Queen’s suspends Fine Art program admissions

Admissions paused for two years, current students to remain on track

The program was previously suspended in 2011.
Journal File Photo

Queen’s has scrapped admissions to the Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) program for now.

The Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) officially decided to suspend the BFA program last Thursday after months of uncertainty. Admissions to the program are on pause for the next two years, while the FAS attempts to revamp it in a way that makes it viable.

“It’s not a decision that is taken lightly,” Warren Mabee, associate dean (FAS), said in an interview with The Journal. “We’re doing this to build a better program.”

Mabee said the decision was made due to students’ concerns over the program’s structure as it was set to undergo a government-mandated cyclical program review. He said it was “not budget driven.”

The University previously suspended the program in 2011 due to a lack of funding.

The program is composed of six-or-nine-unit studio courses which, according to Mabee, make it difficult for students to go on exchange or complete minors.

Current BFA students will remain enrolled in the program and will be unaffected by the suspension. Mabee said every BFA student will be able to complete their program as planned, and FAS Dean Barbara Crow is “strongly committed” to supporting them.

The FAS will reach out to the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) and Department Student Councils (DSCs) to help support BFA students who may feel “pressure” from not having a cohort behind them, Mabee added.

Mabee said the decision is the result of a “detailed and long” consultation process, which has been ongoing since September. Students were consulted during this process.

“I know this has been a drawn-out process for students,” Mabee said. “I’m conscious of that. I wish there was a way to pull that stress away.”

According to Mabee, Crow notified BFA faculty, staff, and students of the decision, as well as Faculty Board last Friday. The next step is notifying Senate on Feb. 28—which previously discussed the issue at the end of January.

Students who applied for 2023 entry into the BFA program were previously notified of a potential suspension by the FAS. Mabee said the FAS will work with these students to find them a place elsewhere at Queen’s if they so desire.

“We’re hopeful we’ve given them enough heads-up—enough warning,” Mabee said.

During the two-year suspension, the FAS will strike a committee to tackle the “renewal” of the BFA program and redevelopment of its curricula, Mabee said. Crow will review the progress throughout, and potentially lift the suspension early.

“Two years does give us enough time to do a lot of work and re-invest in the program in a way that I think is going to give us a really strong option for students,” Mabee said.

He added Crow is committed to the re-departmentalization of the program—placing BFA faculty and staff within the Department of Art History and Art Conservation. The FAS will form another committee to pursue this promise.

Mabee said the FAS will consider student input throughout the renewal process.

In advocating for the continuation of their program, BFA students previously suggested it be re-departmentalized under the Department of Art History and Art Conservation. The two departments were one in the past. 

“We’re committed to the teaching of Fine Art,” Mabee said. “I can say that with absolute certainty.”

The Fine Art DSC was unavailable for comment.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.