The art department has faced budget cuts recently, which have not only affected students, but also staff and administration as well.
While the intent was to facilitate more funds toward newly created university initiatives, the collateral damage that the cuts caused was either not prepared for or ignored completely.
“Budget cuts have caused a shortage of resources,” senior art student Hannah Westhoven said. “Last semester in the ceramics room, we weren’t provided with paper towels. Ceramics is a messier class, so we would have to walk to the bathroom every time we needed them, which was definitely an inconvenience.”
If a lack of paper towels, an inexpensive product that can be purchased in bulk almost anywhere, was the only concern that the art department was facing from the budget cuts, it would be a very different situation. But it doesn’t stop at paper towels.
“Compared to other universities around us, our art program seems to be lacking,” senior interdisciplinary studies and multimedia art major Adam Coffman said. “We have a basement and a couple classrooms and that’s it. But that’s not the only problem. We don’t have basic supplies for our students, and we fail to promote the amazing work that does come from this program. Columbus State seems more equipped for an art department than we do at times, and that’s a community college.”
As stated before, students aren’t the only people that are living in the consequences of the budget cuts. The cuts are having a direct effect on professors as well.
“Even more unfortunate is the effect the budget cuts are having on our professors,” Westhoven said. “Almost all of our art professors are adjuncts, and many of them put in much more time than required and even purchase supplies out of pocket. Sadly we’ve had some really great professors leave the department, which is a huge loss for the students.”
Despite these struggles and lack of funds, both Coffman and Westhoven have been able to enjoy their time spent within the art program.
“Even though I’ve faced challenges here, I feel that I’ve grown and improved as an artist,” Coffman said. “Before my time at Capital, I had little to no experience in digital design. Thanks to the updates at the CMC and all it is able to provide to us as students, I have been able to expand my portfolio and further develop my skills.”
New chair of the art department, professor Lois Foreman-Wernet, has a more positive outlook for where the art program is headed.
“I am actually quite optimistic about the future of the art program,” Foreman-Wernet said. “We have a new full-time faculty member, professor Ramya Ravisankar, who is doing a fantastic job, and we also have several new adjunct faculty members this year. The Convergent Media Center, and the growth of its associated academic programs, also is positively affecting art, especially the digital art and graphic design areas. And finally, art therapy continues to be a strong and important program.”
While money was cut away from the art department’s budget for new university initiatives, Foreman-Wernet sees it as a way to eventually put back and enhance the program.
“My sense of the strategic planning process that the university is currently undergoing is that art will play an important role in the years to come,” Foreman-Wernet said. “I’m excited about the opportunities for both art and communication in fulfilling the vision that is taking shape under President Paul’s leadership.”