The College of Fine and Applied Arts is dedicated to the advancement, practice, and understanding of the arts. The central focus of the college is the synergy between research and the preparation of students for professional careers in the creation and interpretation of the environmental, visual, and performing arts. Deeply related to that focus is the commitment to elevate and sustain the study of the arts as both a necessary mode of understanding and a vibrant expression of human experience within the local, national, and international communities.
The mission is carried out through:
- A commitment to quality education and teaching excellence;
- The creation of visual art objects, music compositions and performances, theatrical productions, dance choreography and repertory, and cross-disciplinary performances;
- The design of sustainable architecture, landscapes, and plans that nurture communities and adhere to the highest professional standards;
- The pursuit and dissemination of knowledge through scholarship, research, application, and service; and
- The determination to balance the preservation of our artistic legacies with the desire for innovation within our artistic practices.
The college is an international leader for research and practice in the arts with an emphasis on professional excellence, diversity, innovation, and preservation.
Strategic Priorities and Goals for 2023-2028
To be followed by specific resourced actions with clear timelines at college and unit levels.
Education liberates through new opportunities for overcoming oppressive conditions, and through equipping us in the shared work of eliminating those conditions for all. Our college’s educational opportunities lend themselves well to this, rooted as they are in imagining other ways and worlds. With closing equity gaps a central pillar of the Illinois Board of Higher Education 2021 Strategic Plan, and the University of Illinois following their lead by increasing aid to students from historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups,   the college faces a unique opportunity to support the increase of freedom through education. We can do so by ensuring a common basis for success for all students – one that accounts for the disproportionate challenges faced by Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students in our context. We can also work to ensure that our college’s degrees present viable paths to economic advancement, and to vocations in service of a more equitable society. To this end, study in Fine and Applied Arts must be ever more relevant, supportable, accessible, and sustainable for students from marginalized and oppressed groups, and intentional in equipping all students in the work of equity and justice.
1. Ensure an equitable basis for success for students who face the additional challenges associated with study as a member of a racialized minority, a first-generation college student, or person with a disability, from recruitment and admission through enrollment and post-graduation employment.
2. Educate all students in the struggles for equity and justice associated with their disciplines, and the history of those who led in overcoming those struggles.
The university is charged by the State of Illinois “to enhance the lives of citizens in Illinois, across the nation and around the world through our leadership in learning, discovery, engagement and economic development.” Numerous efforts across the college regularly fulfill this mission in revelatory and expansive ways. Our college’s history also shows, however, how we have often served some communities and lives through the neglect or even exploitation of others. Our institution and our disciplines in turn have called for address of such inequities. The university’s strategic framework calls for application of research and creative endeavor to address of disparities across “health, education, economic opportunity, social justice, and civic participation,” as well as climate change, with a particular emphasis on arts and humanities research. Many of the college’s relevant professional disciplinary organizations have also renewed or refocused their missions in service of increasing equity and justice.   Through the Campus Compact coalition, this university’s leaders have committed us to “contributing to the health and strength of our communities—economically, socially, environmentally, educationally, and politically” and challenging “the prevailing social and economic inequalities that threaten our democratic future.”
3. Deepen the application of our research and creative expertise to the study and righting of historical inequities; grow expertise in the traditions and lifeways of the historically oppressed and disadvantaged.
We bring real and justifiable differences in our visions of a respectful and caring work environment. But without naming at least some shared norms, values, and goals in this area, we will default to unspoken patterns that dehumanize, exploit, and alienate. Thankfully, our disciplines and cultures offer a myriad of approaches to valuing people above the labor they bring to institutions, states, or systems. We can apply those approaches to the elimination of internal inequities with respect to workload, compensation, and contracting, and to anticipate and account for such inequities as they precede the college in its external systems and structures. We can develop ways to meet disrespectful, abusive, or discriminatory behavior towards others with accountability and opportunities for growth and repair. Full realization of our college’s most life-giving potential will require sober assessment of our current status in this regard, and clear, accountable action to enact change.
5. Create and maintain a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access plan that applies research-based analyses to identifying and acting on accountable steps toward abolition of inequity, injustice, ableism, sexism, anti-Blackness, and all forms of racism in the college.
6. Develop and apply a shared vision for respectful and caring treatment of persons in our classrooms, offices, studios, and other spaces; build opportunities for repair and action toward that vision into our daily practices and culture.