Last spring, David Greenhalgh, Dean of Arts and Sciences, announced an administrative change: a new performing arts division.
“It seemed to me that each of these [programs] have grown and have unique demands,” Greenhalgh said.
Space for lessons and rehearsals, as well as pedagogical needs and the art students’ commuting to Rosemont, are some of those demands, according to Greenhalgh.
“It would have been premature earlier, because the programs were fairly small, and still are, but the smallness is offset by the uniqueness of their work,” he said.
The new division includes music, theatre, dance, studio art, and art history. Before the new division was formed, these disciplines were part of the humanities division. The change occurred primarily because of Greenhalgh’s initiative.
According to Joselli Deans, professor of dance, an arts division had been talked about in the past but was not acted upon.
“It was really Dean Greenhalgh’s brainchild,” she said.
One of Greenhalgh’s responsibilities was to choose a new division chair, and he appointed music professor Ron Matthews to the position.
Matthews said his two goals for the division this year are to examine the present programs and to address the facility needs.
“The music department needs to address growth,” he said. As of last fall, music was one of Eastern’s biggest majors.
One plan in the works is an extension to Workman Hall. While the annex would primarily be for the music department, Matthews said that dance and the visual arts would be able to use it as well. He added that the building would most likely be a three to five year project and would cost around $10 million.
“We [the dance program] hope to have input on Workman,” said Deans, who is also the interim dance program coordinator while Karen Clemente is on sabbatical.
She also hopes that “the facility will match the needs of the students.” As a smaller division, acting apart from the Humanities, she thinks it may be easier for the art programs to be productive.
Theatre director Mark Hallen was not available for comment on the new division.
One change that has not been planned yet is an addition to the breadth requirements. While students are required to take classes from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences departments, they will not be required to take a performing arts class. Greenhalgh expects that the division will address this issue in the coming year.
Deans hopes that the new division will be better for the different performing art programs in other ways as well.
“I understand the needs of an artist-we have a similar understanding,” she said of the arts faculty.