Letter to GWU Administration
Dear George Washington University,
As the students of the Corcoran College of Art + Design, we’ve seen our community hollowed out. Our faculty and staff, the lifeblood of this institution, are struggling to define their future purposes in the Corcoran as it moves beneath the umbrella of your institution and the National Gallery of Art. Our administration informs us that the Corcoran’s curricula, buildings and the very people that make up our school are at risk for termination – or already dismissed. The future students of the CCA+D may enter a school that in no way resembles our beloved family.
The most important aspect and promise of this institutional agreement is that we function as our own “academic unit within the university’s Columbian College of Art and Sciences.” But, with the recent news of our entire staff’s termination, the infrastructure and institutional memory of our school is being gutted, rendering that promise irrelevant.
Throughout this process, we have asked our own administration for a voice. We have made our desires in this merger clear. We have been polite in our requests for a seat at the table during the decision-making process. Now we are asking you directly.
Our appeals are simple and reasonable: keep your original promise. Let us keep the spirit of the Corcoran intact. We define that spirit as an extension of the Corcoran’s mission statement - Dedication to art and the encouragement of American genius occurs in our classrooms and galleries; it thrives as a result of our professors’ fostering our artistic abilities; it evolves as a result of interdepartmental collaboration; it is realized by our public exhibitions and our engagement with the global community.
We know and understand that things must change. We too can
envision our small college thriving within your university and becoming the 21st
century art school that you have spoken about. But your actions function as an
undermining of this very goal, and a destruction of everything that we have
already built over so many years. You don’t want this. You don’t want to start from scratch. You don’t
want a demoralized student body and faculty. We think, as the students who came
to this amazing arts school, that you would want all of the energy, the
knowledge and legacy to be the foundation of this new and exciting center of
We realize that concessions must be made but in order to retain any of the amazing qualities of our college we require, first and foremost, its people. We require the immediate rehiring of key staff and a commitment for the employment of our faculty matching their commitment at the Corcoran. We require stability for our community outreach programs, including NEXT, ArtReach, Gallery 31, and all existing student organizations. We require intimate settings in which to learn from our professors. We require our faculty’s autonomy to create and administer our curricula. And we require a commitment from you to come forth with a plan for a collaborative vision as to how will, together, build our 21st century art school.
Most importantly, these issues need to be addressed publicly and with the highest level of transparency. At all future discussions we need to have a meaningful presence and voice.
We ask for a consistent series of meetings scheduled with a representative student group and GWU representation, including Dean Ben Vinson.
The Corcoran Student Body