Changes occur in art department

Bob Sirko, the chair of the Art Department, has been working on some curriculum changes recently. One of the changes taking place is the shift to a 45-credit major.

In the coming semesters the Department of Art at Valparaiso University will undergo some changes and revisions. The Department of Art has strived to allow their students to develop a clear understanding of the critical information that is needed to help them to pursue their dreams of completing an art major or minor. Currently the Department of Art has two different degree programs available to students.

One program is the Bachelor of Arts, which requires a student to complete 30 credit hours, the equivalent of 10 art courses. The other program is the Bachelor of Science and Fine Arts, which requires a student to receive a minimum of 54 credit hours. VU is now planning to take a different approach in order to make improvements to the way the art major has been in past years.

Aimee Tomasek, the Assistant Professor of Art Photography, provided information regarding the new changes that VU’s students will be experiencing rather soon.

“Professor Sirko, the chair of the department, initiated this a couple years ago, and we worked as a department to isolate and identify what students’ needs were and how they were evolving from the program that we had already created,” Tomasek said.

Many of these changes are motivated by the need to modernize the program to adapt to technological advancements.

“We obviously have a digital track now, and that has evolved from the traditional art studio foundations because of students’ interest and employment needs. All of the trends that follow electronic media need to be addressed in our department in art-making as well,” Tomasek said.

The art department has identified the importance and priority of still maintaining a very strong studio foundation with drawing, painting, sculptures and ceramics, because that fortifies everything else that they are doing electronically. The department staff figures that if a student does not know how to draw, then they are not going to be able to communicate by drawing on a computer. They have to know how to draw with a pencil before they go and transfer their skills. That is really the ultimate goal: to apply lateral skill levels in a more concentrated way to a student’s particular goals.

Tomasek continues on to explain the new curriculum changes.

“We have three tracks here, which are the studio art track, the digital art track and then the 30-credit major. This was maintained and still created for the purpose of art education majors and the other majors that are double majors concentrating in entirely another discipline. These two tracks serve as a much more intensified pursuit because they have capstones and senior seminars. They also become a little more linear and rigid in the timing of when you actually take courses so you are prepared for the next level,” Tomasek said.

The current art major allows students to concentrate in one specific area, but the problem that they were running into was that seniors were in Introduction to Design when that class is supposed to be for freshmen or sophomores. These classes are supposed to be for foundational needs that upper-level coursework consists of, which means they should have taken these classes earlier.

Liz Wuerrfel, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art, explains the new changes as well occurring in the art department.

“There are changes happening in the art department. Because we’re getting rid of the old curriculum and moving to a 45-credit major that has two paths, studio arts and the digital media aspect, we are providing student with more focused path,” Wuerrfel said.

This new path should change things around for students, but because this change is rather new and recent, many students like senior Molly Mast do not know what is coming yet.

“My major is art history-museum studies, so I’ve taken a lot of art history classes and am currently taking museum studies. I was unaware there are changes going on, so I guess good for me because I’m a senior, but I am rather curious to see what is yet to come even though I will not be around to actually be a part of it. Hopefully it will be an even better path than what I’ve experienced so far,” Mast said.

The art department is changing things around, and these plans are supposed to commence by this current semester. As time progresses, students will be able to really be on this new track with the hope that it will guide them in the right direction as to where they want to go for their future careers.

Contact Stephanie O’Sullivan at

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