Art Under Attack: The Creative Arts in U.S. Higher Education

May, 2016 - Richard Lubben, TASA President Elect & CAA Education Committee Chair

With the implementation of the new Texas higher education core curriculum in the fall 2014 semester, most studio and performing art courses are no longer optionsfor many college students wishing to fulfill their undergraduate general education creative arts area. With the exception of two colleges, students in Texas public institutions are now generally required to select from a very limited list of purely lecture courses such as art appreciation, art history or music appreciation. This decision by state policy makers took most Texas college art departments by surprise when requests to include studio art courses in the general education area were denied in 2014, and again for the last two years. As Texas colleges and universities are busy preparing for continued declines in studio enrollment after new requests to include studio art courses in the 2016-­‐17 core curriculum area were denied once again, many art faculty remain concerned about the future of the arts in U.S. colleges and universities.  

After substantial discussion with art administrators and curriculum specialist in Texas over the last three years, it appears that many policy makers believe that the sole purpose of a studio art course (courses such as painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, etc.) is to train students to be practicing artists, and that students taking a studio art course will only learn "craft" techniques and technical skills. The College Art Association Education Committee and the Texas Association of Schools of Art disagree with this likely uninformed interpretation of the purpose of studio art education, and urge policy makers to understand that studio art classes should not be mistakenly perceived as the acquiring of narrow skills, techniques or procedure specific to a particular occupation or profession. In my experience, undergraduate studio art courses are intellectual courses that are not primarily focused to train students to become practicing artists, just as English composition is not intended to train students to become professional writers. Cognitive skills, particularly critical thinking, innovation, and problem solving are developed and reinforced in studio art courses and help students toward their goal of being successful, productive and gainfully employed citizens regardless of their field of study in college, or in their chosen career. 

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Report on TASA Meeting with the THECB on February 6, 2015

Here is the report (Word file and PDF file) of the meeting (Feb. 6, 2015) between Carol Fairlie, President of TASA and Richard Lubben (TASA Board Member) with Dr. Rex Peebles, Assistant Commissioner of THECB. It is an effective start with assertive and meaningful communication with THECB. But there is still work to be done and TASA is on it.

Master Syllabi - five master syllabi for the art studio classes that were approved by the THECB for the creative arts core area at South Texas College this fall:
ARTS2356 Master Syllabus (Microsoft Word file) ARTS2356 Master Syllabus (PDF file)
ARTS2348 Master Syllabus (Microsoft Word file) ARTS2348 Master Syllabus (PDF file)
ARTS2346 Master Syllabus (Microsoft Word file) ARTS2346 Master Syllabus (PDF file)
ARTS1316 Master Syllabus (Microsoft Word file) ARTS1316 Master Syllabus (PDF file)
ARTS1311 Master Syllabus (Microsoft Word file) ARTS1311 Master Syllabus (PDF file)

TASA thanks Carol Fairlie and Richard Lubben for their outstanding work. If you wish to extend your thanks and encouragement directly to Carol and Richard, please send your emails to and !

Creative Arts Core Component Area and Studio Art Courses

November 1, 2014

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Subject: Creative Arts Core Component Area and Studio Art Courses

As a state non-profit organization created in 1970 at the request of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, TASA (Texas Association of Schools of Art) continues to support a growing membership of 60 Texas higher education institutions in matters of art curriculum and transfer credits. This year, TASA has taken the initiative to address the new developments regarding studio art courses and the new general education core. Prior to our recent 44th annual conference, our association sent out and gathered data from Texas art faculty and department chairs using a specialized survey about the core and studio classes. During the conference the headlining topic and discussion was about the removal of studio art classes from the core curriculum and the resulting immediate and long-term effects to students and colleges. TASA urges the THECB to consider the following supporting information regarding studio art courses when reviewing new core inclusion proposals for the creative arts core component area.

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Creative Arts Core Component Area and Studio Art Courses

The below link is to Amarillo College’s 2013 core submissions and can be used as an example for your upcoming core proposals.  (Check with your institutional Curriculum Office for deadlines to the THECB.  South Texas College has a Nov. 15 deadline so it is coming up very soon.)  As you know, Amarillo College was the only institution that had studio courses accepted into the core by the THECB last year.  Please notice the use of key words and the amount of detail that seems to be required for an acceptable application.  To increase your chances for a successful application include an explanation of how each of the four core objectives will be covered and assessed and how each course fulfills the core objectives using a grading rubric.  We are no longer using Exemplarily Educational Objectives (EEO’s) so those along with the ACGM page number can be omitted from the application.  You should use the new CLO’s and course descriptions listed on the ACGM link below.  Lastly, please also find a letter of support from the TASA Board (link below) that you can print and include with your core inclusion requests when submitting through your college’s Curriculum Office in November.  We hope it will help explain how studio courses do belong in the Creative Arts Core Component Area.

Amarillo College Core Submissions:

Downloadable grading rubrics for core objectives and team member critique sheet.  Click on the “Competencies and Rubrics” link to download the general rubric form and modify for your department if needed.

ACGM Lower Division Academic Course Guide Manual:
Select “Studio Art & Art History” in the discipline areas and then click on “run”

Notice that several courses have revised course descriptions and Course Learning Outcomes (CLO’s).  Your Fall 2015 Master Syllabi should be updated with this new information when submitting your core inclusion justifications.  The staff member reviewing your core justifications will likely review your Master Syllabi when making his or her decision regarding approve or denial to the core.

TASA Letter to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Subject: Creative Arts Core Component Area and Studio Art Courses
PDF file
Microsoft Word Document

TASA Core Survey Results (three survey summaries) -

Richard Lubben
Board Member (2011-2017) 
South Texas College
Art Dept., 3201 W. Pecan Blvd.
McAllen, TX 78501

From Me to You: Foundation Question for TASA

The Texas Association of Schools of Art was initially formed in 1968 as a response to a request from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) for the visual arts departments in Texas to meet, discuss, and compromise on an agreement for the transfer of credits between the 2-year, 4-year, public and private institutions. An agreement was reached and adopted on December 1, 1972 . It was reviewed and updated January 29,1982 , and again revised by the TASA membership in April 2000. (See TASA web site for this revised edition).

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