The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.

Page  61Department of Art. — The establishment of separate departments in architecture and art in 1954 signified the extent to which these disciplines developed along individual and increasingly complex lines. The Bachelor of Design degree, established in the mid-30s, signified the combination of traditional "fine arts" education with then relatively new concepts of basic design which were deemed common to all disciplines taught in the College. Still unusual in 1940, similar programs became widespread in major United States art schools after World War II, although rarely in conjunction with the academic resources available at Michigan.

The degree titles underwent change. By 1959 the commonly recognized Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts were adopted. The design degree was phased out by 1973 although the design curriculum remained a vital constituent of the art program.

A departmental organization based on a chairman, with effective standing committees, proved to be sound. In the new School of Art a version of this structure continues to be used. Robert Iglehart was appointed the first chairman of the Department of Art in 1955. He clearly stated that the primary object of the department was to offer professional education in the various art areas — painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, advertising design, industrial design, interior design, and photography.

In the period following World War II a college education was regarded as an essential qualification for usefulness in the design professions and the fine arts in general. Serious attention was given to photography, cinematography, and television as art forms as well as elements of the exploding graphic design industry.

In 1954 the program in art education was established to serve the needs of the elementary certification program of the School of Education and to provide the specialized requirements of secondary school certification in art. By predicating high school certification on completion of the bachelor degree requirements in art, as well as state education obligations, the University produced well-qualified artist-teachers.

Since the middle 1930s, three design disciplines — industrial design, interior design, and advertising design — have been taught at Michigan. The scope of advertising design in recent times has been acknowledged by adoption Page  62of the terms graphic design and visual communications on a somewhat interchangeable basis.

The industrial design program, guided by Aare Lahti from 1940 until his retirement in 1973, early had a strong relationship with the crafts movement. Later cooperative projects with urban planning and architecture were succeeded by emphasis on links with engineering projects such as the urban vehicle programs of 1973 and 1974. Professor Alfredo Montalvo, a designer, architect, and film maker, succeeded Professor Lahti in 1973.

Interior design, oriented to architecture, was first taught by Professor Catherine Heller. Upon her retirement in 1964, she was succeeded by another Michigan architect, William Carter. Growth of the program brought the appointment of Robert Hanamura, also an architect and artist, in 1973.

Advertising design, developed by Donald Gooch, reflected in content the expanding range of skills found in the modern visual communication field — lettering and calligraphy, typography, still and motion picture photography, television graphics, corporate identity, and packaging. Many of these specialties are major arts in their own right which students are encouraged to elect as parallel concentrations. Following the appointment of Professor Korten in 1964, a Creative Advertising/Communication Arts Workshop was developed as an interdisciplinary senior-level course for students in graphic design, journalism, TV and film, creative writing, and marketing.

A fundamental education in art requires a strong basic program in drawing, especially life drawing, as well as basic design. Such a program is essential to what are called the "fine arts." This term is loosely applied to all non-design concentrations. The majors in the fine arts were expanded upon faculty reviews of the 1952-57 period. Four-term undergraduate concentrations were developed in painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, and ceramics and were available as concentrations at the Master of Arts level. In 1974 and 1975 two more majors were approved in weaving and fabric design, and jewelry and metalwork.

The occupation of the new School of Art in 1974 permitted an extension in all the above fields. It is possible for a student to pursue work in a given concentration for three years at the undergraduate level, while the fully-equipped studios satisfy the needs of graduate work in any area. In addition, supplementary facilities Page  63exist for work in television and cinematography. The art student is expected to become proficient in more than one art area and to be more than ordinarily interested and able in selected academic pursuits.

The quality of admitted students was such that by 1968 the faculty reduced course requirements to a minimum, involving only fundamentals in freshman art and English, plus a strong history of art sequence. All other work in art and academics became elective. Student educational goals are limited only by the capacity of the various departmental courses and the ability of the student. Special requirements such as art and science preparation for Medical Illustration can be met under the Bachelor of Fine Arts program.

The study of education objectives undertaken by the art faculty in the 1955-59 period paid particular attention to the purposes and limitations of graduate education in art. Proposals of the art faculty were approved by the Rackham Board of Governors in March, 1959. The existing Master of Arts degree was especially revised to serve the purposes of secondary school teachers interested in reinforcing their studio experience in a one-year program. A new two-year degree, the Master of Fine Arts, was authorized which paralleled new criteria for studio art instruction at the college level then being established by the national collegiate art organizations. The two-year Master of Fine Arts subsequently became the accepted terminal degree for studio art education.

Graduate admissions have been carefully controlled to respect the capacity of the School as well as the restricted market for college instructors. The enrollment since 1962 has ranged from 36 to 45 students in the fall term count. The number of applications gradually rose, the ratio of applicants to acceptances reaching 15 to 1 in the mid-70s.

In 1962 discussions were undertaken with the Medical School and University Hospital authorities regarding proposals for a graduate program in medical and scientific illustration. In the fall of 1964 the study resulted in the initiation of the Master of Science in Medical and Biological Illustration with Professor Gerald Hodge as chairman of the program. With funding and shelter provided by the Medical Center, the program has become one of the most respected in North America. The three openings available per year now draw up to 1,250 inquiries.

Page  64The postwar boom in undergraduate admissions created difficult physical problems. To meet the flood of qualified students, the art faculty nearly doubled in number between 1954 and 1960. The need for some control of admissions, other than just meeting academic qualifications, was pressed by Chairman Iglehart. The appointment of an Associate Dean to handle art admissions was approved, and William Lewis was named to the position effective with the winter 1967 term. The establishment that year of a portfolio review as part of the admissions process tended, over the subsequent ten years, to lower the number of applicants while raising their qualifications as artists. Academic measurements remained level over that period and enrollment was stabilized.

As early as 1960, half the admissions to art were transfer students. With the extension of community colleges, the number of qualified transfer applicants rose. In 1974 a third more transfer students were accepted than freshmen, and a significant fraction of the transfers were from other University units.

Though the design of the new building provided for a 50 percent increase in enrolled students, limited finances precluded any significant expansion of faculty or student body when the plant was completed. Rather than increase the admission of freshmen, a slight increase in transfer students was approved in 1974, while additional sections of basic studio courses were added to provide for more non-art students. Sufficient additional classes were offered so that art credits elected by non-art students rose 90 percent between 1973 and 1975. This "salting" of art studio and lecture sections with students from other units proved to be a workable means for negotiating a cross-campus transfer for those students so concerned.

The budgetary problems affected programs in art as in other areas. The deepening money crisis, and the death in 1971 of Professor Gerald Mast, closed the resident program in Grand Rapids, which has been supported by the Extension Service and the Art Department. Art participation in state-wide extension offerings was severly limited by 1974.

A two-week summer program for selected high school students was initiated in 1965 in cooperation with the Bureau of School Services. Although successful and popular, the funding shortage closed the program after six sessions.

Page  65In 1969 Robert Iglehart retired from the chairmanship of the department. Thomas Larkin took the post for a three-year term to allow the department to conduct a thorough search for an educator willing to accept a longer appointment.

Participation of students in the noncurricular activity of the Art Department was sporadic prior to 1968. Exhibitions, the annual College open-house, and similar events occurred at intervals. Government, as such, was nearly nonexistent. Design students worked on the College publication Dimension issued from time to time.

Under Larkin's chairmanship, departmental meetings and committees were opened to student participation. Students accepted their inclusion seriously and contributed hours of work to a number of committee assignments, notably the ongoing chairmanship search committee, the counseling and curriculum committees, and at a later time, the proceedings of the Norman Committee on the College structure and deanship. Senior student advisers have proved invaluable during classification and registration. Student participation contributed materially to the decision to invite George Bayliss to the chairmanship which he accepted effective in the fall term 1972. The year 1969 marked the rise of the Black Action Movement on campus. Most students were openly sympathetic, and the strike was accepted as an expression of belief, but the work in Architecture and Design appeared to go on regardless.

The goals for minority enrollment and employment were accepted in good faith; the field of art has had limited attraction to minority and other underprivileged students, partly due to the uncertain economic rewards of an art career. Black faculty continue in short supply, and capable Black artists remain in demand in the professions as well as education. Since 1965 the department has gained, and lost in turn, several excellent Black teachers.

The number of minority students in the undergraduate program had grown slowly to about 8 percent in 1975, while the much smaller graduate program varied from 5 to 30 percent in minority enrollment between 1968 and 1975. In 1975 art students, with assistance from the Opportunity Program were found to be maintaining a grade-point average of 2.8, with two students establishing the only 4.0 in the School of Art.

In recent years the major interest of students has been less in committee work, other than counseling, and Page  66much more in participation in School operations under the work-study programs. This activity and the yearly production of a most remarkable "Art Student's Survival Manual" were of great value to the Art School.

The 1974 establishment of a School of Art and move to the new facility culminated a quarter century of development and growth which created endless problems for students and faculty in the old Architecture and Design building. The critical reaccreditation report of the National Association of Schools of Art in 1966 outlined the extent to which the facilities fell short of acceptable minima. Despite increasingly tighter budgets, the University administration did what it could to find workable space. For a short time some of the art programs were housed in the old Argus factory. The ceramics and graduate painting programs used a converted commercial garage in 1969, while industrial design found shelter in the basement of the School of Education, and the advertising design staff was set up in a nearby vacant house. Years of work by faculty of the College in defining the nature of the projected North Campus building proved to be worth it. Careful attention to the planning and construction by the building committee and other concerned faculty insured that much of what was desired was actually obtained. Professor William Carter rendered outstanding service in gaining a workable and well-equipped art school in the new building.

In 1972 Professor Bayliss became chairman of the department in time to participate in the completion of the major building. The year 1972 also saw the retirement of five senior faculty men, Professors Gooch, Lahti, LaMore, Prendergast, and Weddige, whose total service to the University exceeded 160 years. In 1973 and 1974 nine new faculty were appointed, an application for a Ford Foundation Grant culminated in the award of $150,000 to be matched by the department, and the Department of Art became the new School of Art, Chairman Bayliss becoming Dean Bayliss, while Associate Dean Lewis of Architecture and Design became Associate Dean of the new Art School. The transfer to North Campus was followed by an academic year of curious excitement with the new building, the new school, new faculty, new funds, and satisfying expansions of curriculums and facilities. The dedication ceremony in April, 1975, conducted in the new gallery, saw the participation of the chief officers of the University and those state officials and legislators deeply involved in the achievement of the building project. Later in the spring of 1975 an appropriate ceremony marked the dedication of the gallery in honor Page  67of Jean Paul Slusser, Emeritus Professor of Art and Emeritus Director of the Museum of Art.