Walking through the halls of Potter, it is obvious that students have outgrown the building.
They sit on the floor using laptops or playing instruments. They are overflowing classrooms and studios. They rehearse outside to escape the cramped building when able. Finally, change is on its way.
The Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jeanne Daffon has submitted a plan to achieve two things: splitting the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and renovating Potter Hall.
“Its an area on our campus that is growing. The number of students has probably closed to tripled in the last few years so there’s a lot of energy there, a lot of new things going on, a lot of new students,” Daffron said.
While the original plan included dividing LAS into a College of Fine Arts and Humanities, and a College of Social and Natural Sciences; however, that plan has been reworked to propose a School of Fine Arts instead.
“This is still really in the discussion state so right now it’s looking more like we will end up doing a School of Fine Arts but still could change,” Daffron said.
Daffron went on to explain that although the proposal could change, the proposal would most likely be finalized within a week.
Aside from forming a new school and the renovation of Potter Hall, the administration would also hire a new dean to facilitate the proposed changes. Daffron said the university would like to have the dean position filled by July 1, but realizes this is “an aggressive timeline.”
The new dean would help with fundraising events, writing grants, contacting benefactors, earmarking gifts, and assisting the administration to make the plan happen. The money appropriated will not only compensate for the new position but also fund the Potter renovation.
Potter Hall has needed renovation work for many years. The percussion annex was purchased approximately a decade ago, and was intended to be a temporary fix until funds for renovations were available, but with budget cuts from the state, Potter Hall renovations went unfunded.
Daffron explained that Missouri Western is “lean in administration.” The formation of the School of Fine Arts and reorganization of the LAS school would help even the dean to faculty ratio within the respective schools.
Of the approximately 200 faculty members at Western, LAS has 128 full and half-time faculty members. In comparison, the College of Professional Studies has 64 faculty members and the Craig School of Business currently has 18.
“Having a dean that is more focused on a narrower number of disciplines would lead to more interaction with students and faculty,” Daffron said.
Dr. Murray Nabors, dean of LAS agreed with Daffron that a dean focused on just fine arts would be an asset to the University.
Within LAS the Communication Studies, Theatre and Cinema department would tentatively be reorganized and the Theatre and Cinema majors would be moved to the School of Fine Arts.
“I think they recognized all along that LAS was pretty large and so for a workload standpoint as well as a balance standpoint that LAS was just too big,” said Bob Bergland, faculty senate president.
The dividing of LAS would result in approximately 104 faculty members and nine departments.