Faculty votes unanimously to merge dance program with theater arts

Theater arts faculty members and two tenure track dance professors voted to move the dance program out of the School of Music and Dance and into the theater arts department Monday, commencing the first step to official University approval.

The program’s move was approved in an overwhelming 18-0 vote, according to Interim Chair of theater arts Rhonnie Washington.

“We have been collaborating with dance for years,” Washington said.  “We invited dance to join with theatre arts several years ago when the dance department was looking for shelter in a larger department. They elected to go with music.”

The idea to merge dance with theater arts began a few months ago when the School of Music and Dance expressed interest in expanding their orchestra and wind faculty, as well as their recording program, but not in expanding the dance program, according to interim dean for the College of Liberal and Creative Arts Daniel Bernardi.

The two programs got together in mid-September to consider the idea, which resulted in a proposal to merge them into one department, Washington said.

With the dance program in the theater arts department, Bernardi said the dance program would have a better chance of developing and would be a better fit for the theatre arts department.

“(It’s) one step toward our plan to grow dance,” Bernardi said.

With the faculty’s approval, the process of moving the program to the theater arts department now seeks approval from senior leadership which includes the Academic Council, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Sue Rosser and President Leslie E. Wong, though no date for the vote has been set.

Washington said all degree programs would continue if the merger takes place, which would be implemented beginning the Fall 2015 semester if approved.

The vote comes in the midst of University plans to consolidate the LCA. Earlier this semester, Xpress reported that the dance studio in the Fine Arts Building would be altered to make room for the University Museum, leaving dance students with only one space to practice in the Gymnasium.

“There are other moves in LCA like this,” Bernardi said.  “Lots of good stuff.”