Drawing on its reputation
By JUDY SHERARD
Recruiting efforts are paying off for the Fort Hays State University Department of Art and Design.
The name was changed a few years ago to be more representative and descriptive of the department, said Leland Powers, department chairman.
Twelve faculty members teach in a number of disciplines -- ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, graphic design and others.
With between 250 and 299 art and design majors, it is one of the largest departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, he said.
Besides bachelor's and master's degrees, the department offers a master of fine arts degree, the only terminal degree offered at FHSU.
"We always considered recruiting new students a strong priority," he said. "It looks like we will have a record enrollment of those beginning the program for the first time."
Powers is pleased with the pre-enrollment numbers, but the real test is based on how many students are enrolled on the 20th day of classes.
There are "so many variables that have an effect on enrollment. ... It makes it a challenge and very frustrating at times."
However, it's important to grow the program, and as department chairman, Powers takes the lead in recruitment.
The department participates in university recruiting events such as student recognition programs in other communities,
One of the most important aspects of the outreach program is "family members get to see (prospective students) standing up in front of the group beside the president of the university accepting their scholarship," Powers said.
The department also recruits through high school teachers, many of whom are FHSU graduates.
"They had a great experience here (and) now are working and consider us to be colleagues."
Powers and other faculty members also visit schools where they lead art activities or judge events.
The department also hosts a high school art exhibition each spring. Attendance varies mostly because of the economy, but as many as 80 schools have participated.
"It's a great tribute in these tough times," he said. "We feel fortunate that they value art, and let their teachers come ... and bring artwork."
The faculty teaching load is four classes or 12 credit hours. Most FHSU three-credit-hour classes meet for one hour three times a week or 1.5 hours twice a week, but many art courses are twice that long.
"For faculty members, you're constantly involved with your students, with their production and the processes, the technical side of it as well as all the other aspects of the discipline," Powers said. "I love longer class periods because you have more time to work. (You're) not just getting set up and it's time to clean up."
In most cases each faculty member has a studio, which prospective students tour when they make individual visits.
"Students and (their) families appreciate that personal contact," Powers said. "It takes a lot of time. (The admissions office) brings us a lot of students, but I feel it's another aspect of maintaining the good things we've achieved."
The goal is for students to leave FHSU with something of value.
"You don't just acquire a set of skills, you better be able to grow and keep learning," Powers said.