COLLEGE of FINE and PERFORMING ARTS
Analysis of the Arts at Western
Strengths, Challenges, Opportunities and Threats
Internal Assessment – Strengths and Opportunities.
The Arts are Critical to the University’s Vision and Mission
The university’s high aspirations cannot be attained without a viable program in the arts.
WWU Vision Statement: Western Washington University will become the premier public
comprehensive university in the country through engaged excellence.
WWU Mission Statement. The Western Experience: Western Washington University is committed to
engaged excellence in fulfilling its tripartite mission of teaching, scholarship, and community service
in a student-centered environment, with a liberal arts foundation and opportunities to develop
“Creativity” and “creative work” are extolled throughout the extended university and college
CFPA Mission Statement. The College provides for an educational environment enhancing the
creation, development, performance, and teaching of the fine and performing arts. Within this
environment the College provides for its academic majors while also offering a full spectrum of arts
experiences and courses to the general student body.
The goals of the College are consistent with the time-honored aims of higher education and the
notion of the “good” society:
(1) to promote civic engagement through the Arts;
(2) to provide engaged learning in the Arts;
(3) to support liberal education and professional development associated with the Arts; and,
(4) to foster excellence, diversity, and opportunity in and through the Arts.
Reputation and Quality Learning Opportunities:
Western’s undergraduate Art degree programs have the highest enrollment in the state.
Art enrolls roughly 1,100 students per quarter; 400 of these students are majors.
Currently Art provides for 2100 seats in art classes for non-majors per year with preferential
access to Fairhaven College and Industrial Design students.
More than 300 students applied to fill the Art department’s 120 openings for fall 2009.
Western is the only one of nine public institutions in the state, which offers a BFA or BM in
all arts areas. (The BFA in Theatre Arts is in development)
Western is one of two public institutions in the state offering a BFA in Graphic Design.
Western will be the only public institution in the state to offer a BFA in Theatre Arts
The fledgling Dance program has quadrupled in size in three years.
Dance will offer nearly 1000 student credit hours in GURs this year and is unique in offering
an on-line course.
Dance offers the only BFA in Washington (at a public university) and is one of only two to offer a
Teaching Endorsement. The only other BFA in Dance offered in this state is at a private
Western’s professional degree programs are strongly grounded in the principles of liberal
education. Thus, it remains important that CFPA majors have access to courses in
other academic disciplines within the university.
Top non-CFPA students often choose Western because of the opportunity to also continue
training and performing in arts disciplines.
Western has illustrious graduates currently performing and exhibiting around the country.
Three former opera students have been selected to perform in NY’s Metropolitan Opera.
Two graduates of Theatre Arts are top film art designers in Hollywood.
Western students have garnered awards in competition at the Kennedy Center, in Washington
D.C., and its various music ensembles and theatre productions have been selected for
appearances at numerous state and regional events.
Western is a leader state wide in the development of curriculum in the area of “New Media”.
Western is home to the finest outdoor sculpture collection on any college or university
campus west of the Mississippi River.
The College of Fine and Performing Arts has been chosen as the summer home for both the
Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra (Marrowstone) and the Bellingham Festival of
Engaged Excellence reflects current practices within the college. The fine and performing
arts afford powerful opportunities for student engagement:
o Participation in theatre productions as actors and technicians;
o Art exhibits in the President’s and Provost’s Office suites;
o Professional portfolio reviews for graduating students in graphic design;
o Outreach performances in the public schools;
o A student operated art gallery;
o Quarterly dance and choreography recitals;
o 1-1 grant-funded work with nationally recognized choreographers;
o 1-1 music studio lessons with professionally recognized Music faculty;
o Participation in master classes with visiting artists;
o Enrollment in small studio classes in art, dance, and music;
o Participation in music ensemble groups that perform throughout the Northwest.
External Assessment – Strengths and Opportunities.
Niche: Our Differential Advantage
In today’s environment of limited resources and greater competition for students, it is
critically important that Western shape its niche within the State higher education system so
as to serve the citizenry without unnecessarily duplicating the academic offerings of peer
institutions. There are several ways to interpret our preferred niche; one is in relation to
the academic programs offered by the state’s four-year institutions, particularly those in the
central and northern Puget Sound regions. The following charts show the programmatic
themes at the State’s existing and proposed regional institutions as well as the programs in
the fine and performing arts at the State’s two research institutions. It clearly shows
Western as having a unique niche in the fine and performing arts.
Majors at UW and WSU Branch Campus Sites
UW Bothell UW Tacoma WSU Tri-C WSU Van
Business X X X X
Computer Sci X X X
Digital Tech X X
Education X X X X
English X X
Environmental Sci. X X
Human Dev X
Humanities X X
Interdisc A & S X X
Mech Engineering X X
Nursing X X X X
Psychology X X
Public Affairs X
Social Science X X
Social Work X X
Urban Studies X
UW and WSU branch university campuses plan to emphasize majors in business, education, and
nursing, three of the four offer majors in computer science, and two offer majors in digital
technology, environmental science, interdisciplinary humanities, English, psychology, and social
science. Not one of the State’s new regional public institutions offers a degree program in any of the
BFA and BM Degrees Offered -- Western is the only one of nine public institutions in the
state to offer a BFA and BM in all arts areas. (The Theatre BFA is in process).
WWU UW S WSU P UW B UW T WSU TC WSU V CWU EWU
Art Design X X
Art Studio X X X X
Music X X X X X
Theatre Arts X
CFPA has one of the strongest donor bases of endowment giving in the university. Prior to the
economic downturn, the college and its departments were able to award $168, 015 in endowment-
based scholarship funding. This year that number has dropped 67%.
The college is recognized as the community’s ”window on Western”, providing the strongest
interface between the community and the university. This year a new Community Advisory Board
was formed to enhance this relationship.
Effective arts outreach on campus and in the communities of Northwest Washington.
Summer home to Marrowstone (Seattle Youth Symphony) and Bellingham Festival of
MOTley Crew multicultural outreach performance group;
DanceMakers elementary school outreach program;
Sanford Piano Series;
Western Gallery visits;
Outdoor Sculpture Collection tours;
School outreach matinees - More than 1,700 elementary school students from 16 county
schools attend CFPA-sponsored events each year.
Renewed community interest in a performance venue on the waterfront.
Internal Assessment – Challenges and Threats.
Studio Course Costs
Low enrollment limits in lesson and studio courses in Art, Music, and Dance place these units
among the most costly academic programs in terms of cost-per-student.
(Non-computer) Equipment Intensive
Academic programs are equipment intensive. The current university model for equipment
funding is neither sufficient to meet our needs nor supportive of the type of equipment needed.
Facility Displacement and Infrastructure
Academic facilities are scattered across Bellingham. A proposed capital project, targeted at
renovation of the Armory, has risen quickly to the top of the university’s priorities, but if this
project isn’t funded, the active presence of a campus arts community will remain limited. In
addition, on-campus arts facilities have been ranked as three of the worst seven buildings on
campus in a recent study and numerous comments are appearing in student exit surveys regarding
the poor status of facilities and the lack technology relevant to the professional field.
Time to Degree
Along with the College of Science and Technology, CFPA transfer majors have the university’s
longest year-to-degree rate (2.9) and, along with Woodring College, the university’s longest year-
to-degree rate for freshmen (4.6). It takes an undergraduate CFPA major longer to complete a
degree program than in any other college in the university.
External Assessment – Challenges and Threats.
Access to Non-Majors and Non-Minors
To support liberal education, it is important that non-majors have access to GER/GUR courses
and other courses in CFPA’s departments and programs. As it stands, because of space and other
resource constraints, most courses in CFPA’s departments fill with department majors and pre-
majors, leaving little room for students from other areas of campus. This unfortunate
circumstance hampers the campus environment for liberal education and limits opportunities in
the arts for non-majors and non-minors.
Impact of Economic Turndown
College scholarships funded by donors have declined to a few thousand dollars with most
endowments underwater this year. The college is actively seeking ways to bridge the scholarship
shortfall with donations targeting these accounts and moving limited resources from other areas.
High demand Funding Model
The state’s High Demand funding model does not work in the fine and performing arts sector.
Specific high demand jobs in the fine and performing arts are difficult to gauge, yet it is
impossible to imagine attractive, livable communities without a strong arts presence. This is
equally true within Western’s residential learning community. Yet, we strive to improve our
internship opportunities with professional companies and work to help students find their first
position following graduation.
Access to campus and event parking
Though some changes have helped ease this situation slightly, there still exists a significant access
to campus issue for patrons at any arts event. Discussions with community members and arts
patrons reveal that parking is the number one concern and deterrent in attending arts events.
Existing national accreditation in each area, or the ability to attain this recognition, is in jeopardy
due to poor facilities, inadequate faculty and staff positions and reduced funding.
Technology and Equipment
The arts have become a high tech discipline in many areas. Computer control and scenic
automation technology, digitized art, sound and design applications, automated lighting
equipment and advanced research in many related fields have become an expectation for
students and faculty in deciding where to go to school and work. Professional work in many areas
requires that graduates have a working knowledge of such technology. Funding for the acquisition
and maintenance of this technology and the associated software applications is essential if the arts
at Western are to be competitive with peer institutions and to be a destination for students looking
for these skills.