The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s College of the Arts has seen an increase in enrollment, and is looking to expand in many places, including the publishing of a digital magazine highlighting its students, developing more ways to support its students and faculty and possibly gaining a new building.
Daryl Moore, dean of the College of the Arts, shared that this semester, enrollment for the college is up by approximately 13%. Because of that, part of his job has been to ensure the university is able to give the college the support that it needs.
In doing so, some preliminary talks have been had about the possibility of the College of the Arts expanding to a new building. Parker Hall, which is located next to the Visual Arts Annex and currently houses the Office of Facility Management, may eventually be vacated and allow the College of the Arts to add to its classroom and studio space.
Moore shared that the hope is for this to happen within the next two years. Although no concrete plans have been made yet, initial talks were promising.
“It’s a possibility, it hasn’t been promised to us. But it was a very good conversation that I had regarding that space being vacated. And it wasn’t just a conversation, the goals were the same,” Moore said.
In the meantime, the college is working to ensure that they’re using the space they currently have between Fletcher Hall and the Visual Arts Annex as effectively as they can.
“We’re looking at capacity, and making sure we’re making effective use of all the space that we actually have. And folks in the college, we’re doing that. And where we might be able to have some shared studios across disciplines, we’re going to be doing that as well,” Moore said.
“But clearly we need more studio space. And that’s not a point lost on the provost or the president, they understand that.”
Moore also shared his focus on the faculty and how important it is to support them to ensure that students can have the best experience possible from the college.
“I started out in higher education after working in professional practice for many years, as an adjunct. So I started out just teaching part time, so I have a pretty good perspective on the faculty experience having come from the faculty. And so that said, I have never budged off the notion that really the backbone of any university, college, institution really, is the strength of the faculty. And we’ve got a really strong one here,” Moore said.
Moore is currently working to ensure that the faculty is supported in their personal and professional development, and that new faculty are able to focus on what they need to be successful. Moore’s goal is for faculty to be able to bring their real-world experiences to the classroom to help give students the best opportunity to be successful after graduating.
The success of students is important to Moore, especially when many remain unconvinced that those studying art can make a living from it. He said that even now, parents are asking some of the same questions they did when he was in school.
“‘Can they get a job? Artists, they can never find jobs.’ But it’s not true. There’s real data, with real numbers, like the millions and billions of dollars that the arts contribute to GDP, and across all of the disciplines that we have represented here,” Moore said.
While students majoring in art may be discouraged by those telling them they won’t find work, many different opportunities exist so long as they’re open to them, even if they might not be their dream job.
“Students have to be, I think, open to understanding you might start out over here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to this other place. So long as they can see and understand what’s going to be needed to get to that other place,” Moore said.
Making connections is important as well, and Moore shared that he wants to establish a formal entity within the college dedicated to supporting that, as well as helping students to see the various opportunities available to them.
“We need to make sure we are establishing networks, connections where we can, not just regionally in the state of Louisiana. I know a lot of folks coming out, they think they may not necessarily want to leave the state, but it’s a big world out there, a lot of opportunities,” Moore said.
As the semester continues, the College of the Arts is also planning on producing a digital publication to highlight the work of its students, which is set to come out by the end of October. Further details will be shared in the coming weeks via the college’s social media channels.