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Response to Dr. Suzanne Crosta’s memorandum (p. 1215) from the Undergraduate Planning Committee Agenda for March 17 th 2010



Undergraduate Council accordingly now recommends the closure of the Art History programs for approval by the University Planning Committee.(UPC Agenda, p. 10)

We request that UPC review our document, The Case for the Preservation of Art History,presented to Undergraduate Council prior to its meeting on February 23 rd 2010, and reject the above recommendation in its current form because of serious errors, irregularities, and defects which we outline below.




Dr. Suzanne Crosta: “The program has been under strain for several years. Consistently low and declining enrolment has been a challenge. A limited faculty complement has been stretched to its limits dealing with both its own work and increasing demands in new and emerging areas of the Humanities.” (UPC Agenda, p. 12)

1a) Despite negative impressions from the administration, Art History enrolment is healthy. It does not have “consistently low and declining enrolment.” Moreover, its current enrolment is comparable to at least one other program in Humanities for the 200910 academic year. Please click for Full Time and Part Time Humanities enrolment numbers.

“Stretched to its limits” describes every department in Humanities over many years.

1b) In her proposal and statements, Dr. Suzanne Crosta consistently ignored one faculty member in Art History and misstated its faculty complement as about 30% lower than it is. As Dean and Associate Dean, she has consistently chosen not to provide Art History with resources other programs have or to advocate for them.

1c) None of McMaster’s academic priorities are mentioned. Dr. Suzanne Crosta merely describes her plan as a McMaster priority without showing that it fits such. She engages in circular logic, assuming what she wishes to prove, using her conclusion as “evidence.”

The university’s protocol for closing programs lists eight reasons for such action. All documentation on this matter shows that none applies to Art History.

We request that UPC review the Art History enrolment and resources over the last ten years and examine Dr. Suzanne Crosta’s statements to determine whether there is justification for not supporting an important program that a recent official university report assessed favourably.

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Dr. Suzanne Crosta: During these meetings, they were all informed of the intention to restructure part of the School of Arts by introducing a new BFA (and MFA) and to phase out the Art History programs.” (UPC Agenda, p. 13)

2a) Although Dr. Suzanne Crosta has claimed that she consulted widely before her decision, her consultation has consisted merely of informing a few persons or committees of it serially. The Art History professor on Long Term Disability Leave was never notified. Informing is not consulting. There is no suggestion that options for Art History were ever considered or that Faculty members were allowed any input into the decision. The university should be very concerned with Dr. Suzanne’s Crosta’s lack of collegiality.

2b) Why was there no broad consultationwith either Studio Art or Art History faculty during their single meeting with Dr. Suzanne Crosta? The purpose of her meeting was merely to tell the faculty what she had decided would happen to them.

2c) Gaining approval from the Faculty’s Academic Planning Committee is a formality. In view of her claims about consulting,

We request that UPC have Dr. Suzanne Crosta provide minutes from any meetings of her Academic Planning Committee or of her nearly identical Dean’s Advisory Council where her proposal was “extensively discussed.”

We also request that UPC review our document “The Violation of McMaster Protocol and Policies” circulated prior to the Faculty of Humanities meeting on February 28 th 2010.



Dr. Suzanne Crosta: Between February 3 rd and February 8 th , the Associate Dean met with classes of the three full-time faculty members: Dr. McQueen’s Art History 4H03; Prof. Davies’ Art History 3S03; and Dr. Sheng’s Art History 4X03. He informed the students of the Faculty’s recommendation.” (UPC Agenda, p. 14)

3a) The Associate Dean has been an unacceptable substitute. He is not responsible for the Dean’s decision and was unable to justify it. He also gave out questionable and irrelevant information. Again, the above quotation demonstrates that there was no consultation, only a poor attempt at informing students of the Dean’s directive.

3b) During last year’s Gerontology program restructuring, Dean Charlotte Yates of the Faculty of Social Sciences met with approximately 50 students on March 24 th 2009, according to an article published on March 26 th 2009 in The Silhouette. Dr. Suzanne Crosta has refused to meet with students about Art History.

3c) Both Dr. Suzanne Crosta and Dr. Wright stated that this proposal would not proceed to UC without a “debate.” Dr. Suzanne Crosta also indicated that UC would discuss the proposal in March or April. She then ensured there was no debate and continued to act in an uncollegial manner by getting her proposal hurriedly voted on at a much earlier UC meeting. Her statement that it was brought to “the next regularly scheduled Undergraduate Council” meeting thus omits pertinent facts.

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“…with not a single vote against”: there were three abstentions, which count at McMaster University as votes against. UC did not vote “overwhelmingly” in favour; clearly, even in this rushed situation, there were significant misgivings about the proposal.

3d) If a “friendly amendment to permit first-year (Humanities I) students” into the program this spring was established at UC on February 23 rd 2010, why was Art History not advertised as a potential program at the Humanities Majors Fair on March 3 rd 2010? Why has Dr. Suzanne Crosta assumed the closure of the Art History program without obtaining proper approval for it?

We request that UPC acknowledge that Dr. Suzanne Crosta has not followed university procedures, has not consulted, has exhibited a lack of collegiality, and has stifled meaningful discussion and helpful suggestions about the future of McMaster’s Art History Program.



Dr. Suzanne Crosta continually links closure of Art History to improving Studio Art, and she promises students continuation of an Art History minor.

4a) She has provided no figures on the savings created by closing Art History.

4b) She has provided no evidence that improvement of one program is conditional on the closure of the other and fails to recognize how important Art History is to Studio Art, the School of the Arts, and the rest of the university.

Dean Crosta’s false linking of the two has served only to silence faculty members directly involved.

4c) She has occasionally offered two brief reasons for closing the Art History program. Dr. Suzanne Crosta has provided no evidence for either one. Those reasons are contradicted by the 2009 External Reviewers’ Report of Art History.

4d) She has not acknowledged to students that minors have no academic significance outside this university and has not divulged the ease with which they may be cancelled, as evidenced by p. 5 of the 2008-09 Faculty of Humanities Revised Budget Submission.

For the reasons stated in sections 1 to 4 above and in the two documents we have

requested be reviewed, WE (the McMaster Art History Team) repeat our request that the recommendation before Undergraduate Planning Committee to phase-out the Art History degree be rejected in its current form.


This proposal to phase-out Art History requires serious revision, broad consultation, proper discussion and debate with the relevant stakeholders at the Faculty level. Other options for McMaster’s long-standing Art History Program must be explored and presented once again before the Undergraduate Council.

We request that the Dean and her Advisory Council examine North American research institutions and technical art schools and acknowledge the presence of BOTH Art and Art History Departments.

Without a respectable Art History Department or degree, the proposed BFA Fine Art will be appropriate to college-level or technical art school education, NOT a university.