Starting this spring, University of Alaska Southeast art majors can take a more art-centric course load.
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The UAS Board of Regents approved a bachelor's degree in art on Sept. 20. The new program allows 18 more credit hours in art than what the university had offered: a bachelor of liberal arts degree with an emphasis in art.
In other words, students will have more room in their schedule to take upper-division courses and tailor their art focus.
A bachelor's in art is a "more traditional stepping stone" for graduate programs, said Alice Tersteeg, a UAS art professor.
"We wanted to be able to offer the most recognizable degree that we could," she said. "If they're interested in going into graduate school, if they're interested in any sort of job related to art, such as graphic arts, designing, teaching or running a gallery, there are a wide number of classes or jobs that a BA in art will automatically open the doors for you."
"There are students out there who have been waiting for this to happen and who should know about it," Jane Terzis, a UAS art professor, said.
Students can apply for the bachelor's degree this semester. Admission will start in the spring.
The university then will have five degree options for art students: the bachelor of arts degree in art; the bachelor of liberal arts with an emphasis in art; an art minor; a minor in Northwest coast art; or a certificate in Northwest coast art.
The BLA requires 30 art credits and a handful of credits in other emphasis areas. The BA requires 48 art credits. That means students can focus in a few different areas of art.
"What was happening before was that students would have to take such a wide variety of classes that they didn't have any credits left over to take an upper division art class," Tersteeg said.
UAS has offered the BLA degree since the 1993-94 school year and will continue to offer it. One of the BLA's problems, Tersteeg said, is that it's not "universally recognized."
Tersteeg and the art department began developing the degree program two years ago, first looking at the structure of art degrees on other campuses.
Tersteeg and the art faculty also talked to students to gauge the popularity of a BA program. Many of the 48 art majors at UAS were receptive, she said.
It remains to be seen how many students will apply for the degree, and how long-term interest will affect the variety of art courses offered at UAS.
"The university is very careful about expanding programs," Terzis said. "We want to do this in a sustainable way."
This spring, former Juneau resident John Fehringer will teach three classes in digital fine art as an artist-in-residence. He was a popular artist here, and well-known for his airbrush work. Fehringer has been living for the last 15 years in Seattle, where's he's established a successful career in digital fine art and airbrushing.
"(Digital art) is an area we need to expand in," Tersteeg said. "It's a very exciting opportunity to have an artist of this caliber, who's done computer graphics for so many years."