UAFS Art Department Rated ‘Good Value’
The Art Department at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith has been designated one of the 100 Great Affordable Colleges for Art in 2021.
Great Affordable Colleges, which ranks UAFS at 51 on its list, described the university as "one of the most affordable colleges in our ranking."
Katie Waugh, head of the Art Department and associate professor at UAFS, sees this ranking as validation of the education students receive.
"This is a recognition that they can have relatively easy access to a great art education," Waugh said. "They can plan their futures as artists or designers knowing that their costs have been kept to a minimum while their education has been excellent, unique, and tailored to them."
The 17 to one ratio of students to faculty may be key to students' unique experiences.
"We have universally passionate faculty who are unwaveringly committed to providing the best learning experience they can provide," Waugh said.
She pointed to the faculty's "absolutely above and beyond" efforts to provide the best learning environment possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We know each student's talents, experiences, and goals, and we are deeply invested in their successes. We also have stunningly good facilities. The Windgate Art and Design building features state-of-the-art resources for students, including unique resources like the Chauncey A. Lick Letterpress Studio," Waugh said.
Despite the traditional stereotype of the starving artist, art education can prepare a student for a good career path and a chance to influence society positively.
A good-value education means students from various backgrounds can be engaged as "the culture-producers, the image-makers, the interpreters of the human story," she said. "This is crucial for society."
Obtaining an art education can prepare students for a variety of careers," Waugh said. "Successful artists and designers are diligent, hard-working problem solvers."
Students who complete the degree are "hustlers": They have self-discipline, tenacity, and an ability to get things done.
"Artists and designers are also trained to be intensely self-reflective, so they are quite prepared to evaluate their own work, to understand the necessity of taking feedback, and how to move towards improvement," Waugh said.
She urged everyone who has a creative bent – even if they think they can't draw – to reconsider their futures.
"If you can lose yourself in thinking about how to alter, design, create, or make something, chances are you could be really happy pursuing an art degree," she said.
The UAFS art program was accredited in 2017 by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design. The university offers two four-year degrees, a bachelor's of studio art and a bachelor's of graphic design, and an art history minor. UAFS is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award undergraduate degrees in art.