(Wester Groves, MO, April 13, 2011) Faculty at Webster University gathered in the library conference room on Tuesday, April 12 at 3 p.m. to vote on an amendment that would add fine arts as a requirement to the new proposed general education requirements. Faculty decided to move the vote to a paper ballot instead of voting in the conference room by raising hands.
“The arts have always played a prominent role at Webster University and continue to be a source of pride, with programs garnering national acclaim,” according to a letter by the Consevatory of Theatre Arts to the faculty assembly. “A general education curriculum which does not include a minimal introduction to the arts discredits the historic value of the arts at Webster.”
The suggested art requirement states that students have a choice in adding courses from the art department. The new proposed plan will require students to choose from outlined art courses.
“I’m happy the faculty will have the opportunity to vote,” Dottie Marshall Englis, the chair in the conservatory theater arts department said. “I’m happy that we didn’t postpone.”
The new general education requirements were voted on Feb. 8, but faculty members thought that discussion of the arts amendment should be delayed. Some of the faculty members in attendance thought the focus should be on making the program work and adding more to the new program.
Tom Lang, a chair in the department of visual arts, made a proposal to include the arts amendment in the general education requirements when it was first proposed, but it was received too late.
Karla Armbruster, a professor in the English department, said she approves of including art as a requirement.
“They are very popular courses,” Ambruster said. “We think it’s important for students to get the message that the arts are valuable.”
The program is designed to give students more choice and, by adding the arts requirement, it changes the already proposed program.
“We just really want the arts to be highlighted for the implementation phase,” English said.
The different categories of art courses would include dance, creative writing and musical theater. According to a letter submitted by the Conservatory of Theatre Arts, these courses will help students develop knowledge of human artistic expression and gain analysis through reflection and practical experience.
The room also debated over the salary issue for professors at Webster.
“We made it through the entire agenda,” Olliges said, “I was happy with that.”
By the end of the meeting, the faculty voted to use paper ballot on all the proposals. Olliges will send out a separate colored ballot for each topic to make sure that there’s no confusion on his end.
During the discussion certain professors stood to make a positive declaration for the arts appreciation amendment. Some of the faculty members in attendance said they considered the arts as a way of understand human expression.
“A lot of these courses provide knowledge through practice,” Armbruster said.