Testimonials for Queen’s Fine Arts (November 2011)

First posted 17 November 2011, and most recently updated 14 December, this file includes 298 testimonial statements and prints out at 52 pages.  Among the “Responses” to this post (scroll down) are many  further testimonials.  See also postings by Carl Heywood and Vincent Romani, and Russell Smith’s column “Why the decline of art schools hurts more than just artists” (Globe & Mail, 30 November 2011).

Since the 9th of November, when Queen’s Administration announced that it would freeze admissions to its Bachelor of Fine Arts program for 2012-13, testimonials to the quality and importance of this program have been pouring in.  Mike Bayne, Queen’s BFA 2001 and recent winner of the prestigious Kingston Prize, Canada’s National Portrait Competition, was interviewed on CBC’s Ontario Morning on 15 November.  He called the closure “extremely unfortunate.”  The program is small, he said, but has “punched above its weight,” having produced “some of the best artists in the past twenty years.”   The announcement of the admissions-freeze by the Globe & Mail on 10 November gathered 292 comments in the following week; many more comments appeared on the Queen’s campus petition supporting Senator Morelli’s motion for the Academic Plan.  We collect  some of these comments and testimonials below.

Comments from the Globe:

Queen’s, Queen’s – sad leadership. Kill the Arts as a cost-saving measure? Pathetic to have you continue as a fully accredited university. Shame on you. (nototo, 10 November)

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This is ridiculous and counter-productive. As others have noted, you can’t just funnel everyone into tight little job tracks like MBA, Engineering, or Social Work and even people who are in those programs may need to also learn things like English Literature, Philosophy, Art, and certainly foreign languages. (Dan Cooper, 10 November)

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This is a university that is in free-fall as we speak. It already has the most expensive tuition in all of Ontario, but it is also falling in the ratings because it overspent on vanity projects and lost sight of the fact that it is an EDUCATION institution.

The mantra for universities should be: hire more profs, invest in classroom spaces and libraries/archives, and all else is secondary. (CKS, 10 November)

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This is part of a growing systemic trend of university programs toward technical job training rather than the institutes of higher learning they once were. I’m not saying there isn’t a need for programs geared towards the practical application of a craft that is in demand by those who are willing to foot the bill (I am an engineer after all), but the arts are the reflection of the soul of our society and how we treat them is a measure of the importance we place on our own values.  (Einstrom, 10 November)

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Seems they [earlier commentators who approve of cutting Arts programs] have never heard of Steve Jobs and his company, Apple (2nd-largest by stock market capitalization in the US).

Jobs was a famous supporter of education in the humanities and stated frequently that the best hires were liberal arts grads – they are trained to think critically, are good  communicators and writers, and open new ideas and ongoing learning. (Chephren, 10 November)

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Gee, it’s kind of funny that Steve Jobs credited taking an art class in calligraphy as the single most important and creative event in his professional life.

Yeah, who needs art anyway?  (Alamogordo, 10 November)

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As a fourth year in this program I’m saddened by the number of people who think that my degree is useless and not going to get me anywhere. We have students in our class bound for art conservation programs, one who is hoping to become an art therapist, and any of us who want to go into education require a bachelors degree of SOME kind. And as far as useful skills, since when the ability to manipulate materials with ones hands become useless? We are all WHMIS certified and have completed a wood shop/power tool crash course.

But whether or not you support the arts is up to you, there are always going to be people who think what we do has no merit, and I was prepared for that when I chose this path. Regardless, as visual art programs go Queen’s has a very unique one. It’s an intensive, immersive approach that allows students of every year their own studio space, and the reason that I flew clear across the continent to Queen’s for my education. I understand that it’s not doing as well financially as, say, Commerce, but it would be a great loss for the arts in Canada if this program continues to go under.

I’m not “occupy”ing, I’m not high, and I don’t see myself having significant employment problems besides the teacher-on-call wait list. I AM a B.F.A. student and I’m offended by the suggestion that my degree somehow makes me less useful to society.  (mountaintops, 10 November)

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This is amusing in a dark way. For decades, the humanity programs in the universities have subsidized the engineering and science programs. This is because engineering and science studies require more costly equipment to teach than they can charge in tuition. In contrast, the humanities tuition fees are greater than the cost of teaching the programs. The profits from humanities have been used to subsidize the more expensive programs such as medicine, engineering, and the sciences.

Now the university begrudges even the resources used to teach the fine arts. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. (Nacken, 10 November)

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Reminds me of the 90’s when modern languages were cut in places such as Carleton. And I seem to recall, cut at Queens not too long ago. Guess it’s the turn of Fine Arts. Perhaps these universities should go whole hog and specialize further as e.g. a business or an engineering institute. (MisterHP, 10 November)

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The university responded negatively to the market signals – there is more demand and therefore they reduce supply.  (zegreus, 10 November)

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Humph. Given that I’m a current Queen’s student, I’m finding this a little frustrating that every time I hear about a negative development at Queen’s I am finding it out through some sort of external news source. Admittedly, I do not go to the Senate assemblies, but I do make an effort to read all the queen’s newspapers, the news center press releases and such. In fact, the last thing I remember the school telling us about the Fine Arts was that they had begun the construction of a new performing arts center.

Even though I am a commerce and environmental studies student at Queen’s, I am still selfishly upset by this cut to the fine arts because I am watching the value of my degree degrade alongside the reputation of my school. For those of you saying that the fine arts are not useful in the real world – I must intervene and say that the type of creativity and logic that it brings to the table are necessary to bump our flawed system onto a course that doesn’t lead us down the path to nothing.

All that being said, I still believe that Queen’s offers a quality education, however, the future of that quality is undoubtedly in jeopardy if they do not stop focusing their funding in all the wrong places at the expense of the smaller faculties.  (Gavin McL, 10 November)

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As a graduate of Queen’s BFA programme [. . . .] I am now a teacher, and I use my fine art background to enhance the lives of children, helping them find pride in themselves [ . . . .] Everything I learned from my BFA and my time at Queen’s has me now living on the water, with two cars, mortgage and debt free, wondering why my taxes are being used to bail out companies run by people with “actual job prospects”. [. . . .] This is a 4 year (or at least when I went there it was) programme, so, actually, they are canceling it [ . . . .] If there are no new students next year, then only years 2, 3, and 4 will run, with only years 3 and 4, and then year 4 running in turn. So, please tell me, how is the programme “not cancelled” when 4 years from now there will be no students in it? [. . . .] Do all people with BFA’s go on to be Picassos and Batemans? No. Some go on to be money-making, job-generating, economy-stimulating furniture, clothing, package, interior, product, video game, etc. designers [. . .] (GradBFA, 10 November)

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I actually graduated from this program a number of years ago. I am now a successful working artist who has never once asked for a government grant or worked in a coffee shop. This program gave me the fundamental tools to earn a very good living. My yearly income exceeds most doctors and lawyers (seriously). I work extremely hard, pay my taxes, donate to charities and have created jobs for others. We are not all a bunch of panhandling, pot-smoking, protesting organic liberals. Those who are, often aren’t really ‘artists’ and are rather simply ‘confused.’ (workingartist, 10 November)

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I am a graduate of the Queen’s Fine Arts programme and I cannot express the depth of gratitude I feel for the transformative four years I spent studying at Queen’s. I am also horrified to see one of Canada’s premier Art schools so casually closed by a university administration that never knew what a jewel it possessed, nor cared. For decades this small intimate fine arts school has punched above its weight, producing high profile artists that have gone on to bring prestige to both Queen’s and Canada; and all on meagre budgets in a less than supportive environment. If you do not follow arts and culture you may not know the names any of the Queen’s BFA graduates that have gone on to do great things, but I encourage you to google these few below and see for yourself the diverse, sometimes beautiful and always provocative work they have contributed to the dialogue of culture.

  • Philip Beesley – artist, architect and teacher
  • Dai Skuse of the collective FASTWURMS
  • Paul Fenniak – Painter (NYC)
  • Karin Davie – Painter (NYC)
  • Adrian Gollner – Artist (Ottawa)
  • Graham Smith, Principal of Altius Architects
  • Rob (Bobby) Baker – lead guitarist for the Tragically Hip

These are just a few that come to mind. I apologize to the many more too numerous to list.

To Queen’s University I can only say this: When studying history you find few references to the business and economic of past civilizations. You may find some references to the medical and engineering feats of past eras. But mostly what is remembered by history is the literature, music, architecture and the art that a culture leaves behind. (BoltonG, 10 November)

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Am I missing something in this decision? There is a demand from students for this program, and Queen’s decides to terminate it. What are they thinking? Programs, like fine arts, make an university. (ggporter, 11 November 11)

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“Queen’s University suspends its fine arts program, citing shortage of resources”

Canary in the mine, I’m afraid. My guess is that the music or drama departments are next.

Gee, who could’ve guessed that taking the Business School’s advice when it came to investments could have such unforeseen consequences?  (TiuLeek, 11 November)

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Another short-sighted decision by a university that seems to have lost its way! So sad that a program with such a rich history could be wiped-out.

Who was consulted about this and what can be done to stop it? (Michael_Ryan, 14 November)

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From the “Friends of Queen’s Petition Concerning the Academic Plan”:

Many of my students attend your Fine Arts program. I cannot believe you are considering getting rid of it.  (Tamara Doleman, 16 November)

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Find a creative solution to maintain this program, it is so important in today’s climate.  (Elisabeth Arbuckle, 16 November)

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NO PLEASE I WANT TO APPLY NEXT YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Keith Hoddinott, 16 November)

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I am the parent of a Queen’s Arts Sci student with a particular interest in the arts. I am an art teacher at Trinity College School [. . . .] The value of the arts in a university is incalculable; the Queen’s visual arts program is highly regarded among visual art professionals and secondary school teachers. (Margaret Poynton, 17 November)

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As an art teacher in a leading Canadian independent school (Trinity College School, Port Hope) I’m shocked at the Queen’s decision to terminate the BFA and MFA programs. We have sent many of our best students to Queen’s over the years (including the recent Kingston Prize winner) and in Canada losing such a distinctive program is sad and shortsighted. Creativity and imagination (Humanitas) does not come out of business schools. Canadian society (not to mention Queen’s) will be much the poorer by losing such a valuable and reputable asset – to put it in business terms.  (Andrew Gregg, 17 November)

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As a parent of a Fine Arts student presently at Queen’s who has really blossomed in this unique program, I am saddened that other young people may not have this opportunity. (Karen Kent, 18 November)

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Please keep this amazing program! My daughter is in her second year of the BFA Honours program, and is so enjoying it. We cannot have a world full of just engineers, doctors, economists etc, we need the creative minds of our artists to fill in the gaps. Queen’s is making a very big mistake, to think that Art does not belong within its programs! Please reconsider! (Erica Kerouac, 20 November)

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I object to any plan than would cut funding to the Queen’s Visual Art department. I teach high school art courses and have done so for 22 years. I hold a Bachelor of Fine Art and a Masters of Fine Art in visual art and know first hand what valuable training such programs offer, both in terms of technical training and fostering of creative problem solving skills. This is a period in world history when we need to be training many more people to think creatively. Cutting a valuable program is more expensive in the long run; it will cost much more to build up the art department again in the future, if you lose it now.  (Harry Stooshinoff, 20 November)

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From the “Petition to Queen’s Senate Concerning the Academic Plan”:

As a Music Major, I am in one of the smaller programs that everyone seems to regard as “less important” comparative to sciences or even other arts. The arts are so important to today’s culture … don’t just shut us down without explaining why! If it’s the fine arts students now … will music majors find ourselves without a degree program next year?? (Elisabeth Manouchehri, 13 November)

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The BFA is an incredibly unique programme that cannot be overlooked. We must fight to keep the programme the way it is; first year entry, intense module systems, small classes. (Delaney Morris, 14 November)

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Shutting down any program at Queen’s that still has any students within it is a silly idea. You worry about the declining reputation of Queen’s University and this is the cause of it. You’re focusing too much on generalizing Queen’s and that is why we’re now on par with schools like McMaster or Guelph. We’re better than this. If we limited ourselves to one construction project at a time we wouldn’t have been in this money hole. That and if we stopped funding Woolf’s trips to “fundraise” in other countries that make surprisingly good vacation destinations. (Byron Letourneau-DUynstee, 14 November)

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As a Queen’s BFA student myself I know such a unique program is worth saving!  (Laura McColm, 15 November)

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I LOVE BFA (Zara Jiwa, 15 November)

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Art Matters at Queen’s! (Hilary Longtin, 15 November; also Anna Speyer, 15 November; Laura McEwan, 15 November; Sean, 16 November; Daniela Tanaka, 17 November)

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Queen’s needs this program. (Cameron Veenstra, 15 November)

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Art is key to our understanding of our selves, our potential and the possibilities of expression. Cultivating the forms that are expressed by the imagination are key to our salvation – all forms of expression require space, time and embodiment. Do not lose this valuable program. There may be few but its worth is much more than the functional programming of most other subjects. Good Luck. (Jane Houde, 15 November)

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The arts are as important as any other program offered at Queens! SAVE ART! (Sarah Sukhu, 15 November)

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Without Art There is No Life!  (Letitia Calver, 15 November)

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Harry Potter likes the Fine Arts program at Queen’s.  (“Harry Potter” on 15 November)

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KEEP FINE ARTS!!! They deserve to be here as much as any other program. If you have money to rebuild the already amazing commerce building then you can afford to keep the fine arts.  (Emma Digney, 15 November)

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Don’t you dare cut art at Queen’s. We can’t afford to lose any more beauty in the world. Down with the art cut! (Pippa D-F, 15 November)

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Don’t do it. (Tommy Wei, 15 November)

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We need this program. It is small, so please keep it. (Stephen Lambert, 15 November)

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I strongly believe in the existence of the fine arts program, students should be able to do anything they love and have a passion for! (Aamer Mahmud, 15 November)

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I’m a first year BFA student, and this program was unique for my needs! Please don’t take away that chance for potential future students! (Kirsten Bakajsza, 15 November)

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As a parent of a Queen’s student, and as a Queen’s graduate myself, I am stunned that a school with such a stellar reputation and history is even considering removal of a program that brings such diversity and culture to the Queen’s community. (Mary McAlpine Hornell, 15 November)

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As an alumna of Queen’s French and liaison librarian for Art and Music at Queen’s University Library, I am concerned about the erosion of any more smaller programs in the arts and humanities at my alma mater. (Lucinda Walls, 15 November)

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We students should have a say where our money is going, because what is the point of paying for the most expensive undergrad degree in Canada if we cannot? We are dropping in ranks and the administration is a mess. Shutting down programs because of lack of resources is inexcusable due to poor allocation of the budget and misguided priorities. This needs to change.  (Paola Poblete, 15 November)

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My sister is currently enrolled in the program and dreamed of going to Queens for arts for 2 years. This program is possibly the best in Canada, is in high demand, and a great opportunity for many students. Instead of cancelling the program, consider additional fees for the students, or a re-allocation of costs between other programs for the use of space. (Alisenne Boxall, 15 November)

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The arts are more important than you’d think. They have saved me many times. (Lauren Moritz, 16 November)

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Please reconsider your decision to suspend the Queen’s Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours Program! There are so many future students who would benefit from this wonderful program. The world needs more artists and creative minds, and your current program is the perfect place for these students to find their place in the world! Not everyone can be an engineer, a doctor, or a lawyer – let’s give these kids a chance!  (Erica Kerouac, 16 November)

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Keep some culture at Queen’s.  (Maria Macchia, 16 November)

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The BFA is a unique program in Ontario & Canada and was the reason my daughter entered the Queen’s BFA (Honours) program – it needs to be saved in close to current form – o.w. Queen’s will be losing its draw for prospective fine art students. As an Applied Science ’80 and MBA ’87 alumni, we need to save such dynamic programs. btw what is the business & strategic plan/purpose for doing this?  (David McColm, 16 November)

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Can’t believe Queens has done this. WOW. This shows how much you care about actual talent and artists in this school.  (Ryan Woods, 16 November 2011)

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It’s a disgrace to let this program go.  (Lauren Hodson, 16 November)

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Fine arts. Always. (Eric Ferguson, 16 November)

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The arts are a vital part of our everyday life for many reasons including a method of therapy and expression, and in this case an art that is close to several students’ hearts whether it be as a deep personal need or career choice or any other. As a student at Queen’s and a huge supporter of all arts programs and pursuits, I think this decision would negatively influence a significant population and also discourage or prevent students from attending, what I believe is, a wonderful university, due to the lack of their ideal program. I understand the circumstances in which the University is put in but I too am surprised that this matter has been taken this far and may truly negatively impact the Queen’s University BFA program and several other student, staff, potential students, and unfortunately other universities in that they may follow. I hope this matter is reconsidered. (Lia Baird, 16 November)

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Because what the world needs is more people who think art is paintings of horses.  (Jaimie MacIsaac, 16 November)

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Shocking.  (David B. Hobbs (’10, English) 16 November)

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I think that this is one of the saddest comments on our society to date. Cancelling this program says that culture in society is not important. Cancelling this program says that statistics and numbers are more influential upon human beings than the ability artistic expression enables for the human spirit. What are they going to cut next, English? If this happens I don’t think I would ever be proud to call myself a Queen’s student. (Nicole Silver, 16 November)

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Fine arts at Queen’s is just as important as any other faculty. They are the main reason our campus is as beautiful as it is, and are part of Queen’s history as well. Suspending admission would be a terrible mistake. (Sarah McKenzie, 16 November)

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Don’t forget the arts give birth to science. Not the other way around. (Asad Chishti, 16 November)

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I think it would be a devastating blow to Queen’s University, and its image, if it were to lose its Fine Arts Program. (Diana Zeng, November 16)

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Keep art at Queen’s.  (Marky C, 17 November)

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Keep the fine arts program! (NIck Glover, 17 November)

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Arts are essential; don’t mess with creativity! (Tracy Runas, 17 November)

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The university’s administration should be embarrassed. (Riley Grant, 17 November)

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#badcallqueens.  (Megan Donn, 17 November)

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This university is an institution of higher learning. Fine Art is the epitome of higher learning. (Emma Farant, 17 November)

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Keep the Fine Arts program ALIVE! (Mrs Rosemary Smallridge, 17 November)

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I believe that Queen’s should maintain its faculty of fine arts in order to give those who would like an excellent top tier education to attend a non-specialised university so that they may diversify as desired.  (Chúk Odenigbo, 17 November)

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The arts are integral to many of our experiences here at Queen’s. It is wrong to have to see them go. (Anonymous, 18 November)

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We need a step by step process, and it is too bad it has had to come to this. If sense had prevailed, we wouldn’t be in this mess!  (Gillian Bankas, 18 November)

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Keep Art alive! (Hayley Robb, 18 November)

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Fine Arts is an essential programme to any university!!  (Patricia Poirier, BA, M.Ed., 18 November)

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How could someone want to do this to one of the most amazing art programs in Ontario? This is not only a horrible thing to do to a program, but a terrible thing to do to all of its students and future applicants.  (Cynthia, 19 November)

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SAVE BFA!!  (Aaron Wynn, 19 November)

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Absurd that anyone with the brains to run an academic institution would want to end Fine Arts — one would think you of all people would know better. The purpose of Universities is not just to turn out the next generation of the managerial class. (Robert Ruttan, M.A. Philosophy 1992, 20 November)

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I have always been so proud to be a Queen’s grad, and now my daughter is equally proud to be a student at Queen’s. The decline of the university’s academic reputation is painful to watch.  (Catherine Shilletto Hinton, 20 November)

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The Art program at Queen’s is far too amazing to ever be shut down! Just because they are small does not mean they shouldn’t get priority.  (Kylee Hinde, 21 November)

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From the Petition to Senate Concerning Admission Freezes and Closures:

In suspending admission to the BFA the FAS is doing something of considerable academic consequence, in and of itself. It is also obvious that this action will create the conditions leading to closure of the program. This is a matter that should be thoroughly examined and debated in Senate. It is not a matter for simple administrative decision.  (Elizabeth Hanson, 17 November)

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Who made the decision to freeze admission to the BFA programme? What was the process? Queen’s needs the arts–they are transformative.  (Elizabeth Greene, 17 November)

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Of the academic importance of this distinguished programme in Fine Arts I have no doubt. My own interdisciplinary course in modernist literature has been been greatly enriched in the past by the vitality of the fine arts community on this campus. Future versions of it will be impoverished by this move, as will many similar interdisciplinary efforts across the university. I regret not having been given the opportunity to submit a case for the academic value of this programme before this decision was made and I implore the Faculty of Arts and Science to reconsider its decision. (Patricia Rae, 17 November)

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Art is an essential part of education; it should be considered a priority for a university, not expendable at the administrations’ personal whims. If you think that characterization is unfair, then what about including some consultation in the process? As long as there is no process of consultation in place for such major decisions such as cuts to a programme, through a “representative” body like the Senate, such cuts WILL appear as mere personal whim.  (Margaret Pappano, 17 November)

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This is inexcusable. (Alyssa Pittet, 17 November)

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Please reconsider your decision to cut funding to this program. It is a vital part of Queen’s University.  (Bronwyn Loucks, 17 November)

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We cannot lose such a valuable and well-respected program to the vagaries of decisions made by bean-counters.  (John Burge, 18 November)

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My BFA, BA in Art History and my MFA from UCL gave me the critical thinking skills for a successful career in the Army including a tour of Afghanistan and two tours in Africa…so far. I would not trade my education for anything including an “executive MBA.”  (Major Zane Piekenbrock, CD, 18 November)

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Stunningly short sighted decision. Should bring shame to those who have put this forth. It will most certainly put Queens University well down the academic ladder. The Senate should be equally shocked. (Barbara Crawford, 18 November)

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“The arts are a powerful vehicle for communication, a way to express visions that are beyond the capacity of words and a medium for cultural enlightenment. One could go even further and argue that knowledge of the arts is an indispensable foundation for enlightened citizenship in our increasingly complicated world.” (Chris Waterman) By freezing the BFA admissions Queen’s University is sending the wrong signals.  (Pia Banzhaf, 18 November)

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Prevent the fate of the BFA program becoming that of the BMUS program. (Cassie Miller, 18 November)

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We’re a university, not a jobs training centre. We’re not here to make a profit. We’re here to do all those things that don’t happen in the for-profit world because they aren’t profitable. I’d expect a university administration to understand this but apparently, bankers don’t know how to run a school.  (Matthew Shultz, 18 November)

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Please consider the implications this move has on the morale of all faculty at Queen’s. We’re not standing by, idly witnessing the demise of a program unrelated to our work. In fact, it affects us all now.  (Cynthia Levine-Rasky, 18 November)

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Queen’s is a university not a trade school. This is not the Queen’s institute of Technology.  All of the faculty of A&S should be worried.  (Gordon Craig, 18 November)

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I am dismayed about this as it affects perception – Queens Univ. is a reputable and well recognized institution. This nonsense affects your reputation for proper management and planning.  (Jane Houde, 18 November)

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The academic integrity of Queen’s should not be at sake in balancing the books! Those in programs to be suspended should be given due notice so that they may be involved in the process and make a case for themselves. Soon Queen’s reputation will mean nothing as the academics will not be there to back up the claims! (Leanne Wheeler, 18 November)

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I was hoping to pursue my education in fine art, and planning on appying to Queen’s University Fine Art Program. I would love to see it stay open! (Victoria Loucks, 18 November)

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Queen’s Visual Art Department is larger than the sum of its parts and produces many fine artists despite its small size – it is truly one of the last programs of its kind and should be embraced not axed.  (Eric Mathew, Visual Artist, Stirling, ON, 18 November)

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“Although we give lip service to the notion of freedom, we know that government is no longer the servant of the people but, at last, has become the people’s master. We have stood by like timid sheep while the wolf killed — first the weak, then the strays, then those on the outer edges of the flock, until at last the entire flock belonged to the wolf.” — Gerry Spence (Adele Mercier, 18 November)

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The arts are vital to the cultural community. (Keith Bird, 18 November)

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Don’t kill our programme :(. Canada would literally be losing its only programme of this kind. (Kathleen Wilson on Nov 18, 2011

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As attested by Janina Fialkovska, Queen’s honorary doctorate this week, the role of Arts and Liberal Arts education at Queen’s cannot be reduced to financial cost alone, and needs to be evaluated in a proper and inclusive process. (Dorit Naaman on Nov 18, 2011

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The closure of this program is an insult to our culture. Jessica Barr on Nov 18, 2011

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What a tragedy if Queen’s loses this gem. Cut-back on the bloated Administration not the programs that make Queen’s an excellent institution.  (Wayne Snedden on Nov 18, 2011

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i never imagined a day would come when i would be ashamed of the university, my university. but, alas, here we are. (christopher scott bfa 1992, 18 November)

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There seems to be a lack of due process – since education is a social and private investment that has a return over several decades, the university should not prioritize a balanced annual budget higher than the educational mission when a alternative (medium term deficit spending) exists. (Asad Aziz, 18 November)

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Queen’s BFA Program has made my life possible. (Lisa Figge, 18 November)

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No closures without process.  (Gillian Bankas, 18 November)

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By taking away the studio art program you are basically putting the faculties into a sort of hierarchy placing visual arts as least important. 
(Kristine Emerson, 18 November)

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All of us need the presence of the arts. We also need clear and fair processes for decision-making. This decision — taken without open consultation and without apparently the involvement of the Senate — goes against the common interest we all have in achieving what is possible as an intellectual community at Queen’s — a democratic and trusting environment enriched by the arts. (Eleanor MacDonald, 18 November)

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As an artist I am concerned about the decision regarding the Fine Arts Program at Queen’s. I question both the decision and the process that led to that decision. Queen’s reputation is taking a big hit. (Mark Wihak, 18 November)

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 I’m watching what I have worked for four years on completely dissolve in front of me, and it feels as though there is nothing that I can do about it.  (Alexis Perlman, 18 November)

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let’s go forward and not backward.  (Sima Khorrami, 18 November)

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Canada needs more not less of the Arts.  (Tom Adam, 18 November)

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I feel this decision should have gone through the Senate in the most transparent way possible. Suspending admissions for a year, without a thorough canvas of the options, pre-judges much and could lead to long-term harm to a fine program. It’s a wonderful program we should be supporting, not starving.  (Daphne Dumont, 18 November)

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A total disgrace. Why are Universities treating faculty and students in such an egregious manner? Do the students not have a right to know well in advance what critical decisions are being made that will no doubt change their future? Do they just not care?  (Lynn A. Channing, 18 November)

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I graduated from a program like this a few years ago. I think it should be available to all students every year. Not everyone is meant to be a doctor or a scientist. Please keep the program for first year students and for every year after. (Marta McCarey, 18 November)

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The Queen’s BFA program has produced some of the top-rated artists in Canada. To freeze this program is a tragedy to the arts and culture sector. (Franklin Beecham, 18 November)

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I am a member of the alumni – this is an ill-considered move and reflects terribly on one of Canada’s oldest Visual Arts programs. It impacts us all negatively. I will be withdrawing my support.  (Kathleen Irwin, 18 November)

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Programmes such as fine arts are crucial for critical thinking and intellectual rigour in University. (Anonymous, 18 November)

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A program should not be terminated without consultation. (Paulette Dull, 18 November)

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Do I think we should “suspend” the BFA ? No, but that is neither here nor there. There is a process, an administrative process, which is not being followed. While not wanting to argue for greater bureaucratic hurdles, I do believe we develop these mechanisms for a purpose. A purpose that allows for input, insight, creativity and careful consideration. A purpose, which in turn, helps to foster a forum of collegiality, cooperation, and inclusion. By circumventing the process, I believe that the policy on Academic Integrity to which Queen’s University adheres is being compromised. The policy states that “academic integrity is a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. From these values flow principles of behavior that enable academic communities to translate ideals into action.” I would like the Administration to follow the appropriate process with regard to academic programs at Queen’s in order to uphold these values to which we subscribe.  (Heather Home, 18 November)

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The suspension of this program will leave a void in the Queen’s University community and in the larger creative community. This program is a unique gem among fine art programs and should be preserved as a testament to the successful blending of academia and studio instruction. The faculty and staff that make up this program are invaluable — to lose them would be a loss to the academic community and a detriment to the reputation of Queen’s University. (Orli Kessel, 18 November)

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This is an alarming action which has concerned every artist who has gone to a university to receive a BFA or MFA. It is shocking and saddening to see a high merit university acting in a manner which is hostile to their colleagues and disrespectful of proper conduct and procedures. Historically, Fine Art is the first area of attack in times of financial stress and uncertainty…The actions at Queen’s suggest an atmosphere of fear and knee jerk reactions rather than collegial, informed, and cooperative problem solving.  (Marsha Kennedy, 18 November)

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The Fine Arts courses I took as an undergraduate student in Biology have served me well. I can not imagine becoming half as successful in my science career without the experience learnt in non-science courses. Please reconsider this decision.  (Nuno M. Fragoso, ArtSci ’95, MSc ’98, 18 November)

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As a Queen’s University alumni from this program, and a current Graduate Student Chair member on OCAD University’s Senate, I find the recent actions undertaken by Queen’s to be unjust. Legislation regarding these academic matters should have formally passed through Senate, instead of allowing the creation of a pseudo-policy suspending admission. As a member of Senate, please ensure your actions—and those committed ‘above’ you by others—conform to your responsibilities by restricting this policy. In doing so, you will continue the cultural importance of Fine Arts within the Queen’s University education system and larger academic community. This move would allow Queen’s University to stand out nationally and regain respect as a school that acknowledges the rigor of skill, intellect, and viability fine artists maintain. If income is the only issue the University has with this program, they should be working on ways to gain research-funding initiatives. This solution seems obvious when compared to current actions: simply dismissing ‘problems’ the University has not taken the time to solve. I appreciate your time and efforts to resolve the issues at hand. (Kimberly Anne Armstrong, BFAH 2010, 18 November)

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This closure is of concern to anyone teaching in the fine arts at the university level. I am an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Regina, and I urge you to reconsider this drastic step.  (Pauline Minevich, 18 November)

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Very unfair for the Faculty to decide without consultation or debate regarding the matter. I cannot imagine what I would do if the University of Regina did this. This is extremely disturbing to hear about. (Nathan Petryshyn, University of Regina BFA, Regina, Saskatchewan, 18 November)

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Another example of mean spirited and wrong-headed decision-making. Is Queen’s taking a page out of the prime minister’s handbook? Shame…  (M.A. Wilson, 19 November)

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I am a former student from the BFAH Class of 2011. I do not agree with the University suspending admissions to the Fine Arts program, and believe it will cause further harm to the program’s existence in the future. (Laura Stewart, 19 November)

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Creativity is what changes the world. (Donna Gardon, 19 November)

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Please reconsider.  (Sarah Garton Stanley, 19 November)

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Queen’s needs to keep its Fine Arts Program alive and well.  (Dan Beadle ~ Sci ’03, 19 November)

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because arts matter most!  (Fanny, 19 November)

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The Queen’s Fine Arts Program was one that I was actually considering and now I feel like I was thrown under the bus! (Nicky Clarizio, 19 November)

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As if the arts weren’t already under fire in this country! Queen’s has the potential to offer the best fine arts program in the country – a top notch regional art museum with significant Canadian and international collections, the ONLY art conservation program, art history and fine arts. A unique combination that this country needs. Admitting too many students last year combined with a faculty retirement cited as a reason for suspending admissions – pitiful.  (Kelly McKinley, 19 November)

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Please save the quality and valuable diversity of our education. (Ketsia Green, 19 November)

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The lack of transparent and appropriate process and communications with interested and affected parties is shocking and demoralizing for Queen’s faculty, staff, alumni, and current and prospective students and their families. It also threatens Queen’s reputation. As for the substance of the decision, I can only hope that the suspension of admissions to the BFA program is temporary. What does the administration have in mind for Fine Arts at Queen’s? And which parts of the admin, I would like to know, has these changes in mind? Are there changes afoot that could make sense of even a temporary freeze on admissions? If so they should be properly communicated so that we can all have a part in “managing” these changes in the least disruptive way and indeed in a way that will enable fine arts to flourish at Queen’s. Fine arts, as well as music and drama and film, are essential to an engaged intellectual life and to what it means to develop and sustain the skills necessary for participating in a free society. Fine arts, music, drama, and film are needed by all of us at Queen’s, including those of us who do not work in those departments. It matters that we share community, influence and are influenced by the people who do work there. The loss of these programs at Queen’s will bode ill for Queen’s and beyond.  (Jackie Davies, 19 November)

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i wish i’d taken a BFA.  (Anonymous, 19 November)

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Suspending the BFA makes Queen’s look terrible, because it IS a terrible thing to do.  (Jobb Arnold, 19 November)

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Arts programs require continuity in enrollment to thrive, especially programs that involve performance, since performing groups inevitably involve students in various years of their program.  (William J. Egnatoff, 20 November)

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Queen’s should be more than a business.  (Don Stuart, 20 November)

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On May 25, 2011, Queen’s University Senate approved the Internal Academic Review (IAR) for the Department of Art (http://www.queensu.ca/secretariat/senate/agendasminutes/052511/IARCArt.pdf). This IAR stated that the “Department of Art can be characterised by high quality academic programs, productive and respected scholars and artists, and strong students enrolled in all of its three units (Art Conservation, Art History and Fine Art).”  The IAR did express “concern about the impact of the pending retirements on the current Master of Art Conservation program.  In order to keep this sole-Canadian program viable in its present form, these faculty members must be replaced with well-established academics who have the necessary expertise in specialized disciplines.” The IAR made no mention whatsoever of concern about financial or ‘resource’ limitations that might in any way impact the BFA program. How only six months later the University Administration can straight-facedly claim that the BFA program must be suspended “based on an assessment of the faculty resources available to support the program” (http://www.queensu.ca/news/articles/bfa-enrolment-suspended-2012-13) is very difficult to understand; especially when it was the Art Conservation program, not the BFA program, that was identified as having ‘resource’ limitations.  Something doesn’t seem to add up. Was the BFA program sacrificed to save the Art Conservation program?  How were any of these decisions reached?  Why the secrecy?  (Jordan Morelli, 20 November)

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The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program at Queen’s is both respected and invaluable–losing it would be shameful. I sincerely hope that Queen’s will revaluate its position concerning the recent announcement that the Administration is freezing admissions. (Arnold Koroshegyi, BFA ’91, 20 November)

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Sadly, Queen’s is making another short-sighted decision that is proof of its having lost sight of its original mission. It would be a grave mistake to cut a program that has produced many successful artists.  (L.J. Fitzgerald (Arts 90, M.A. 93), 20 November)

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Our daughter thrived at Queen’s and is certainly on to a confident life as an artist due to her time spent at Queen’s BFA program.  (Robyn Craig, 20 November)

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I am proud of my liberal arts education from Queen’s!  No university can be considered world class without a strong liberal arts program.  (Catherine Shilletto Hinton, 20 November)

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The Arts are what make us unique, creative thinkers. Individuals. Problem solvers. They are what make us human. I owe a debt of gratitude to the Fine Arts program I experienced in London – it made me realize that it’s okay to not always have the answers – the beauty is in the question. To me, that is what Art is all about. I was extremely saddened to learn of the Fine Arts program at Queens being shut down. Truly a shame.  (Ryan Johnson, 21 November)

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I graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from Queen’s University in April 2009 after four of the most fulfilling years of my life. I am crushed to hear that the program is in danger of closure. I have never been so challenged creatively and so thoroughly equipped with solid work ethic, problem solving skills, creative thinking and innovation as I was during my time in the Fine Arts program. The world needs people who are trained to think differently, to approach problems from new angles. This is what I learned through this program. Please let it continue so that others may be as richly benefited as I was!  (Melody Telford, 21 November)

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The fact that Queen’s is quickly turning its back on the Arts is very disappointing. I am shocked that the value of a liberal arts education is so blatantly being dismissed. I am a very unhappy alumni that will not be showing any future monetary support for my alma mater if this silliness continues.  (Natalie Whidden, 21 November)

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As a former graduate of the Fine Arts program at Queen’s University I am hoping that the freeze on admissions is revoked.  (Chrissy Poitras, 21 November)

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Academic programs and admissions are explicitly the responsibility of Senate.  (James Cordy, 21 November)

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There is more than just revenue to consider.  (Scott Lougheed, 21 November)

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No one in the QU community, especially those directly affected, should learn about a program “suspension” in the Globe & Mail. The university administration has a responsibility to be honest with employees and students. Proper democratic procedures, transparent and known, should be used when making decisions about the future of academic programs and units. Proper procedures are even more important when the university faces financial constraints.  (Roberta Lamb, 21 November)

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As a faculty member in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, I am ashamed and embarrassed by this decision. It is an extremely worrisome sign that Queen’s no longer knows the purpose of a university education.  (Elaine Power, 21 November)

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Elimination of the BAH on short-term financial grounds would nullify all the effort put into academic planning to date.  (Anonymous, 21 November)

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If the only relevant criteria were ‘resources’, universities might as well be turned into ‘for profit’ sales enterprises, with paying customers. (Henry Laycock, 21 November)

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I cannot possibly support the suspended admissions of this program…the programs of my mentors, friends and fellow peers. If this would have been another program, I don’t think this discussion would even ever come to fruition. We need people connected to the arts to continue to inspire to make change in our world and fill us with compassion for our fellow human being.  (Chantal Tshimanga, 21 November)

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Since when has lack of funding ever stopped the Queen’s Fine Arts Program? This turn of events comes as a shock to me, but it is a sign of the times I suppose.  (Katie Triggs, 21 November)

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This program is my life.  (Olivia Mersereau, 21 November)

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BFA ’15, disgusted at how this situation has been implemented and handled since.  (Iris Fryer, 21 November)

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Why would you suspend such a creative program?!  (Kelly Huang, 21 November)

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The Fine Arts program adds to the culture and tradition of the school and cancelling it not only goes to discourage students from wanting to go to Queen’s but also sends a horrible message that Queen’s is getting weaker, not growing.  For all the students, PLEASE do not cancel the Fine Arts program. (Carly Wedge, 21 November)

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Stop destroying Queen’s reputation.  (Ann Watkins, 21 November)

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The same concerns apply to my own specialty of Art Conservation at Queen’s. (Elisabeth Czerwinski, 21 November)

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A couple facts on “Creative Industries” contributions to Ontario’s economy:

  • contributes $12.2 billion annually to Ontario’s GDP
  • contributes more to Ontario’s GDP than the Energy Industry, Agriculture & Forestry, as well as Mining
  • nationally, it is forecasted to grow… not slow (unlike the total GDP in 2008)
  • approximately 1.1 million Canadians jobs rely – directly or indirectly – on the industry
  • = 7.1% of Canada’s total workforce….
  • The Arts are not “useless” programs as some comments in the article would have you believe.  (Corey Snelgrove, 21 November)

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BFA ’09, deeply saddened. (Simone Collin, 21 November)

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I’m sad to see the potential closure of admissions to the BFA program. As a recent graduate of the ’09 class I feel that the program was a major keystone in my development as an artist, arts admin staff, teacher, print technician, and print-shop owner. I feel that the education Queen’s has provided me with is the best that I could have ever asked for.  (Kyle Topping, 21 November)

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Creativity is an ESSENTIAL ingredient of ANY education.  (Alana Kapell, 22 November)

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Closure on financial grounds?  In this case for the BFA Program to continue, no need to close first-year admissions AT ALL: it would cost Queens a grand total of an adjunct for a 1.5 course load each year.  (Jan Winton, 22 November)

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What would the world be without artists to inspire and engage our minds and souls?   Queen’s BFA programme is essential . . . keep it alive!  (Barry Kinsey, 22 November)

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Last week, I sat down and read through each of the testimonials that had been written on a webpage in support of the BFA program. The testimonies were touching, beautiful, inspiring, and profound. I think there’s little I can say that hasn’t already been said in one way or another, except that I cannot fathom those who are more stirred by the dollar than by something much greater. Shutting down the program will only make this school more one-dimensional. Haven’t we learned that disconnecting from that which moves us only leaves us hurting in the end? I don’t doubt the university may be feeling financial constraints, but surely there is a better, more creative approach than killing off the Arts. I ask that the Senate reconsider its decision.  (Anonymous, 23 November)

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How can a university foster the study of art history or cultural studies without having practicing artists on campus? As someone considering graduate studies in these fields, this concerns me, and makes me wonder how this decision will impact students, and admissions, at both the undergraduate and graduate level . . .  (Anonymous, 23 November)

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Let’s have an open process at Queen’s.  (Ron J. Roy, 23 November)

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It is not okay to take the Fine Arts away, even for a year.   (Carmen Huang, 23 November)

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Another disgusting example of trying to turn Queen’s into a corporate university.  (Dr. M.L. Kaitting, 24 November)

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The arts are so important! It would be a terrible strike against Queens to drop such a wonderful program. Don’t limit opportunties for arts students. We’re important too!  (Anonymous, 25 November)

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The Queen’s BFA program is an excellent program, and it is important to keep the Arts and Humanities in all education institutions, because we are not all about the dollar.  (Valerie Allan, 25 November)

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I am Executive Director of the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington. I strongly support the above statement [see petition]. Over the past decades, the visual arts program at Queen’s has nurtured and motivated countless prominent artists, art adminstrators, curators, and teachers. Many have impacted my personal and professional life profoundly. Michael Burtch, longtime Direct of the Algoma Gallery, is a Queen’s graduate and highly valued mentor and friend. One of my currrent board members, Jeremy Desjardine, is head of the art department at Bowmanville High School and a Queen’s Graduate. Dayna Reimland, a gifted student and summer employee of mine, is currently enrolled in first year of the visual arts program. During my many years as Curator at the Weir Collection in Queenston, Keith Bantock served as my Conservator; he is a graduate of the Art Conservation Program at Queens. It is my sincere hope that a program that has demonstrated a level of excellence that inspires and launches individuals such as these continues, and flourishes.  (James Campbell, 26 November)

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Much as biodiversity is essential to a healthy, functioning ecosystem, academic diversity is essential to a healthy, functioning society (Sarah Kinsey [BSc (biology) 2000 & BFA (printmaking) 2000],  30 November)

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Stop decorating the campus with useless renovations, building more sports facilities to encourage competition and violence, and support the Arts. (James Hanley, 1 December)

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Unilateral decisions that a have far-reaching impact on a community, or in this case, on a nation’s fine artists, are a one-way street to disaster. Poets, artists, writers, ‘communicators’ of all stripes, are the vessels of a nation’s conscience and any infringement on the few remaining avenues for these rare individuals to be supported in developing their gifts impoverishes all of us.  (Paul Chaput, 4 December)

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As a BFA 2009 graduate, I believe the freezing of admission and the likely eventual closure of the program would be a monumental loss to the Queen’s academic community and the arts community at large.  (Orli Kessel, 4 December)

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Queen’s University has a very solid reputation across Canada, and the Art Program is known and respected by other visual arts programs across the country. It is therefore shocking to hear of these proceedings and I hope that proper communication and due process can correct this.  (Marsha Kennedy, 5 December)

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Cut the administration, not education. (Anonymous, 5 December)

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Shocked & saddened to see BFA suspended – please reconsider this. (Hilda Oomen, 6 December)

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This programme is dear to my heart.  It is unique and well established, a treasure to preserve and value. Support art; it is such an integral aspect to a happy world.  (Julia White, 7 December)

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From the Petition to Lift Queen’s BFA Suspension:

As a parent of a student currently studying in the BFA program I feel strongly that this excellent program must be continued.  (Bonnie Jackson, 1 December)

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It’s difficult to understand how a non-consultative approach could be taken to a decision with such significant impact on so many students. At a minimum, this approach undermines the image of the Queen’s community. It would be difficult to image similar action at Western, U of T, or other leading institutions across Canada.  I support a re-visiting of this decision by all concerned.  (Jim Muckle, 1 December)

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The BFA program has become integral to many of our experiences here at Queen’s. As an Art History student I cannot imagine what my program and Queen’s experience would look like without the BFAs nearby. They make the art world more tangible to many of us, and it would be devastating to see them go! (Anonymous, 1 December)

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I support the arts, and I am appalled this institution’s ignorance!  (Michelle, 1 December)

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Decision too sudden; have options, including discussion with students and recent graduates not been taken? Time to rethink. Good luck. (Rev. William Ball, 1 December)

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I have several students that have graduated from the high school art program I teach in at the Queen’s visual art program and they are passionate about this cause. They love art and they love Queen’s – we all hope that the program is rejuvenated and continues on!!! (Natalie Johnston, 1 December)

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I respectfully request reconsideration of the program suspension. The Department of Art and BFA program are important parts of Queen’s and the Kingston community. (Donna Gillespie, 1 December)

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BFA students contribute a lot to the cultural landscape of the university. (Lenny Epstein, 1 December)

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I can’t believe a University of Queen’s calibre and standing would conceive of suspending its Fine Art Program! (Mieke Van Geest, 1 December)

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More and more I find that the decisions made about programs and curriculum at Queen’s University are being driven by financial, instead of academic value. I fully support BFA students, and I do not believe that Queen’s wants to be the kind of school that cuts entire programs and disappoints its students. (Evelyn Popiel, 1 December)

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I am a graduate of the BFA program at York University. I could hardly earn a living in practicing fine art alone. Although few graduates from any general university program find employment in their chosen disciplines, be it sociology, mathematics, languages, science, music, fine art or any other, the importance of a university education is invaluable. It saddens me to think that Principal Woolf, Dean MacLean, and the Board of Trustees of Queen’s University are willing to sacrifice fine art to save money. Perhaps, in these economic times, a judicious examination of all disciplines for cost-cutting measures is fairer than sacrificing one discipline. (Mary Lou Ashton, 1 December)

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The suspension of the Fine Art program at Queen’s is a major blight on the university. As a graduate of Queen’s (’95), it’s an embarrassment! (Craig Leonard, 1 December)

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First Kingston lost its diploma in fine arts at St Lawrence College. Now the BFA program at Queen’s is threatened. I strongly believe that it is an ill-advised idea to cancel admissions to it at such short notice. The Queen’s BFA program has an excellent reputation and is the only program of its sort in Eastern Ontario not counting Ottawa. Preventing admission of students to the program’s first year could well turn out to be the first step towards diluting and downgrading an intensive degree program which has contributed much to cultural life both at Queen’s and in Kingston. It is ironic that Queen’s is building a state of the art performing arts centre and at the same time planning to diminish the presence of the visual arts on campus. Please reconsider the decision and allow the one year requested by this petition for full discussion of the matter including all interested parties, Fine Arts faculty and students as well as administration. (Margaret Hughes [recent President of the Kingston Arts Council])

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I think the students deserve this [i.e., “lifting the suspension…by at least one year”] and so much more. (Rebecca Anweiler, 1 December)

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This and other arts programs are at the heart of Queen’s University. Losing such a valuable program would not reflect well on the integrity of the university as a whole. (Maayke Schurer, 1 December)

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The suspension of the admissions has already had a damaging effect on how fine arts at Queen’s is perceived. I have been asked by several people, “Why is Queen’s closing its fine arts programs?” I realize this is not the intention, but nevertheless it is the impact and it discourages students from considering Queen’s. (Dr. Julie Salverson, 1 December)

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I support the idea that there are alternatives to simply suspending the program. I find it more than a little suspicious that after extensive facilities upgrading for buildings and roads that went well beyond budgets there are no longer funds to support the programs for which the roads and building were presumably built. On another note, although I understand the reason behind the suggestion, I’m concerned that replacing tenure-stream careers with sessional appointments will, in the long-run, jeopardize job security in future academic careers. Academic freedom, secure positions, pensions, health benefits… Once a precedent such as this has been set it is diffcult if not impossible to reverse. Be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. (Maggie Atkinson, 1 December)

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The BFA program is vital in so many ways and the repercussions of this decision will be felt far beyond the university itself.  (Robert Wiens, 1 December)

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I think that it is appalling that Queen’s would allow the entire program to be effectively shut down. For an institution that is entrusted to be focused on visions of the future, it seems to me to be incredibly short sighted. I suppose it speaks more to how some value creativity and what role the arts might have. If the School of Art is allowed to be ended in this manner, it will indeed be a sad day for the visual arts community here in Kingston. Just as this community is about to celebrate in 2012 the anniversary of the oldest arts council in Ontario and the value that this community has held for the arts, we might have to endure this setback. I hope that it is not too late to have this decision changed for the betterment of everyone involved. I am sure there is a creative and viable alternative to simply shuttering the school. I urge the Board to give those souls trying to come up with such, a bit more time. If they can, your institution and this community will be in a better and stronger position going forward. These students still have dreams and visions to be realized. I, for one, want them to be able to do it here – not somewhere else. As it has been in the past, the School of Art has a critical role to play in the cultural vitality of this community. (Harry Symons, 1 December)

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Thanks largely to the Queen’s University Fine Art program, Kingston is becoming a beacon of arts and culture in Canada. Kingston has seen five new galleries open in the last five years, and the Kingston arts council is larger and more present than ever. This is a progressive time for the arts in Kingston, not a time to cut out Kingston’s largest contributor to this cultural growth. Please reconsider this decision and recognize the significance of the arts in Kingston as a city that is finally appearing on the map in terms of arts and culture.  (Zac Kenny, 1 December)

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This is ridiculous. Fine Arts are as essential as mathematics.  (Anonymous, 2 December)

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I graduated in 1977 from Queen’s – Honours Theatre. I am stunned that Queen’s would turn its back on the arts – fine arts – my experience in the arts at Queen’s informs what I do today – as an arts educator at SFU I recognize that the universities are being challenged financially – it should not be the arts however that carry the burden – too easily marginalized, too easily underestimated as a place of study, creativity, exploration, and future investment. I hope that this decision is reversed. (Dr. Lynn Fels, 2 December)

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Just by announcing that you might erase it you’ve cost Queen’s Fine Arts a great amount of reputation. (Anonymous, 2 December)

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Besides the fact that the Fine Arts program is absolutely essential to Queen’s University, we must also take into account how unfair and fast this decision was. (Faria Jafri, ASUS Rep to the AMS, 2 December)

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In my small home I have 6 paintings done by graduating students of the Queen’s BFA. Our home would not be the same without these works. They are an important part of our lives.  (James King, 2 December)

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This is an incredibly important and unique program that should be allowed to continue admittance as Queen’s should be striving to maintain academic prestige.  (Francesca, 2 December)

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I am a Queen’s grad and intend to take more fine arts classes in the future. Why is it when money is cut the creative and inventive nature of the human is curbed? This is when it is needed most!  (Cathie Hamilton, 2 December)

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A shame to lose this program.  (Jean Cockburn, 2 December)

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Ivory tower without fine art is like academia without academics or body without soul.  (Louis Kovacs, 2 December)

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As a graduate of BFA ’83, I strongly oppose suspending admissions – make it work!  (Mary E. Crawford, 2 December)

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The Arts programs are just as important as Math and Science. Keep the BFA program open! (Eva Burdzinski, 2 December)

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Don’t be a fart — bring back the art!  (Pippa D-F, 2 December)

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I was going to go into the arts but because culture in this country seems to be frowned upon, I’m getting my BSci. It is hard enough to make it in this country as an artist, so we should be supportive, not take away their program. People say that the only way to make it big in the arts is to be in Europe or Asia, but look at the artists Canada has put out:  Glenn Gould (musician), the Group of Seven (Impressionist painters), Bill Reid (sculptor), and hundreds of others. Is the answer to “how do we make Canada move forward?” really “delete the programs”?  “The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection” – Michelangelo. We may not be a religious country anymore but that doesn’t mean art can’t inspire and influence generations. (Dave Ellis, 2 December)

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The fine arts are a crucial part to our society. Art is the most important manner of expressing ourselves with either brush, stage, or sound. I myself am in the York BA Theatre program. To me the arts are and always will be, the most important part of us. (Jonathan, 2 December)

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It is a sad lack of vision that my alma mater is shrinking the art narrative of Queen’s, of Kingston, of Ontario, of Canada, and the art process of the whole globe. Art is a paramount expression of our culture. Economy does not exist without art. (Gerhard Harpe, 2 December)

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Queen’s seems to be spending more money on recreation and spectator sports than the fine arts, but more Queen’s students will make their future livings and contributions to society in art than in professional football or basketball. Our priorities seem unworthy of a university. We’ve disbanded the Department of German and built a gym with a sub-Olympic pool. That’s bush league.  (George Clark, 2 December)

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The suspension of the BFA programme is an incredibly short-sighted response and represents the sort of short-term economic thinking that led to the current economic mess at Queen’s and beyond. The BFA at Queen’s consistently punches above its weight in terms of what it does for the reputation of the university and for the cultural well-being of Kingston. Dean MacLean, let’s not embrace Tea Party philosophy and bring the University down to the lowest common denominator. (Ben Darrah, 2 December)

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Death by a thousand cuts is the cruelest way to make necessary reductions. Suspension of enrolment is actually a death knell for the BFA and everyone knows that. I would have thought more of Queen’s if it had the courage to make a principled decision one way or the other…support the programme or abolish it. This piecemeal approach is reprehensible.  (Michèle LaRose BA (Queen’s ’74), 2 December)

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This program is important to a lot of people, students and staff. Don’t take it away from them.  (Jennifer MacMillan, 2 December)

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BFA program is an excellent program for many students. (Sarah Pathak, 2 December)

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The arts are important for the creative thinking that we all need to improve our quality of life.  (Erika Olson, 2 December)

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As a proud Queen’s graduate (BAH Art History 2002), I am dismayed at the University’s decision to suspend the Fine Art program. I urge the administration to creatively address the issues that led to the suspension and reverse their decision. (Rodney Carter, 2 December)

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This school is being run into the ground.  (Hillary Jack, 2 December)

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Having a post-secondary art program is important for the whole Kingston cultural community, not just Queen’s. This is a very bad decision (to suspend). (Dave Gordon, 2 December)

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Only two adjunct professors and four tenure for 107 students? Art conservation has the same amount as fine arts, but there are TEN students in their program. It sounds like Queen’s administration is saying the BFA program isn’t worth even one adjunct. (Emma Caldwell, 2 December)

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The breath and width of Queen’s academics must be preserved to support all students. Similar cuts are not even being considered for some programs that the University seems to value more highly. Why should an entire, well respected and achieving program be dissolved when other programs are not touched? (Theresa Fritz-Endres, 2 December)

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We need artists to help keep the community vibrant and energetic.  (Bob Brooks, 2 December)

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Aside from the negative impact this will have on students, the broader Kingston community also stands to lose so much of its cultural vitality.  BFA students and grads contribute to our city through their participation in and development of countless arts organizations and projects. (Sayyida Jaffer, 2 December)

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I’m a concerned BFA Alumnus from the class of 2002! Please lift the suspension!!! (Angela Walsh, 2 December)

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Shame on Queen’s for trying to cancel such an important program.  (Scott Rutherford, 2 December)

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A good friend of mine worked extremely hard all through high school, just for the chance that she would be accepted into Queen’s art program. She got in, and then the school says they’re going to cut it. Art is a way of life, it gives meaning to a person’s creative ability. If you take that away without even a negotiation or an agreed common ground, you’re going to get a lot of pissed-off young adults making a stand. There has to be some way to incorporate art programs back into Queen’s. I don’t know why it’s looked at as not as important as the other courses, but in all honesty, I think it’s one of the most important courses that you offer. (Shannon, 2 December)

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Surely there are other ways to balance the budget. The public image of Queen’s university cannot afford to be damaged anymore this year. This should be thought of when contemplating the BFA suspensions. (Emily Hayes, 2 December)

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This is a very shortsighted move on the part of the university. (Jane Derby, 2 December)

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Yes, Queen’s has a great debt. This, however, is not the proper way to make that up. Stupid mistakes and decisions have led to this and it is not right. Students do not deserve to be punished for the faults of the administration. (Matthew O’Connor, 2 December)

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Is Queen’s to remain a university, or is it to reduce itself to merely a school of business and institute of engineering, computing, and bio sciences? (Maurice Breslow, 2 December)

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All arts are important, regardless of the cost [….] this suspension is doing irrevocable damage to the university’s image!  (Laurent Boivin, 2 December)

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The fine arts are, much like other humanities, imperative to guiding students in their search for some truths. I believe that the program should not only be kept, but also made available to other programs such as art history or education. (Alice Pelot, 2 December)

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Don’t punish the students for administration’s problems. (Isabella Jope, 2 December)

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It is important in this world of homogenization that pure fine art programmes continue to exist.  The people who do not think in a straight line will be required more and more for the challenges in the future of this planet. (Bronagh Lawson, 2 December)

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Please don’t cancel such a valuable program… the world needs as much beauty as we can get! (Julia Armstrong, 2 December)

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I am a Fine Arts grad and a Visual Arts Teacher. I am witnessing the death of the Arts in secondary/post secondary and its withering in society. Do not cut funding to Fine Arts – we produce enough bankers, lawyers and engineers. (Raju Sharma, 2 December)

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Why are the arts always the first to be chopped? This is very backwards thinking!  (Kathleen Peer, 2 December)

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Come on. Does anyone really think that a University environment is not enriched by a commitment to the Arts? A college focuses on the occupations, please have a broader view of the development of the mind and of society in general. (Steven Spencer, 2 December)

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Please do not allow this travesty to occur.  (Taryn Webb, BAH, MAC (Queen’s University), 2 December)

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Dear Dean MacLean, Principal Woolf, and the BoT, Please visit Ontario Hall. Go on a tour and meet the art students in their milieu. You will see some of the most amazing works and the huge amount of passion the students have for what they are doing. It’s incredible and something you have to experience for yourselves. Queen’s should pride itself on the unique education it offers students. Please do not suspend the program because of a lack of creative solutions to the university’s deficit.  (Josephine Minhinnett, 2 December)

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This is one of the most recognized fine arts program in the province. What can you be thinking about closing this down? If they can run a full football team, surely the alumni can support the arts as well. Learning in all ways needs to be supported in the education system, no matter what the level. Elementary through to University.  (Sandra Sartor, 2 December)

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It’s ridiculous how they say that there aren’t “resources” when clearly the money being spent in this school is not being spread equally among the faculties.  (Megan Young, 2 December)

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This programme doesn’t just add a completely necessary dimension to life at Queen’s…it also benefits the entire community with the addition of such creative inquiry and talent. (Lin Bennett, 2 December)

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I am a science major, and believe that ALL subjects should be represented at Queen’s. The Fine Arts program at Queen’s is an excellent one, and I believe that suspending it will do more harm than good. Please considering hiring an adjunct professor, and continuing to offer the Fine Arts program at Queen’s. (Amber Morton, 2 December)

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Queen’s fine arts program is unrivaled. I cannot fathom why Queen’s would even consider discontinuing such a rich part of the school, and dare I say of the larger community.  (Bobby Vandenberg, 2 December)

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I specifically chose Queen’s because of their unique BFA program, and I absolutely love it!  (Rebecca, 2 December)

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What is a university without a Fine Art programme? I say it is sadly lacking!! (Mark Gommer, 2 December)

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This is a valuable program that needs to be preserved! (Marg Lake, 2 December)

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Please reconsider this decision. The fine arts are an essential part of our culture. The university has a responsibility to educate artists in the context of a broad academic program so that they can see how their discipline fits and interacts with others. The education of all students at Queen’s will be diminished by the elimination of the BFA program. (Kevin McQuay, 2 December)

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Fine Arts are the cornerstone of freedom of expression, creativity, and innovation. This short-sighted approach will have negative repercussions for years to come. Please reconsider this decision and restore funding to the program so that creative minds will continue to find a place to develop, grow and study at Queen’s University. (Michael P. Patterson, 2 December)

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My niece is attending this program and is in her second year. This decision has had a negative impact on her and many of her classmates. With so many programs being cut on campuses around the world, why cut a program that is a drawing card to the school? It deems the program as being less than other departments. How barren our walls would be without artists using their skills to decorate them. We need well rounded lives and schools. Fine arts is part of that circle. (Paula Gillis, 2 December)

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I am a BFA graduate who was fortunate enough to be among the first group of students to study in Ontario Hall when it opened in 1978. After graduation I stayed on in Kingston and taught art and photography for 31 years, continued to work as an artist and am now the Executive Director of the Kingston Arts Council. Arts and culture represent the heart of any institution or community. Kingston, a city known for its beauty, is a community with a distinctive cultural flavour, enhanced by the artists who live here. If art students and graduates lose the opportunity to become active and valued artistic members of our community then the spiritual health and wholeness of our community suffers. If we lose fine art students now we also lose the potential of what these individuals could contribute to our city. Perhaps the value of arts and culture in a community cannot be measured monetarily but it would be a mistake to underestimate their intrinsic value within any organization or community. It would be short-sighted to think that any kind of creative loss would not impact negatively on the artistic vibrancy of our city. The BFA is a program that should continue as a valued and essential part of Queen’s University as a whole. The suspension of the BFA would profoundly impact the aesthetic balance within the university and our community, now, and in the future.  (Karen Dolan, 2 December)

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The fine arts program MUST stay.  (Mia Donaldson, 2 December)

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The knowledge-based economy will not be able to sustain itself solely on the hyper-specialization of scientists and economists. Innovation can also come from the artistic minds of those receiving a wonderful education at Queen’s finest BFA program. Please consider carefully the effects of this choice. (Zeena Zaiyouna, 2 December)

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Art is something that should be appreciated and accepted, not turned down and cancelled. Please keep this program running! (Sergej Krivenko, 2 December)

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Sadly, universities have become businesses. In sacrificing the arts they nurture ignorance and the development of a society that knows little more than the ever changing value of the dollar. Money comes and goes, indeed, and balancing budgets is a necessary feature of today’s universities; that said, in cutting programs that do not “pay” they abandon their dedication to higher learning, and this is no small thing. A society without culture is not civilized, and a university without education in the arts is a very poor excuse for a university. (J. T. Winik, 2 December)

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DON’T CANCEL IT!!!!  (Craig Huntley, 2 December)

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The choice to suspend the Fine Arts program, though well intentioned, runs the great risk of concealing some of our brightest stars here. (Jeremy Gretton, 2 December)

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The creative arts are, in general, the first to be sacrificed in times of financial crisis – – over many instances however, the long-term damage is evident.  (Robert Patterson, 2 December)

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I am a 15-year Instructor in the Fine Arts Program at St. Lawrence College and am the developer of the SLC Fine Arts, Textile Design Program. It is vital that my students and those from across Canada planning to enter the design and fibre fields as well as those who have a desire to create the best of the best all-Canadian home and commercial arts are offered the opportunity to develop their interests as a part of our BFA program at Queen’s University. With a reputation as THE program to attend in Eastern Canada, Queen’s BFA and MFA programs are stepping stones into the world which keeps us all seeking fine arts in our lives, the joy of creating beautiful things to enjoy in our homes, as we move throughout our lives sharing the arts with our future generations as parents and as global participants in a world seeking growth and creative development in the arts. I can’t imagine Queen’s without the BFA Program. (Bethany Garner MFA, University of Michigan MBA, Michigan State University Instructor, St. Lawrence College, 3 December)

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This is the stupidest idea ever! Do not get rid of such a valuable program. (Katherine, 3 December)

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Cutting the Queen’s BFA Program is incredibly shortsighted and will do irreparable damage to the greater Queen’s community. (Andrew Gay, 3 December)

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Queen’s should start caring less about its buildings and more about the students who are educated inside them. (Melissa Pullara, 3 December)

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As a Queen’s alumnus (Sci ’08 + QUIP), I feel strongly that even those programs that are unprofitable should be given substantial support as part of the fulfillment of the fundamental job of universities: to educate both broadly and deeply. (Mike Gretton , 3 December)

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As a parent who has so far invested significant sums of money in Queen’s U, I would expect better resources and support for the Fine Art Program. If Queen’s has a commitment to having the BFA, then succession planning is part of good management. Why would the program not be properly staffed? (Jean Scribner , 3 December)

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Testimonials Received by Email:

I am staggered that I should have to plead for re-consideration over closing the Fine Arts Department at Queen’s.  It is sad and unimaginative to close so vital a program, one so important on so many levels.

Creativity is essential to every curriculum whether it is business or sciences or Arts.  I am discouraged that this has to be pointed out because it seems self-evident. Society needs to nurture the ability to think for oneself in creative ways.  Studies in the Arts feed this capacity no matter what direction they pursue.  (Alana Kapell, 12 November)

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            I am enrolled in the BFA at Queen’s University, year 2.  I am writing to tell how much this program means to me.  When I was in high school I found it difficult finding universities that would allow me to do what I would like.  My plan was to become a teacher.  I had a passion for Art as well as mathematics, and therefore decided to try becoming a rare Art/Math and possibly French teacher for secondary school. Among the many schools I had few options, for many would require me to pick up math courses outside of the regular school year. At Queen’s I had the 2 best paths to achieving my dream. I could take the BFA program, which would give me a strong concentration working directly with art, or go through the concurrent education program, and pick up 2 studio classes at some point. I decided the BFA program was right for me. Not only would I be working first-hand with the materials, but it was a small program with a tight knit community that would allow me to have personal relationships with my professors and fellow artists, and this would help me grow as an artist.

Upon entering the program, there was concern about my year. They accepted 40-something of us into the program, about twice what they usually accept. I felt blessed to be among those chosen. Coming to Queen’s I was slightly nervous. The more I learned what this program was about, the more I felt at home. Queen’s BFA is unlike any other in this country. We work closely with our peers and professors to build our identities as artists and have amazing opportunities to study other academic fields. We have 12 hours a week of studio alone, not to mention our artwork outside of class. I can only hope that students behind me can have the same experience I have, because it is the best. I certainly will be building my students up to attend such a highly appreciated program as Queen’s. As I move on in life I look forward to continuing my relationship with the BFA program, and this cannot happen if the program does not exist. Art at Queen’s is important and should be cherished by other faculties and faculty members. In conclusion I strongly believe that more should be done to revive the program and keep it strong, even if that means finding more “resources.”  (Hilary Longtin, 14 November)

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As an alumna of the program, the news of the suspension brought tears to my eyes. Queen’s BFA program is incredible: amazing profs, courses, facilities, staff, campus, and the list goes on. During my 4 years at Queen’s I was given the opportunity to learn from truly great professors, to work in the wood and welding shops, to be a TA, and to volunteer on the Art Headship Search Committee.  All of these experiences created lasting memories.  Ontario Hall quickly felt like home and I can’t imagine that it may not continue to be the same for other artists.  I can’t imagine Queen’s without a program dedicated to Fine Arts–it would be a tragedy.  (Karine Thibault, 14 November)

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I have taught studio in 3 universities and interacted with students in many.  I can say without hesitation that the BFA at Queen’s has one of most talented and committed student communities anywhere.   The critical mass of this talent and commitment combined with the work environment is what enables its graduates achieve significant contributions to their field and beyond.     These students compete for the seats available and come together as committed participants in a studio programme that is vibrant precisely because of the 120 student capacity that we have committed to over the years .   Fiscal problems are a reality faced universally on campus and should be tackled accordingly.  Fixing things that are not broken is not a solution and the BFA should continue with its full complement of gifted students.  (Sylvat Aziz, 16 November)

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A friend of mine received on-the-spot acceptance from Parson’s Paris during National Portfolio Day.  However, she decided to choose Queen’s BFA before Parson’s [. . . .]

Personally, I chose Queen’s BFA over other Universities and Art Schools because Queen’s provides serious, intensive studio practices as well as the opportunity for students to engage in other academic areas like the sciences–unlike the fine arts program at U of T or Western, where only fundamental art classes are offered. Queen’s BFA students are producing artwork at the artist level. They are empowered with the skills, knowledge, and experience to go on into art conservation, art therapy, and many other fields. Thus, the fine arts program is unique as it produces academically inclined artists.  (Anonymous, 18 November)

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The Queen’s Fine Art program is the program I call home. I get to spend twelve-plus hours a week doing something I love and get a degree for it. How many people can truly say that? When I came for a tour of Queen’s in the fall before I applied (2009), I fell in love with the campus and I fell in love with the description of the art program. At the time, I loved it that Queen’s seemed to invest so much in art, even devoting one of the prettiest buildings to the art program. I have almost lost that feeling after my experiences this year regarding the admissions suspension and regarding Ontario Hall literally falling apart. I do not want this wonderful program that is filled with creativity to be lost. The day that Queen’s does not have a graduating BFA class will be a very sad day.  (Nicole Kerouac, second-year BFA, 18 November)

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Art is real.  Everything else is just everything else.  (Emily Zielke, 20 November)

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The BFA program offered at Queen’s particularly attracted me because of the intensiveness of the program in combination with the opportunity to take other courses, in particular science courses. I value the chance to minor in a science program, something difficult to do at any other schools while still receiving a worthwhile Fine Art education. If it were not for these opportunities in Queen’s Fine Art program, I would not have considered attending Queen’s for either Art or Science.  (Anonymous, 21 November)

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So we are becoming one of those impersonal, small-scale, factory-style meat markets we once defined ourselves against—a program that only pretends there is choice.  “Sorry, you can’t choose anymore, just number your preferences and we will do our best to accommodate you.”  When do we ask whether we are still providing a valuable education to those who make commitments of four years and $22,000-$50,000 to this university and this program?

To be as clear as possible, here is what Queen’s offered five years ago, when I accepted even though it was the only school that didn’t offer me a scholarship:

Individual studio space starting in first year:  one was assigned individual (unshared) studio space on the first day of every module, and got to keep it until the module finished. Outside of class-time, one was not only encouraged but obligated to spend time in one’s  studio space, producing work.  Both facilities and resources (at cost) were provided for every student.

“Module system”:  six weeks (minimum) with one professor, one space, one discipline or area of study (e.g., paint, print, sculpture, “TBM”), and one project to wrap your head around.   No balancing act between more than one discipline.  Some may argue for the virtues of ‘cross fertilization,’ but that happened naturally as one moved up in level and through various modules (one doesn’t need both classes in one week for various areas to influence each other).  Most professors encouraged cross-disciplinary work if it satisfied the requirements, regardless of the title of the course.

Small class sizes:  Thirty students started in first year, and numbers fell off over time. By fourth year, anywhere from 15 to 25 students  shared five professors (at that time there were four with tenure and one adjunct, and you could work with two per term). Your class had a family feeling because you spent so much time with classmates throughout the four years.  The whole program had only 110 to120 students, all in Ontario Hall, so it had a tight-knit community feeling. Most graduates reflect romantically on the “buzz” in Ontario Hall the week before “crits.”

Practicing artists as professors and visiting artist (4-6 throughout year):  students not only saw what their professors produced but what they were currently producing (note the progressive tense) and they could also look up their CV’s and see something notable within the last 3 years. And if their professors weren’t doing it for them, once every six or so weeks someone would guest-lecture and speak to students.

In four short years, I’ve seen many of these strengths dwindle away–some no longer exist–to the point where in third year I had to stop giving tours to prospective students because I wasn’t even sure what the program was still offering.

When students spend more time talking and worrying about the future of their program—which in my experience began with the budget-cut announcement when I was in second year—than about what they are learning and producing, there is something very wrong.  (Anonymous, 24 November)

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14 Responses to Testimonials for Queen’s Fine Arts (November 2011)

  1. roberttruszkowski says:

    A university is a place where intellectual inquiry ought to be positioned above all else. I’ve also learned, however, that it’s a business, and running a business is at odds with intellectual inquiry. Extravagances such as art (and the humanities in general) are easy targets when accountants’ spreadsheets demand reconciliation. Yet, art is the very thing on which the judgment of so many of humanity’s great societies rest.

    As a graduate of the BFA programme, I will be forever indebted to Queen’s for the panoply of opportunities it has afforded me. Pondering these events in my studio half a continent away, I am deeply, profoundly, saddened by the decision of my university to end its relationship with contemporary art.

    Robert Truszkowski, Assistant Professor, Department of Visual Arts, University of Regina

  2. Sarah Ammons says:

    Suspending Admissions is a terrible mistake. So was the way that the administration handled releasing this news to the department. It was not uncharacteristic of Queen’s… but it was a surprise. My experience in the Fine Art program at Queen’s has been very positive within the department, but the general attitude of Queen’s administration has seemed to show us that they value the sciences (and athletics) more highly. This suspension really demonstrates how Fine Art is undervalued at Queen’s as an intellectual discipline.

    The other part of this, is that Queen’s has a really unique program operating on a “module” system. This not only allows students a studio space for the term where they can leave their works in progress – large or small – and gives them the chance to develop art like a practicing artist does in reality, but also it allows students to be able to study other subjects. Many students feel that their work and lives have really benefitted from the ability to take science courses, film courses, english courses, etc. – I myself have enjoyed the opportunity to minor in Philosophy. Queen’s is one of the few schools in Canada that allow these opportunities. So, Queen’s if you really do love us, find the funding and stop being silly.

  3. Emma says:

    I find it so inspiring to find so much love and support for the BFA program from these testimonials. As a current BFA student at Queen’s, it has become too easy to feel discouraged and disrespected in light of recent events. The truth is, there is no fine arts program like this one anywhere I can think of – the small class sizes, the studio space, the one-on-one with your prof, and the well-rounded education that one receives by taking electives and minors in other subjects. All these reasons constitute why I came to Queen’s in the first place. I just wish the administration could look at our small program as the gem that it is and not as just another detached business decision.

    Despite the announcement of the suspension of admissions for next year, we still had to go ahead with the BFA open house last weekend. I had the pleasure of telling prospective students and their parents why the program is so great while explaining why they don’t get to come. Too many people were crushed – many said Queen’s was by far their first choice.

  4. Milly Ristvedt says:

    Artist Andre Bieler’s vision, passion and commitment were responsible for establishing what has become Art History, Art Conservation and BFA Programs at Queen’s. As one of its first resident artists in the 1930s, Bieler was also catalyst for the founding of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, now a respected research gallery. The irony should not be lost on those tasked with the critical and creative thinking required now to find a positive outcome to the “assessment of the faculty resources available to support the [BFA] program.”

  5. Tara Cooper says:

    Despite its small size, graduates from Queen’s BFA program have gone on to have a significant impact on the cultural landscape of Canada at the macro and micro level. Consider Janet Cardiff, one of the most internationally recognized artist working today, represented Canada in the 49th Biennale, Venice in 2001, or John Kissick, current Director of the School of Fine Art and Music, University of Guelph. Queen’s BFA program is unique—a small program set within a large research-based environment with many resources, offers one-on-one support and critical feedback, academically rigorous with working studio space provided from first year on. It is a jewel within the fine arts programs offered across Canada. As a former graduate, it planted seeds that have sustained and cultivated my practice as a working artist and educator for the past seventeen years. It was with great sadness and disappointment that I read the Faculty of Arts decision to suspend the program. I truly hope that the efforts put forth by the petition and the multitude of testimonials will mobilize, compelling the University to re-consider.
    Tara Cooper, BFA ’94
    Assistant Professor
    Department of Fine Arts
    University of Waterloo

  6. Christine Dewancker says:

    As a recent graduate of the BFA program I was extremely disheartened to learn that the Faculty of Arts and Science have decided to stop admissions to the department in 2012 with the potential of negotiating the current structure of Fine Arts. The Fine Arts program is unique in its intimate studio structure and attracts students from all over the world. Learning and working alongside renowned professors and a small number of peers has made my experience at Queen’s rich and meaningful. Changing this structure of the program would greatly affect the strong community and network the program currently promotes and fosters. Despite the small size of the program, many of the Fine Arts students have a large effect on the greater Kingston community. The new influx of students is a stimulant for the growing cultural community in Kingston and many find opportunity for further growth and learning in the city which hosts Queen’s University. It is unfortunate that the size of this program makes it vulnerable when budget cuts have been felt across academic departments. What is even more unfortunate, however, is that Queen’s cannot find the financial support to continue one of the best art programs in the country.
    C.Dewancker

  7. Ryan Johnson says:

    The Arts are what make us unique, creative thinkers. Individuals. Problem solvers. They are what make us human. I owe a debt of gratitude to the Fine Arts program I experienced in London – it made me realize that it’s okay to not always have the answers – the beauty is in the question. To me, that is what Art is all about. I was extremely saddened to learn of the Fine Arts program at Queens being shut down. Truly a shame.

    -Ryan Johnson

  8. Morgan Wedderspoon says:

    Today I received the latest issue of the Queen’s Alumni Review, which has prompted me to express in writing my deepening concern for the future of my alma mater.

    I am now the owner of a degree on the verge of extinction: the Bachelor of Fine Art Honours degree from Queen’s University, a program which has officially existed since 1974. As you may have read in recent news, it has been announced that enrollment into the program will be suspended for the next academic year due to inadequate funding.

    I was bombarded with this news, with the outpouring of grief in the form of status updates and articles posted to Facebook by my fellow BFAH alumni, friends, current students, and professors. This is a huge loss.

    I joined our student council back in my third year in 2007, when discussion of looming budget cuts was taking place. I would become the head of student council in my final year, where I would sacrifice much of my time worrying, in meetings, and talking to professors and administrators to get a sense of the problems the program was facing. It became clear to me then that there would be no consideration of a protection plan for vulnerable programs like mine where cuts threatened to halt operations altogether.

    Frankly, my role on student council was an unfortunate distraction from what was meant to be the culminating period of my education, not to mention a deeply demoralizing pursuit for someone about to graduate and venture out into the wilderness that is the “real world.” No student should have to spend their time and energy trying to solve this kind of problem: the starvation and eventual abandonment of their program of study.

    Post-graduation, as a printmaker, I have come to value most of all the opportunities I had at Queen’s University in the printmaking department, aspects of which can be difficult to find at other academic institutions or print ateliers.

    For one thing, there is the option of using the highly coveted UV screenprinting technology: this speeds up the process incredibly, immediately drying each layer so that there is no waiting time holding up the addition of subsequent layers. In the lithographic process, whereby an image is processed and printed off of a slab of limestone, one usually has to use the toxic substance lithotine. At Queen’s, however, a much safer product called estisol is used. Students also learn the technique of waterless plate lithography.

    Since graduating, I have not had the opportunity to use estisol, and have had to learn for the first time how to process a lithographic stone using lithotine. Nor have I seen UV printing or waterless plate lithography. Queen’s Fine Art’s dedication to making the printmaking process faster, safer, and as up to date as possible with current technologies is a clear indication of the cutting edge nature of the program, and yet another strong marker of its value and uniqueness.

    Now, to be clear, this is not an expensive program to run. This is a small class of 30 (or less) students, a handful of excellent professors, one building, and four areas of specialization. Students auction off their work and apply for grant funding to have a graduating exhibit in their building. They apply for grants to help cover the costs of educational class trips – like the annual fourth-year printmaking trip to North Adams, Massachusetts. They scrape together what they can to cover the costs of art supplies. These are hardworking students who make opportunities for themselves and do not expect to be handed anything they did not work for.

    Curiously, in the article posted to CBC, a retiring professor is cited as part of the problem. This is a red herring. Hire a new one – or better yet, if the professor in question made a tenured salary, hire two or three, making the program in fact more affordable. Hire young, qualified candidates who meet the criteria, who are as I envision my future self: champing at the bit for a teaching position and a way into the world of higher education. I assure you there is no shortage of these candidates. These excuses do not satisfy.

    This is a unique and valuable program, a national educational asset. With such small classes, students get to know each other and their professors intimately. In the first two years of the program, studio curriculum is divided into modules allowing students to focus for six weeks at a time on developing one method of making: printmaking, painting, sculpture, or time-based media.

    In third and fourth year, students choose what areas they want to work in and develop a body of work. An invaluable resource, visiting artists come to lecture or create work in residence, allowing students to ask questions, gain knowledge about the artist profession, and get inspired by diverse ways of working.

    Ontario Hall, the building where the program is housed, really does become like a second home. A refreshing change from the library where there is the quiet energy of students researching and writing, the studios of Ontario Hall are abuzz with conceptual and visual problem solving, creativity and discussion. In the midst of a pre-critique frenzy, when students are making that final push to get their work to a state of resolution, they often consult each other, seeking constructive feedback. Without a doubt, there is a real sense of community in this program: its energy is palpable and is fondly remembered by its graduates.

    It is precisely this sense of community that is the Fine Art program’s strongest asset. While we can be competitive at times, we are ultimately a supportive family. Students in any year of the program are friendly and open towards each other, making peer mentorship easy and natural.

    Indeed, it is objectionable that Queen’s should decide to drop its support for the production of contemporary art, and at times also its offerings in contemporary art history. And yet, subject area aside, why would Queen’s not take pride in an exceptional program? Why does it seem that so much money is being spent at this university on things other than education? What about the adequate and sustainable funding of quality programs? At the same time, why is it that students are struggling with rather than overcoming mental health issues?

    I feel it is my responsibility as a graduate of Queen’s University to ask these questions. How can I take pride in a university that takes no pride in me, my professors, and those who share my degree? How am I to react to this decision other than with outrage?

    I sincerely hope that Queen’s will reevaluate its choices as it tries to weather these tough economic times. When sacrifices must be made, should students’ well-being and the quality of their education not be untouchable core values? I, for one, certainly believe so.

    Written by Morgan, BFAH ’09

  9. Jennifer Prevost says:

    I was deeply saddened when I heard the news of this suspension. I am shocked to see a program with such an increasing number of applicants and interest be suspended. In my time at Queens I had the opportunity to work directly with prospective students who were applying to the program with such enthusiasm and curiosity. It is sad to see a program with such a wonderful reputation and amazing faculty be lost. The BFA program was so informative and educational in developing and inspiring my artistic practice, and I am truly heartbroken at the prospect of losing such a unique gem. I truly hope the powers at be will re-consider this decision.

  10. In response to Queen’s University’s decision to freeze admission to the BFA program. It is important to offer a diverse education in this field, and while art colleges have great programs, Universities and especially intimate programs, like the one at Queen’s, offer a different quality of education that is significant to further developing the visual arts in Canada and the world.

    In my time at Queen’s I was closely involved with my professors, an experience closer to an apprenticeship than the typical desert of 1000 student classrooms many students face when transitioning into post secondary education. I was not left deflated in the first year of my life outside the University (in the ‘real art world’) unsure of how to approach more experienced artists, intimidated by applications for exhibitions and grants, and overwhelmed the burden of studio rentals. Queen’s offered me a confidence in this field (a field that, as any aspiring artist knows, can be lonely and cut throat) that I believe to be in direct relation to the intimate nature of the program. I have been able to integrate fluidly into art communities in many cities including, Ottawa Ontario and Montreal Quebec. I am saddened to think that future generations will not have the same opportunities that I have had. I truly hope that this admissions freeze for the BFA program is only a temporary measure, and that come time for admission in 2013, this problem will have been rectified. If not, I am disappointed to see how quickly matters of monetary significance can destroy the education of a country’s people. It should not be this easy.

    Tamara Sponder
    BFAH 2009

  11. Melody Telford says:

    I thought I had an inkling of what I was walking into when I entered my first year of the B.F.A. program at Queen’s University. But I didn’t. I didn’t know then how much I would be refined as an artist and as a person by the time I completed my degree in April 2009. Throughout my four years, my technical skills flourished as result of the continual encouragement from my professors and peers. It wasn’t just my techniques that had improved, however, but my mental processes – the way I thought, the way I saw the world.

    The thing about being in a creatively saturated environment is that everything feeds off of everything else. One good idea inspires another and brainstorming with teachers and friends builds and shapes an idea, bringing it to places you know you would never have reached on your own. The coupling of creative minds and the B.F.A. program resulted in limitless possibilities. When I say that the B.F.A. program made me see the world differently, I mean that quite literally. It didn’t take long into the modules (printmaking and sculpture especially) for me to learn that everything and anything could be utilized. I began viewing everything in a new light – even garbage on the street became fodder for my imagination. My mind never settled on the intended purpose for an item, but saw each object as having potential to fulfill my own purposes regardless of what it was designed to do originally.

    I remember talking with one of my housemates one night. She expressed frustration that so many programs don’t train their students to think for themselves. She felt trapped in an endless cycle of meditation and regurgitation. I wasn’t trapped – on the contrary, I felt like I’d been set free. The environment I worked and played in every day was so unique – I’ve never before (or since) experienced the combination of great resources and materials as well as the close proximity of my classmates and teachers. Due in part to the program’s smaller size, we were able to really get to know our professors. The improvements I saw in my work and in myself due to the direct involvement of my B.F.A. professors were drastic. To have such expertise, advice and encouragement so readily available and easily accessible was invaluable.

    My completion of the B.F.A. program taught me good work ethic and I learned to solve problems with resourcefulness and ingenuity. I was not prescribed ways to think, but told to think for myself and to be able to back up my thoughts and beliefs. I now know that creativity is a universal skill that can be applied anywhere if you’re creative enough. And it’s definitely a skill that should be nurtured. Not weeded out. It’s my hope and prayer that students in the future will be able to benefit as richly as I have from Queen’s University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program.

    Sincerely,

    Melody Telford
    B.F.A. (Honours), April 2009

  12. I recently listened to an interview with Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi on CBC Radio where he spoke about the importance of supporting the arts. He mentioned here how the arts are usually a very small investment, much like the Queen’s Fine Arts program, but that these small investments generally result in a large social and economic return for the city. I would encourage the Faculty of Arts and Science to seriously consider what they would be losing by cutting the Fine Arts program.

    Like many on this page, I am a graduate of the Queen’s Fine Art program. Since my recent graduation in 2008 I have become co-owner of an artist studio and residency program called Spark Box Studio. This business has been very successful and I can say, without a doubt, that without having studied in this program I would not be where I am today.

    On top of being the owner of my own studio, I teach a fine art program at Loyalist College. This program helps students build portfolios in preparation for a university or college education in the arts. I often find myself raving about my experience at Queen’s University to my students, and now I am forced to tell them that they won’t be able to have these experiences themselves.

    The structure of the program provided me with the opportunity to experience the life of a creative professional. The ability to become close with faculty gave me the networks required to build my career outside of the classroom. I am always meeting new artists from a wide variety of educational backgrounds and few have had the experiences I did at Queen’s. This unique program and what it has given me sets me apart and makes me proud of the school I was a part of.

  13. Kristi Allik says:

    I feel that it is a great loss to Queen’s University if the FIne Arts program is cut.

  14. Emma Kent says:

    As a 3rd year student of the BFA programme, I was shocked and saddened to learn that the university was suspending admissions. It’s not easy to find a Fine Arts degree at a prestigious university where you can also have your pick of academics. Most BFA programs pigeonhole you into taking only art courses. I’ve had the opportunity to study a variety of subjects in the humanities where I’ve found inspiration for my work, and have many classmates who’ve taken science, commerce, as well as computing courses, keeping up with students in those programs while juggling time consuming studio work.

    A lot of us feel as though we were an easy target because we’re such a small program, but that’s what makes our program great! It’s not that students aren’t applying or interested in the Queen’s BFA, it’s that the quality of education we receive is due to the small class sizes. Having 30 students in a class allows one on one time with profs, as well as studio space that enables us to work and learn. The dedication of the students of the BFA is incredible, as are the facilities we use, and the professors who work so hard to help us develop our skills.

    I truly feel that Queen’s administration doesn’t appreciate or understand how much culture, diversity and creativity the BFA programme adds to our community, not to mention to the greater Kingston community!

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