Art and design department seeks specialized accreditation

Cassidy Alexander

Brittany Gorelick works on a printmaking project in the Fine Arts Building. Printmaking classes are offered through the Art and Design Department. Photo by Cassidy Alexander
Brittany Gorelick works on a printmaking project in the Fine Arts Building. Printmaking classes are offered through the Art and Design Department.
Photo by Cassidy Alexander

UNF’s art and design department is seeking prestigious, specialized accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and department head Dr. Debra Murphy is confident that the department will get it.

While UNF itself is an accredited institution, there are more specialized options for some departments, which is what the art and design department is working toward. The department, which was established in 2004, had always planned to apply for the accreditation.

“We wanted to go for this NASAD accreditation, but we were waiting rather strategically to increase in size and stature,” Murphy said.

Only four other state schools in Florida – UF, FSU, FIU and USF – have this accreditation, according to Murphy. She speculates that this has less to do with the strength of a school’s department, and more to do with the “demanding” application process.

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Graphic by Cassidy Alexander

Applicant schools must submit a lengthy “self-study,” a report on the department, to NASAD. Murphy said the in-depth report covers facilities, faculty, student accomplishments, study abroad programs, assessment – everything that has to do with the department.

Then, they are visited by evaluators from the association. UNF’s visit happened in the spring of 2015. Two evaluators took tours of the facilities and spoke to professors, students and administrators within the department and above.

In July, the evaluators submitted a report to UNF, which UNF responded to in September. Now, UNF has until September 2016 to make changes needed to achieve accreditation and submit another report to NASAD.

“We’ve just heard that we did very well, but there are a few things that we need to ensure that we’ll do,” Murphy said. “For example, we did not require our art history majors to take a non-western [art history course]…That was an easy fix.”

Murphy said that it’s very rare for institutions to receive full accreditation on their first attempt, and that NASAD was very complimentary of UNF’s program.

“They want us to have the accreditation,” Murphy said. “They’re very encouraging…I’m confident that we’ll get it.”

Achieving the accreditation would add an element of prestige and respect to the program, but won’t necessarily change a student’s experience with the department.

“I like to think that we have a really great cake, and this is icing…I don’t know that you need this to have an excellent department,” Murphy said.

The department is currently making changes and improvements to meet NASAD standards.

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