Mission, Vision and Values


The Tyler School of Art educates and inspires students to be active participants in society with the highest aspirations for creative and social achievement, individual expression, scholarly discovery, and innovation.



Learning at Tyler is a profoundly transformative process in which students exceed their own expectations as creators, scholars, educators, and active citizens. Tyler prepares students to make valuable contributions in a range of fields through the strength of their creative and technical skills, their ability to visualize solutions to problems, and their personal vision informed by social and civic responsibility.


Who we are

We are a community of makers and thinkers from many practices, cultures and backgrounds inspired and connected by the shared experience of transformative learning. We are part of a large, urban, public research university where students and faculty engage with the world’s most pressing and complex issues. Our students learn how to be leaders prepared to navigate the opportunities and challenges of local and global societies as artists, designers, educators, scholars, organizational leaders and in newly emerging occupations.


Our core values

  • Equity and inclusivity. We understand diversity as a strength and are committed to challenging prejudice and inequality within our school and in society at large.
  • Accessibility. We create opportunity that includes those who otherwise would not consider art, education, and design as career paths.
  • Public engagement. We believe creative practice plays a critical role in addressing the collective concerns of our city and our global environment. Education must actively engage with relevant cultural and ethical issues.
  • Exploration. We encourage curiosity, divergent thinking, and multiple approaches to problem-solving. We seek to understand and play a part in the ongoing global evolution of the roles of creators and scholars.

How we teach and learn

  • Students develop sophisticated practical skills, using both state of the art equipment and traditional materials, and learn how to navigate multiple public and private-sector worlds without sacrificing individual creativity.
  • The Tyler experience integrates research and production with professional practice and civic engagement, collectively and individually, through field work, internships, service learning projects, and entrepreneurial activities. We draw on our home city of Philadelphia for rich, accessible cultural and historical resources, and offer unique opportunities for meaningful engagement with important urban issues.
  • Undergraduates explore a breadth of experiences, media, and technologies that provides a foundation for intensive study within a chosen discipline. Graduate students have access to a unique array of physical and intellectual resources within and beyond their chosen fields of study. All students explore the histories and theories of their disciplines and a wide spectrum of material, theoretical, technological, and aesthetic approaches.
  • Students and professors work side-by-side on projects and research with historical, aesthetic, environmental, and social impact. Through their own work, faculty members demonstrate how creative practice and scholarship is process-oriented and research-based.


Stella Elkins Tyler donated her estate in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, to Temple University in the early 1930s. With an interest in progressive education and a deep appreciation of her mentor, the sculptor Boris Blai, Tyler offered her estate with the expressed wish that, through Boris Blai, it would become an environment for the advancement of the fine arts, scholarly study in the arts and individual creativity.

As founding dean of the Tyler School of Art, Blai instilled the school with a commitment to progressive education emphasizing the student's mastery of technique within the framework of a liberal arts curriculum. Dean Blai insisted upon individual attention to each student's needs as the basis of successful teaching. During his 25-year tenure Dean Blai shaped the school into one of the finest visual arts centers in the country, and his founding ideals still remain paramount to Tyler's educational philosophy.

In 1960, Dean Charles Le Clair succeeded Blai. During this period the Tyler campus was improved with construction of a residence hall and two studio/classroom buildings. In 1966, Le Clair founded the Tyler Study Abroad program in Rome, Italy. Tyler's programs at Temple University Rome remain among the most respected fine arts study abroad programs in Europe today. Temple University Rome has expanded to include a full range of liberal arts, architecture, business and law courses with an emphasis on those relating to Rome, Italy and Europe.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Tyler's curriculum continued to grow in response to new definitions of art-making and the role of art in society. New programs and modern facilities in design, ceramics, glass, metals and photography were added. During this time, Tyler developed the Art and Art Education Department and the Art History Department on Temple's Main Campus.

The pace of positive change and growth began to accelerate dramatically in the late 1990s. In 1998, Tyler welcomed Temple’s Department of Architecture. In 2009, Tyler moved from Elkins Park into a new, 250,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building at Temple’s Main Campus in Philadelphia. Only three years later, Architecture moved into a new 50,000-square-foot facility connected to the new Tyler building. In 2016, Temple’s departments of Landscape Architecture & Horticulture and Planning & Community Development became part of Tyler, for the first time unifying all of the built-environment disciplines at Temple in one academic unit. Then, in 2017, the Tyler School of Art welcomed Susan E. Cahan, who came from Yale University to become Tyler’s first permanent dean since the school moved into its new building in 2009.