BS degree. Starting salaries for Mining Engineers are less but still quite good.

How many MU, UMKC and UMSL graduates with a BS or BA receive starting salaries of $100K (and frequently multiple job offers)?

Maybe deciding where to make cuts in programs should also consider UTILITY OF THE DEGREE.

PS: There's no program duplication in Missouri for these two majors or for Metallurgical Engineers or Ceramic Engineers.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 26, 2014 | 11:15 a.m.

Ellis: That's a really good point...."utility of the degree". I'm unsure who would make that decision, however. In this particular case, it seem clear. In others...hmmm....I don't know.

Kevin: Thanks for the info.

Ellis again: How would you respond if I said something obnoxious like this: "Programs graduating 10-or-less students each year within a given discipline/specialty should be considered for reduction or elimination at that institution and merged with other similar in-state AND out-of-state programs."

I'm trying to get a handle on this.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 26, 2014 | 3:00 p.m.


Fine, if you HAVE a similar program (in state or out of state) to merge with; in the specific cases I cited there are none.

One situation that actually DID occur for years between Kansas and Missouri was a reciprosity agreement whereby Kansas residents could take certain majors at what is today MS&T without having to pay out-of-state tuition, whereas Missouri residents could take certain majors at KU without having to pay out-of-state tuition.

Considering the attitudes then and now between MU and KU you might forgive us (MS&T) for finding the arrangement horribly funny. :) But the arrangement really existed, and I personally know Kansans who took advantage of it.

If they chose to do so, public universities in adjacent states could use such methods of reducing program duplication - BUT THEY WILL ONLY DO SO WHILE BEING DRAGGED, KICKING AND SCREAMING.

There'a more than one way to skin a cat, but first you must agree to skin the cat.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Modelski February 26, 2014 | 3:38 p.m.

Dear Michael Williams,

I received a list of the number of graduates in the undergraduate art education program over the past 10 academic years. These statistics were sent to me by Barbara Peterson, the strategic communications director for the College of Education, who obtained them from the Student Information Systems at MU Enrollment Management.

They are:

AY2012-2013 = 7
AY2011-2012 = 11
AY2010-2011 = 8
AY2009-2010 = 2
AY2008-2009 = 7
AY2007-2008 = 12
AY2006-2007 = 7
AY2005-2006 = 7
AY2004-2005 = 6
AY2003-2004 = 4

Thank you for your question.

Kevin Modelski

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 26, 2014 | 5:31 p.m.

Kevin: Thanks for the info. Not many graduates.

Ellis: Am I correct that the original emphasis of MS&T was in mining, specifically Pb mining?

There are NO other universities in the US with engineering degrees in mining and petroleum??? If there are, what are the differences between MS&T and the others? If not, where do mining and petroleum engineers come from?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 26, 2014 | 7:16 p.m.


The campus today called MS&T is the first public institution in the United States to grant degrees in Mining and Metallurgy.

Actually, all members of the first graduating class (1874) went to work in Colorado. (Colorado School of Mines wasn't established until 1874, so there would have been no CSM graduates in 1874.)

As I've posted before, Engineering curricula are established and monitored by ABET (Google them). For any specific branch of engineering the curricula are very closely defined, and are essentially the same no matter the ABET accredited institution. That's VERY different from some other college curricula.

Ceramic Engineering = 2 programs in the USA
Metallurgical Engineeering = 7 programs in the USA
Petroleum Engineering = 17 programs in the USA
Mining Engineering = don't know, but it's less than 20 (could be less than 10)

In good economic times and bad, graduates of these programs have NO problems finding employment; seldom is there a surplus of graduates, and in good times graduates can count on multiple job offers. (Utility!)

(Report Comment)

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