Advancing Human Creativity
University of the Arts’ mission is simple: to advance human creativity. UArts believes creativity is the most essential skill for success in today’s society and has educated generations of groundbreaking artists, performers, designers and creative leaders for more than 141 years.
After being granted university status in 1987, University of the Arts became the largest institution of its kind in the nation, offering programs in design, fine arts, media arts, crafts, music, dance, theater and writing. It now features 30 undergraduate arts majors, 15 graduate programs and the nation’s first PhD program in Creativity.
Dear students, faculty and staff,
I write to you today with an important update regarding our plan for opening this fall. Over the past two weeks, our world has continued to change as the virus proceeds to wreak havoc across the country and the globe. Cases in the U.S. have continued to rise. State and local guidance has changed. Personal and collective responsibility at every level continues to be debated. We too have continually evaluated and re-evaluated our position as an arts university in the heart of a major city, and the role we will play in the pandemic.
Though we just released the details of our Fall 2020 Opening Plan on July 13, it has become clear there is no way to host a sustained in-person semester that maintains the quality of the educational experience without compromising our values and our number one priority: the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.
With this in mind, University of the Arts will begin the 2020-2021 academic year with a fully remote fall semester, with all courses beginning Monday, Aug. 31. This decision has been made by the University’s President’s Council (senior staff and academic deans), together with overwhelming support from faculty and the unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees.
This decision has not been made lightly. As a community of creatives, our modes of practice draw us toward one another and toward our studios, rehearsal spaces and stages. We know our entire community wants nothing more than to return to campus. Indeed, faculty and staff have spent hundreds of hours over the past months researching, planning and debating how to inhabit our physical campus safely in light of the continued rise in viral cases throughout the nation, and how we might manage the limits utilizing social distancing, mask wearing and capacity maximums. Yet the continued changes to official guidance and the uncertainties regarding the timing of an effective treatment or vaccine presented our community with risks we are unwilling to take with the lives of our students, faculty and staff.
We also know that we cannot wait for the decisions and policies of our governing agencies. We know the nuances of our creative work and of embodied practices—how we sing, perform, dance, dream, design and make. And we understand how our practices may be uniquely compromised and/or made unsafe by the circumstances COVID has created—both in person and in a remote fashion. Earlier this week, I met with the faculty from each school. We shared in the recognition that current circumstances leave us with no perfect choices. Each scenario presents its own combination of both health and financial risks. In turn, each school held their own faculty meetings to discuss the options presented to us as an institution and report their collective sentiment or vote back to their respective dean. The overwhelming majority of our faculty recognized that proceeding with our Fall 2020 Opening Plan presented grave risks to the physical wellbeing of our community and voted for a fully remote fall semester, which in turn was fully supported by all members of President’s Council.
As an institution, we recognize this choice may have serious financial implications, but above all, we as a community must return to our core values. As I stated in March, our mission of advancing human creativity can only be pursued when our community of students, faculty and staff are healthy, safe and thriving. To jeopardize the physical wellbeing of our UArts and broader community is a risk University of the Arts will not take.
For fall 2020, we will move forward as a creative community bound not by a physical campus, but by a shared value. We understand that with this change many questions arise. With that in mind, the following actions will be implemented for the fall semester.
Academic Calendar Adjustments
In light of a fully remote semester, we will revert back to our original academic calendar. All courses will begin on Monday, Aug. 31. New Student Orientation will begin the week of Aug. 24. The semester will conclude on Dec. 18. Thanksgiving break will be observed Wednesday, Nov. 25 – Friday, Nov. 27.
Advising & Registration
Detailed information concerning advising and registration will soon be sent by the Office of the Registrar. New registration for the fall semester is currently closed, but will reopen after fall course sections have been updated to reflect the transition to remote delivery. Registration appointment times will be assigned to support registration priority based on major and class level. Incoming students will be contacted by the advising center to schedule one-on-one advising meetings. Returning students are encouraged to schedule an appointment with their advisor, who will work with students to ensure they maintain degree progress and can help finalize their fall schedule.
We acknowledge the financial strain that the global pandemic has placed on our students and their families. Though the University’s cost of instruction and operations will not decline and our revenue will decrease, the Board of Trustees has unanimously voted to reverse the previously approved tuition increase and freeze tuition at the 2019–2020 level for the fall semester. This will result in a tuition reduction for all students. All student accounts will be reviewed and students will receive an adjusted billing statement by Friday, July 31. In light of the new changes for the fall semester, the deadline for billing will be extended until Monday, Aug. 10. Any student who has already paid their bill will receive a credit which may be requested as a refund if no outstanding balances are due.
Residential Students & Meal Plans
In efforts to reduce the spread of COVID, University housing will remain closed for the fall semester. No students will be permitted to reside on campus. Any student who has already paid for housing for the fall semester will be issued a full refund. As campus will be closed to all students for the fall semester, dining facilities will not be in service. Any student who has paid for a meal plan for the fall semester will receive a refund.
In addition, you may be wondering how this change will impact your experience within each school. Below we have provided links to pages that include letters from each school. More detailed program information will be added next week from the directors of specific programs.
Looking ahead, please know our planning continues. Updates will be made frequently and we encourage all students, faculty and staff to check their emails regularly as well as bookmark uarts.edu/fall2020. Families are encouraged to register for the Generations newsletter to receive public updates.
To all our UArts alumni and friends, what a year!
All of us have seen life transform before our eyes. At UArts, we’ve been privileged to witness how the creative spirit is thriving through these transitions. We are proud to share with you our first-ever online edition of Edge: The Magazine of University of the Arts, which can be downloaded as a PDF below.
Select stories are also available at edge.uarts.edu. In this issue, President David Yager reflects on the opportunities this year has presented. Additionally, we show how we are living apart, but creating together, and pay tribute to the generous alumni and donors that share our belief that creativity is not only essential for success, but also the catalyst for change.
The short documentary Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa, co-directed by University of the Arts Film Program Director and Assistant Professor Mike Attie along with Barabara Attie and Janet Goldwater, is included on the shortlist for various upcoming documentary film awards.
The film, which follows the work of the Philadelphia abortion hotline phone counselors, is among 15 others eligible to be nominated for the Best Shorts category for the 36th annual International Documentary Association (IDA) awards. The IDA Documentary Awards ceremony—which will be held virtually in January 2021—is notable for being the “world’s most prestigious event dedicated to the documentary genre, celebrating the best nonfiction films and programs of the year,” according to the IDA website. The site also indicates that the IDA “seeks to represent excellence in the documentary field from around the world, by emerging and established documentarians.” The final list of 10 nominees will be announced on Nov. 24.
Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa was also included on the recently released DOC NYC Short List. The 12 films included will be reviewed by a jury and one will be selected for a Directing Award. In addition, this list serves as the festival’s prediction for what might be shortlisted for the Academy Awards. According to IndieWire, “Historically, most of the DOC NYC short-list titles overlap with the Academy’s official 15-film Oscar Short List.”
In reaction to these announcements, Mike Attie commented, “Of course it's very exciting to be included on these lists. We never really considered the awards potential for Abortion Helpline—it's not what you think about when making a film like this—but clearly it is striking a nerve with audiences and programmers.”
These are just the most recent accolades among many that the project has received since its debut in 2019. Previously, the film was chosen from among 9,000 submissions to be screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival; was an official selection of the 2019 Philadelphia Film Festival as well as the 2020 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival; and won the Grand Jury Prize for Short Films at the AFI DOCS Film Festival, a major nonfiction film festival in the U.S.
All of this continued momentum serves to support the ultimate goals of the film: to raise awareness about the negative impact of discriminatory policies surrounding abortion—notably, the Hyde Amendment—and highlight the need for reproductive justice.
News & Events
Conceived by Carrie Mae Weems and Pierre Loving, Resist Covid Take 6! aims to create an artist-driven public awareness campaign to educate and enlighten Black, Latinx and Native American communities about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives.
UArts is the exclusive presenter of Weems’ project in Philadelphia, where billboards, creative messaging and public art has been installed around Center City to highlight the virus’ staggering death toll. Phase 1 of the project at UArts is generously supported by the Jessica Hamilton Hardy Visiting Artist Fund.
University of the Arts and Thomas Jefferson University announced on July 16, 2020, that they will be partnering on new course offerings for undergraduate students this fall. Leadership at both institutions came to an agreement, in order to further their creativity-focused curricula, that undergraduate students from either university will be able to take select courses at the other institution at no additional cost.
In a post-pandemic world, I believe that creativity will be the most essential skill our students need for success and that life as we know it will be shaped and defined by it.
-UArts President and CEO David Yager
Throughout its more than 140-year history, UArts has educated generations of groundbreaking artists, performers, designers and creative leaders; in 2018, it became the first university in the U.S. to offer a PhD in Creativity. Just this year, Jefferson announced a creativity core curriculum for undergraduates, teaching the human skills of empathy, creativity, design thinking and compassion.
“In a post-pandemic world, I believe that creativity will be the most essential skill our students need for success and that life as we know it will be shaped and defined by it,” said David Yager, President and CEO of University of the Arts. “Those who employ it will challenge entrenched assumptions and conventions, seek and establish the meaning of chaos, loss and tragedy—of which our times have delivered more than their share—and demonstrate the resilience gained through the trait which makes us human: creativity. We could not be more pleased to expand our partnership with Jefferson in meaningful ways that demonstrate the relevance creativity holds for all disciplines.”
“In University of the Arts, we have an academic partner aligned with our belief that cultivating creativity in students is vital to impactful 21st century education,” said Mark L. Tykocinski, MD, executive vice president of academic affairs and provost of Thomas Jefferson University.
This is not the first or only collaboration between the two institutions. Jefferson has agreed to serve as an advisor to UArts on health protocols related to a safe reopening of the Center City Philadelphia campus, in addition to a longstanding partnership with Jefferson’s Department of Family and Community Medicine for primary care services for UArts students.
“This partnership will not only allow for unique curricular experiences for our students, but will accelerate the ways in which our communities are able to share knowledge and ideas for future collaborations,” said Carol Graney, vice president for academic affairs at UArts.
UArts and Jefferson hope that this partnership will also foster a deeper level of collaboration among faculty members. The institutions recently collaborated on a joint research proposal for the use of virtual reality modeling to identify and improve design flaws associated with physician burnout in academic Emergency Department settings, based in Jefferson’s Emergency Medicine department and Health Design Lab, and leveraging UArts’ new Center for Immersive Media.
“I believe that once we take down the walls between our institutions, our students and faculty will find a hundred new ways to collaborate,” said Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, president of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health. “The future of higher education, and indeed of professional work, depends on the freedom to work across traditional disciplines, indeed to redefine what's possible.”
The expansion of these unique collaborations is bringing transdisciplinary study to the forefront in Philadelphia. Exploring the intersections among art, science and the human experience will not only benefit student artists and students of medicine and science, but also the communities which they serve.
Kym Moore, an innovative and imaginative leader, theater-maker and scholar who continues to demonstrate the interconnected power of creative disciplines to impact and shape our reality, will join University of the Arts as dean of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts. Moore brings a passion and conviction that inspires joy, unity and drive within the artists, makers and creatives fortunate enough to work with her. Moore’s appointment will begin in January 2021 and concludes a nine-month national search for the future leader of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts, which began in fall 2019.
Currently, Moore serves as full professor and director of undergraduate studies in Brown University’s Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, where she has taught for more than a decade. As an educator, theater-maker and producer, she directs, devises and writes works that utilize the unique materials of theater to examine the multiple dimensions of human existence and seek to cultivate a “culture worth living in.” She is the co-founder/co-artistic director of the Antigravity Performance Project, which was founded in 2012 to challenge the boundaries of theatrical convention and forge new frontiers in performance-making. Moore and her collaborators recently completed their second residency at the Yale Center for Collaborative Arts and Media toward the creation of a transmedia performance installation, Do Eye Know You? which they plan to premiere in Philadelphia next season. As a director and producer, Moore has received numerous awards together with her collaborators, including the Salomon Award (Time’s Up!), the Pen and Brush Playwriting Award (The Date) and two Dorry Awards for Best Direction and Production of a Play (The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry).
“We set out to find a truly imaginative and future-focused leader who gets the relevance of art and creativity today, and how it can change our world,” says UArts President and CEO David Yager. “In Kym we have found that leader, and she also defies the boundaries between disciplines. She understands what creatives bring to our society and knows how we must prepare—the work we must lead—to be relevant and reflective of the world we live in. To say we are pleased to welcome Kym to UArts is a great understatement. I can say with confidence, and together with the Office of the Provost and the entire search committee, from her very first on-campus visit back in March, we all feel as though we are welcoming Kym home.”
“The thought of working collaboratively across disciplines to ‘advance human creativity’ is
beyond my wildest expectations!” says Moore. “Centering the arts as a primary contributor to the development of society has been my mission as an artist and educator from the very start. To find an institution filled with faculty, students, staff and administrators that share the mission is surely a dream come true. I’m thrilled to be coming ‘home’ to a place I didn’t know existed beyond that dream state.”
Throughout her career, Moore has taught acting and directing nationally and internationally at Swarthmore College, Hampshire College, SUNY Purchase, Sarah Lawrence College, Notre Dame University, Indiana State University, the Juilliard School, Carnegie Mellon University, the SIBIU International Theater Festival (Romania), and the Belgrade Theatre (UK), among many other organizations. Her course Acting Outside the Box: Considering Race, Class, Gender & Sexuality in Performance has also been taught nationally and internationally, including at the National Theater Institute/Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, NYU Graduate Acting, University of Oklahoma/Norman, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Columbia University and the Juilliard School. Moore is a graduate of the State University of New York New Paltz (BA) and University of Massachusetts Amherst (MFA). She is an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, and a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab and the National Alliance of Acting Teachers.
Moore will assume leadership of University of the Arts’ theater programs, originally founded by Walter Dallas in 1983 and which became known as the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts in 2009. The school comprises four undergraduate degree programs and two graduate programs in partnership with Pig Iron Theater Company. The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts is one of seven schools at University of the Arts that span art, dance, design, film, music and theater.
Moore will succeed current Dean David Howey, who has announced his retirement after 24 years of outstanding service to University of the Arts as a faculty member, program head and dean. Moore’s appointment concludes a nine-month-long search process, charged by the Office of the Provost and led by a search committee comprising a truly interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff.
The University of the Arts’ Makerspace is a digital and traditional fabrication studio that is a major opportunity for the entire UArts community.
#uartist is a celebration of the boundless creativity of the UArts community. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are welcome to share their work with us via Instagram by including #uartist.
Calendar of Events
See upcoming events in UArts galleries, performance spaces and around campus in Philadelphia.