Trustees approve Tyler changes

The changes, which will unify the school, will take effect July 2019.

October 10, 2018

On Tuesday, October 9, Temple University’s Board of Trustees approved changes that will streamline and update the Tyler School of Art’s structure and expand the school’s name, effective with the 2019-20 academic year.

The changes, which are the result of a school-wide assessment and planning process to poise Tyler for the future, include the full integration of architecture and the built-environment disciplines within Tyler’s structure and identity and the realignment of Tyler’s arts programs to support cross-disciplinary studies and reflect current understanding of creative practice and research. To align with the restructuring and accurately represent Tyler’s breadth, the school’s name will be expanded to the Tyler School of Art and Architecture. The new name will be effective July 1, 2019.

“Tyler’s national reputation is built on the strength of our faculty, the accomplishments of our students and alumni and our distinctive place as part of a large, urban, public national research university,” said Tyler Dean Susan E. Cahan, who became Tyler’s dean in 2017.

“Institutions that are defined by excellence must evolve in order to serve their students and contribute to the growth of scholarship and creative practices,” Cahan said. “Our students deserve an academic experience that capitalizes on the exciting breadth of fields at Tyler by fostering cross-pollination within the arts and between the arts and the built-environment disciplines.”

Highlighting the structural changes at Tyler will be the creation of two newly configured departments, a Department of Art that will unite all of Tyler’s highly regarded studio art programs; and a Department of Architecture & Environmental Design that will bring together all of Tyler’s excellent programs in built-environment design. These new departments will complement Tyler’s departments of Art History, Art Education & Community Arts Practices, Graphic & Interactive Design and Foundations.

“This new structure, when combined with our outstanding facilities, our curricula and the arrival of the largest cohort of new faculty hires in the school’s history, will improve the Tyler experience for generations of students to come,” Cahan said.

The reasoning behind expanding the school’s name to the Tyler School of Art and Architecture—the subject of discussions at Tyler as early as 2003—is built on three pillars, Cahan says. The name is authentic because it renders visible built-environment disciplines that have been part of Tyler for decades. Architecture at Temple has been part of Tyler since 1998, and Landscape Architecture & Horticulture and Planning & Community Development joined in 2016, unifying all Temple programs in built-environment design. The expanded name also captures the breadth of Tyler’s academic offerings and the school’s renewed emphasis on cross-disciplinary studies, an approach to education that equips students to be nimble, critical thinkers—an attribute valued by prospective students and employers alike.

To assess how the Tyler alumni community would feel about an expansion of the name, Tyler administrators interviewed dozens of alumni representing a wide range of ages, disciplines, degree types and professional outcomes. “Nearly three-quarters of the alumni we surveyed told us that they favored adding ‘Architecture’ to our name,” Cahan said. “The intensity and breadth of that support helped us understand that, 15 years after the proposal was first discussed by the Tyler community, the moment was right.” Alumni queried about the expansion of the Tyler name stated:

  • “Architecture is a word that has nothing but positive connotations....I think it elevates the Tyler School of Art.”
  • “My feeling is that it makes [the school] look and feel bigger. Tyler already has a good national reputation, and [this] positions it in a much bigger way.”
  • “I love the notion of changing the name—expanding the name—to be more inclusive.”
  • “For many of us, our profession is associated with ‘making’—construction, design, fabrication, cabinetmaking, metalworkers, artisans who create products for retail, people who mount shows, conservation, restoration, even art history. These people might be better served by adding architecture to Tyler’s name….I think it increases the value of my degree.”
Text: Hillel J. Hoffmann