Message Regarding Fine Arts Faculty at Parsons
NEW YORK, April 8, 2009 -- The following is a message from Sven Travis, Interim Dean of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons; Lydia Matthews, Parsons Associate Design of Academic Programs; and New School Interim Provost Tim Marshall:
As you may be aware, some concerns have been expressed about changes occurring in the Fine Arts
program at Parsons. We are writing to help clarify these issues and put them in context, especially
since some of the communication around these issues may have contributed to confusion.
Parsons is investing in the Fine Arts program and supporting its continued excellence. This is
occurring in a number of ways:
Extending teaching across undergraduate and graduate programs. Part-time and full-time faculty are
now increasingly teaching in both the BFA and MFA programs so that students can better access the
variety of perspectives and practices of our highly talented senior and junior faculty. This practice is
widely recognized to both strengthen retention rates and enable recruitment of the best students.
Expanding and strengthening the curriculum. New courses are being introduced to strengthen the fine
arts program’s focus on contemporary issues such as globalization, diversity, political agency, and
new technologies. These are shared themes in other Parsons programs and will open up
opportunities for students and faculty to collaborate across disciplines in the School of Art, Media,
and Technology, and even more broadly with other programs at Parsons and The New School.
These curricular enhancements grew out of external and internal reviews including a peer review by
the Parsons curriculum committee. We have also convened a task force to advise on the planning
and implementation of curricular changes moving forward. This task force includes both full-time
and part-time faculty members.
Investing in new leadership and full-time faculty. In the past two years we have appointed
internationally noted artists Anthony Aziz to head the MFA program and Coco Fusco as chair of the
department. In 2009-10 we will add a new full-time faculty member in Fine Arts.
With these changes, the teaching needs for 2009-10 have changed. As a result, six adjunct faculty
members will not have the teaching assignments they had expected. To put this in context, there are
39 adjunct faculty members in the Fine Arts program and nearly 1000 across Parsons. We take
seriously our obligation to these faculty members and we are optimistic that we will have alternate
teaching assignments to offer them by June 1.
The openness of the Fine Arts community to change has been heartening but the concern for the
individual faculty members whose assignments are shifting is understandable. These concerns have
stimulated some of the recent press you may have seen. We have been in conversation with faculty
and students to address their concerns, and we will continue to do so.
There is much good news from Fine Arts that shouldn’t be eclipsed by recent issues. The Fine Arts
faculty are now part of a broader academic community in the School of Art, Media, and
Technology, where they are actively sharing ideas and resources, envisioning ways to team-teach, and
planning extra-curricular events--all of which will provide expanded opportunities for our students.
The quality of applicants to the MFA is exceptionally strong, and students are very excited to be
entering the program next year. And we were especially pleased to learn that a MFA student, Kyung
Eun Kang, was chosen to attend Skowhegan, the highly competitive and prestigious summer artist
residency. This is the kind of excellence and distinction that we intend to continue fostering in our
Fine Arts program in the years to come, both through continued support of our faculty and the
cultivation of an increasingly rigorous, dynamic and wide-ranging curriculum for our students.