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“As the students of the Corcoran College of Art + Design, we’ve seen our community hollowed out.”

by Prince Of Petworth June 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm 7 Comments

corcoran_letter
Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

Thanks to a reader for passing on:

“Dear George Washington University,

As the students of the Corcoran College of Art + Design, we’ve seen our community hollowed out. Our faculty, staff and peers, the lifeblood of this institution, are struggling to define their future purposes in the Corcoran as it moves beneath the umbrella of your institution and the National Gallery of Art. Our administration informs us that the Corcoran’s curricula, buildings and the very people that make up our school are at risk for termination – or already dismissed. The future students of the CCA+D may enter a school that in no way resembles our beloved family.

The most important aspect and promise of this institutional agreement is that we function as our own “academic unit within the university’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.” The recent news of our entire staff’s termination, the infrastructure and institutional memory of our school, renders that promise moot and physically and spiritually guts our community and mission.

Since March 2013, we have repeatedly asked the Corcoran Director’s Office for a voice in decision-making processes and planning conversations going forward. We have been polite in our requests and made our concerns and priorities clear. Over the course of the last 15 months we have been granted a total of three meetings. It is our conclusion that the Directors’ Office neither listens to, nor represents, our point of view, thus we ask to engage with you directly.

Our appeals are simple and reasonable: honor your original promise. Let us keep the spirit of the Corcoran intact. We define that spirit as an extension of the Corcoran’s mission statement: Dedicated to Art and the Encouragement of American Genius. This occurs daily in our classrooms and galleries; it thrives as a result of our professors’ fostering our artistic abilities; it evolves as a result of interdepartmental collaboration; it is realized by our public exhibitions and our engagement with the global community.

We know and understand that things must change. We envision our small college

thriving within your university and becoming the 21st-Century art school about which you have spoken. Your actions function as an undermining of this very goal, and a destruction of everything that we have built over so many years. You don’t want this. You don’t want to start from scratch. You don’t want a demoralized student body and faculty. We think, as the students who came to this amazing arts school, that you would want all of the energy, the knowledge and legacy to be the foundation of this new and exciting center of the arts.

We realize that concessions must be made, but in order to retain any of the amazing qualities of our college, we require, first and foremost, its people. We require the immediate rehiring of key staff and a commitment for the employment of our faculty matching their commitment at the Corcoran. We require stability for our community outreach programs, including NEXT, ArtReach, Gallery 31, and all existing student organizations. We require intimate and interdisciplinary settings in which to learn from our professors. We require our faculty’s autonomy to create and administer our curricula. And we require a commitment from you to come forth with a plan for a collaborative vision.

Most importantly, these issues need to be addressed publicly and with the highest level of transparency. At all future discussions we need to have a meaningful presence and voice.

We ask for a consistent series of meetings scheduled with a representative student group and GWU representation, including Dean Ben Vinson.

Please add your name in support here.

Sincerely,
The Corcoran Student Body
Corcoran Student Council
Alumni Steering Committee”

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