In the upcoming 2011-2012 academic year, the visual arts department will take further steps to move toward increasing its roster of full-time tenure-track professors.
While the department currently includes two part-time photography positions—held by Visiting Assistant Professor Meggan Gould and Associate Professor Michael Kolster—those positions will be consolidated into one full-time professorship next year.
Gould will serve as a sabbatical replacement for Kolster in 2011-2012, who will be on leave for one year. Upon Kolster's return, he will become the sole full-time photography professor in the visual arts department.
Dean of Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd explained that the staffing change is part of a long-standing effort to move toward more full-time professorships, one that has already resulted in a net increase in the number of full professors at the College.
"A number of years ago, the Curriculum and Educational Policy Committee and the art department determined, following an external review, to move from staffing that relied on many part-time positions to more full-time tenure-track and tenured faculty positions," wrote Judd in an e-mail to the Orient. "That resulted in the hiring of two new assistant professors in the last two years."
Both Judd and Chair of the Visual Arts Department Mark Wethli maintained that the move to one full-time photography professorship will not result in a decrease in either the content of the visual arts curriculum nor the number of photography courses offered.
"The breadth of the curriculum, as well as the total number of photography classes—four per year—will remain the same, augmented, as always, by visiting artists, workshops and field trips," wrote Wethli in an e-mail to the Orient.
Wethli also reported that the change does not reflect a decrease in funding for the visual arts. Judd similarly emphasized that the creation of one full-time photography position should not detract from the department.
"While the staffing resources in the department have been reallocated, they have not been reduced, and the number of courses offered in photography will be stable," wrote Judd.
Kolster said that while having only one photography professor "comes with some costs...[since] we won't have the benefit of two voices that are representing photography," the College hopes to offset the loss by bringing in visiting artists and lecturers with regularity.
"Over the course of the next few years once this conversion occurs, there's been a commitment on the part of the institution to bring into the community a larger number of visiting artists," said Kolster.
Judd also noted that in the coming years, the visual arts department expects to bring in more artists from outside the Bowdoin community to supplement the curriculum, and Kolster suggested that the department offerings might increase with the influx of visiting artists.
"The department does have access to funds for short visits by artists beyond our faculty and they can also take advantage of the various visiting scholar funds that we have to bring distinguished artists to campus for residencies," wrote Judd.
The move to add a full-time photography professorship is meant to add stability to the visual arts department so that its roster of permanent staff more closely resembles that of other departments.
"While we have benefitted tremendously from the vitality and dedication of our part-time faculty, it's also important that we look ahead to the larger picture and the long-term vitality of the department as a whole," wrote Wethli. "Bringing more visual arts faculty into tenured and tenure-track positions ensures a wider range of ideas and perspectives in the development of the curriculum and the governance of the department, while also cultivating the future leadership of the program."
Wethli reported that the visual arts department made similar staffing changes two years ago when it converted a half-time printmaking position into a full-time printmaking and drawing position, and last year when it added a full-time sculpture and architectural design position.
"We will have, in 2012-2013...five full time members of our faculty...we will appear and function much like the other departments in the College," said Kolster.
Professor Gould is currently in her fifth year of a three to five year contract as a visiting professor.
"Professor Gould has been a remarkable and invaluable asset to our program and we will miss her very much," wrote Wethli. "Even though her part-time appointment is coming to close at the end of this semester, we're fortunate that she will be returning next year as a full-time sabbatical replacement."