Departments of Art and Design receive national accreditation

Thanks to the hard work of faculty and students, the Radford University Departments of Art and Design have joined a select group of programs with national accreditation.

Radford is now one of seven Virginia colleges or universities to receive membership in the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Fewer than 400 schools in the nation with art and design programs have received this prestigious accreditation.

“In the arts, there is a fair amount of subjectivity,” said Interim Provost Joseph Scartelli, former dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “But this accreditation means that experts in the discipline have made assessments and judged our faculty and student work to be of the highest quality.”

The process to receive accreditation was revived in 2012, when Roann Barris became chair of the art department. Through conversations with the department’s faculty and their colleagues in design, including Design Chair Holly Cline, they decided pursuing accreditation was a key to advancing both departments.

“When you go to an accredited school, it guarantees that your program has certain quality,” Barris said. “It’s what programs strive for. It’s the seal of approval.”

The road to accreditation consisted of two main sequences, the self-study and the NASAD campus visit. In the former, the departments each compiled several volumes of comprehensive information about curriculum, facilities, faculty members and students. After the study was submitted and reviewed, a panel of faculty members of other NASAD programs visited Radford to further assess the programs.

The departments did not receive immediate accreditation. NASAD deferred a decision until concerns about several factors, largely related to facilities, were met.

In concert with the Office of the Provost, the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the Office of Facilities Management, many of the NASAD concerns we addressed, particularly in the Art Annex and the Porterfield jewelry studio.

“The team had several large concerns, but they were very supportive of our students. We got such excellent feedback on the quality of their work,” Barris said. “And that’s why we knew we could keep going on.”

After several years of going back and forth over suggestions, approvals and concerns, NASAD finally welcomed the programs in June 2016.

“Not all art schools have accreditation, but certainly the leading schools do. It is something students look for when making a decision,” Barris said, also citing the important role accreditation can play in retention.

Department of Art students explore a variety of artistic media and disciplines. Undergraduate students may pursue concentrations such as two-dimensional or three-dimensional studio art, graphic design, art education or art history and museum studies. Graduate students focus on a specific area in either studio art or graphic design. Faculty members are professionally active, exhibiting their work in galleries and museums, presenting papers at academic conferences, and writing articles and books.

The Department of Design educates highly motivated, passionate and creative thinkers across a range of design disciplines. Students are empowered to seek excellence and be perpetually curious. They learn through self-directed processes, active and “hands-on” learning and a mix of academically- and professionally-enriching experiences.

Founded in 1944, NASAD is an association of approximately 346 schools of art and design, primarily at the collegiate level, but also including postsecondary non-degree-granting schools for the visual arts disciplines.  It is the national accrediting agency for art and design and art and design-related disciplines. NASAD also provides information to the public. It produces statistical research, provides professional development for leaders of art and design schools, and engages in policy analysis.

Jun 21, 2016