How heartening it was to read about the demonstration yesterday against the Fairmont State Board of Governors’ decision to close down the School of Fine Arts. Had I known about the rally, I would have been there. Statements made by faculty members and others quoted in the article, highlighting how the loss of the arts programs will have damaging consequences for both campus and town, are precisely correct.
It seems to me that one place where the BOGs got it wrong is in giving more weight to only those values that promote immediate “success,” which is defined in terms of individual or institutional balanced-sheets and economic attainments. Affirming notions of hyper-individualistic achievement through mainly technical education lays on the chopping block our social and cultural life, leading to furthering decay of societal and humane values.
It seems that FSU’s Board of Governors is influenced by business models relying more on materialistic, overly-objective standards. One way to understand this in “Brain Science” terms is to favor only “left brain” attainments of math, facts, figures, and technology while ignoring the capabilities of the “right brain” to explore the larger frontiers of wonder, aesthetics, meaning, beauty and expansive understanding. The bridge between left and right brain (Corpus Callosum) isn’t further developed, and the traditional role of a “university,” as an openness to truth and meaning wherever they can be found is severely impeded. As I survey the online FSU catalog to find where something of the larger role of the university can be found, the only place where it might exist seems to be in the English Department, which includes poetic and prose exposure. How sad!
Fine Arts programs involve both left and right brain stimulation as students in these fields must acquire the same technical prowess required to master their particular artistic medium (left brain) while gaining more expansive experiences of horizons beyond mere facts and figures (right brain). What other programs offered at FSU can make that same claim? FSU surely can take pride in the numerous artists it has given to the world, many in very notable positions, who are a gateway to unlocking the whole mind, both the capabilities of technical competence and comprehensions life’s larger dimensions.
How very unfortunate it would be if what is recognized as one of the finest Fine Arts Schools in the state with an exceptionally stellar faculty, is voted out of existence by limited, uninspired and dull “doing business” preoccupation. Not calculated in the BOGs decision are the goodwill of the community and larger region toward FSU, the impact on our area’s quality of life, and the rather bogged-down atmosphere that would be left without the Fine Arts programs.