You are on page 1of 16

To the respected members of the McMaster University community:

My name is Kasia Stolarz and I am hoping to declare myself an Honours Art History
student at the end of this academic year. After two and a half years in other areas of
study at other post-secondary institutions in my hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia, I
transferred to McMaster in the fall of 2009 and have since fallen in love with the Art
History program offered here. The faculty, though few, are incredibly well-versed in
their respective areas of concentration, and their strong knowledge bases are matched
only by the amount of guidance and support that they lend to the aspiring art historians
in their midst. The students come to class prepared and excited to learn. This most
certainly is because students find the course material to be engaging, compelling, and
above all, relevant. This is because art history is relevant.

I chose McMaster because of its commitment to innovation, its high rates of graduate
success, and its world-renowned reputation for having exceedingly high-quality teaching
staff and facilities. I chose McMaster because of its commitment to greatness in all
fields of study; not just health sciences, economics, and engineering. It is my strong
opinion that this commitment to greatness and innovation cannot be honoured by
dropping the Art History major that McMaster currently offers. As at any high caliber
post-secondary institution, studies in the arts must be pursued in all areas; not just in
the studio. McMaster may produce brilliant artists with an improved Studio Art
program, but without any art historians, gallery owners, and curators to discuss and
promote them, the artists that you promise to benefit now will be at a huge loss in the

As an out-of-province tuition paying student, a lover of the arts, and an aspiring art
historian, I respectfully urge you to keep the Art History major at McMaster.

Kasia Stolarz


My name is Jeremy Forsyth and I am a third year Studio Art student at Mac, double-
majoring with History. The announcement regarding the potential phase-out of the Art
History program has greatly disappointed me, as well as hundreds (literally - hundreds)
of other McMaster students.
I understand that budgetary restraints have forced this decision, and that the Studio Art
program stands to gain a significant portion of Art History's funds if this decision is
finalized. While this development would directly benefit my program, I feel compelled
to inform you that the decision to phase out the Art History program would be
disastrous, both for Art History AND for Studio Art students.

No Studio Art program can hope to be taken seriously without a strong, supported Art
History Program. If this decision is finalized and the Art History program is phased out,
cancelled, or limited in any way, no graduate school would consider Studio Art
applicants from McMaster as fully educated, and would waste no time denying said
applicant from admission to their institution. Furthermore, if the plans for McMaster to
set up a masters program in Visual Art is ever realized, the idea of a Masters Studio Art
program without a strong Art History program to support it is, frankly, idiotic.

Art and Art History are a package deal. They come together. Last year, while learning
about bronze sculptures in Art History, the Studio Art students invited the Art History
students into our studios after class to see how bronze sculptures are made. The Art
History students greatly benefited from this hands-on experience, and the Studio Art
students greatly benefited from learning about the history behind the processes we
were doing. This interplay between the programs is incredibly beneficial and it would be
a shame to lose it.

It is clear that in the case of Art History and Studio Art, one program cannot benefit at
the expense of the other. Both programs need to be funded and expanded equally in
order for the Studio Art program to be taken seriously, and for McMaster to correct its
reputation as a school that is quickly becoming a specialized university whose only
credible faculty is Engineering.

PLEASE do not allow how much money a program brings into a university have sway
over the quality of education you provide. I understand the University is a business, but
good business means providing a service of high quality. At the end of the day, it is the
quality of education and the reputation of the University that brings McMaster tuition
money. You do NOT build a good reputation by slashing funding and canceling some
programs while giving preferential treatment to others.

I urge you to please reconsider your decision before it is too late. There must be a
compromise, and I implore you to reach that compromise by listening to the hundreds
of students who will be affected by this decision.

Thank you,
Jeremy Forsyth
To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to express my concerns regarding the phasing out of the Art History degree
programs at McMaster. As head of a high school art department and a McMaster
graduate, it saddens me that McMaster is even considering this tragic error. It is
shameful that a university as highly rated as McMaster, is considering taking a giant step
backward in maintaining its integrity as a world – class institution. How will the
McMaster Museum of Art serve as a “cultural hub” in a culturally vacuous community?

Shirley Woods
Head of Art Dept.
Dunnville Secondary School

Dear members of the Undergraduate Council,

On behalf of the McMaster Students Union, I would like to register a complaint with the
process that the proposed phase-out of Art History has taken. We understand that there
has been no breach of regulation, and as such, this complaint is not based on those

It is our understanding that the proposed transformation of the Art History department
was to come to the Undergraduate Council on Tuesday, March 23rd. It was then to go to
the Senate on April 14th. We are both troubled and disappointed that the decision was
made over reading week to change the timeline of the transformation to the February
23rd meeting of the Undergraduate Council, and the March 10th senate meeting. It is
our firm belief that this decision has limited students’ ability to have a constructive and
informed dialogue regarding the proposed phase-out of art history.

Firstly, the decision was made during a time when most students and student leaders
were not on-campus or available for consultation. As far as I am aware, no attempt was
made to consult student leaders over the course of the week on the change to the

While the tones of these debates can occasionally become acrimonious, the MSU
remains committed to a constructive and professional dialogue about this issue. We
have, time and time again, demonstrated our willingness to work with faculties and
administration to communicate effectively with students. This is why the decision to
change the timeline was so disappointing. No attempt was made to consult the MSU,
MAPS, the Art History students, or the McMaster Humanities Society.
It is plainly obvious that students want to talk about this issue, and it is disheartening as
a believer in this institution that our input is so disregarded.

In addition, this change severely limits the ability of student representatives from the
MSU, MAPS and Art History to get our facts together in order to have a constructive
dialogue. One of the pitfalls of student leadership is that we have a limited time-frame
to understand issues that oftentimes have been happening well beyond the length of
time we’ve spent at the school.

I am personally dismayed that the faculty of Humanities has made the decision to
shorten the already too-brief space of time we have to understand this issue before it is
decided upon. This effectively limits our ability to have an informed and constructive
discussion about it.

As a representative of all undergraduate students, I am writing to inform you that the

students union opposes this change to the schedule. We will be informing our
membership of this opposition, and encouraging as many students as possible to do the

VP Education - Chris Martin

Dear University Secretariat, President Peter George, Dr. Busch-Vishniac (Provost), Dr.
Crosta (Dean of Humanities), and Dr. Kinder (SOTA Director):

The Faculty of Humanities’ proposal to phase out the McMaster Art History Program
comes as a shock to many of us, and certainly myself. Even more numbing if the fact
that no official reasons for this potential phasing out of the program has been given to
students and to date, and senior administration has also failed to provide and conduct
information sessions to fully explain the reasons for the closure. The Program Review
for Art History DOES NOT indicate any evidence of low enrolment nor does it contain
any comments that report low quality.

Currently, I am a student in my first year enrolled in Art History and Studio Art at
McMaster University. Consequently I chose McMaster University for this particular Art
& Art History program, and am very frustrated that you are cutting Art History out. I
find it unfair that I wasn't informed of this, and equally unfair for all the prospective
students looking at McMaster specifically for Art History will have to look elsewhere.

I also find it distressing that the Faculty of Humanities at McMaster University does not
value interdisciplinary education and shows little regard for the preservation of
disciplines in the Humanities, something many thought true until the decisions to phase
out Art History.

The official statement from the Humanities’ website states:

As that world becomes more interconnected, the disciplines of the humanities – the
study of history and culture, language and philosophy, art and music – have acquired a
fresh relevance.

Dr. Crosta also argues that: [The Faculty of Humanities] is also becoming a place of
cross-disciplinary collaboration, where classic disciplines are interacting with new forms
of knowledge and new technologies. Those trends herald an exciting future for
McMaster Humanities.

Unfortunately, the many closures in Combined Hons. BA Women’s Studies, Hons. BA

Comparative Literature, Hons. BA Italian, Hons. BA Spanish, Hons BA German, MS
German and MA Music DO NOT indicate the Faculty of Humanities is “becoming a place
of cross-disciplinary collaboration.” Also, there is NO FINANCIAL CRISIS since
appointments are being made elsewhere and new plans are being created in other

If the decision to phase out Mac Art History is approved by the Senate, McMaster
University will be the FIRST NORTH AMERICAN RESEARCH UNIVERSITY to reduce this
discipline to a minor. This would be a precedent that will significantly diminish
McMaster’s stature, part of making it only a technical institute - something quite
damaging to the reputation of McMaster. The offer of a MINOR in Art History will NOT
attract any serious students interested in pursuing higher education in the discipline.
As strong supporters of the arts, we FULLY ENCOURAGE the new plans to strengthen the
BFA program but we ask that you keep Art History INTACT and continue to provide
support. A MINOR is NOT a compromise!

We are frustrated by this sudden proposal to phase out Art History and we would like
some answer from SENIOR ADMINISTRATION on this matter.

Emily Benedict, 1st Year Humanities/School of the Arts
As is now somewhat better known, earlier this month, the Dean of Humanities
announced the phasing out of the Art History program through the Daily News. People
are alarmed and angry, not for the simple reason that a program is supposed to close,
but for what this means for the university, both in substance and in procedure. Some
have written eloquently here about the substance.

The procedure has been unacceptable. The Dean of Humanities made this decision after
"consultation" which had no meaning. Not consulted or even informed were the faculty
members or students in the School of the Arts (which houses Art History) or the Faculty
of Humanities. Most learned what little there was to know from news reports and
campus innuendo.

The 2009 review of the Art History program is positive. The Dean has ignored it.

Upon examination, the reasons the Dean has given for closing the program appear to
be, as I've said in print today, specious and distorted. It also appears that no options
were explored.

A printed news item (February 18) reported that there would be input from students
and others, even though it was after the "official" announcement. From the beginning,
the Dean has refused to speak to students about the matter, and most faculty members
are probably equally in the dark.

The Associate Dean, whom she sent to students to do her explaining, is not responsible
for the decision. He has given out some misleading and irrelevant information.

Having also said, according to the above news report, that Undergraduate Council would
discuss the matter in late March or April, the Dean got the matter approved by that
group on February 23 with no meaningful discussion. The two pages provided to
Undergraduate Council on this by the Dean are in notable ways inconsistent and

"There will be a debate, and I expect nothing less," the Dean is quoted as saying. She has
made sure that her own high-minded expectation has gone unfulfilled.


Paul Rapoport
Professor (Emeritus)
School of the Arts
McMaster University
I am a mature part-time student with a full time job during the day. I did not attend
university in my youth but always felt that I was missing out on something very valuable.
I decided that I would attend university and, however long it would take, I would get a
degree. My chosen area of study? Art History.
I will not give up my dream, but I feel I will be forced to seek out this degree at another
university. This is not what I want. Having only taken the first year Art History courses –
due to the lack of courses being offered in the evening – I was sincerely hoping to dive in
to my studies as the first two courses opened up a whole new wonderful world to me.
As a result of taking those courses, I made an art pilgrimage to Paris and saw many of
the great works that I did not imagine ever seeing! I also have furthered my education
by volunteering at the Art Gallery of Ontario where I discover new wonders every week.
Please do not phase out Art History and please offer courses in the evenings!!!

Lynn Bryden

Colleagues and Friends:

Over the last two months an incoherent and inadequate debate has been conducted
regarding the closure of Art History. Tonight we are on the eve of a short and badly
argued document going before Undergraduate Council BEFORE it has been considered
by either the School of the Arts or the Faculty of Humanities. So much for the Academy.

Over the last two months my students, my colleagues, our program, and even the
external reviewers who visited last March have been maligned in ways that might be
described by some as verging on mendacity. Over the last two months, my students
have repeatedly tried to find an opportunity to discuss this matter with any
administrator empowered to make a decision on closure. Everyone, except for the
Associate Dean of Humanities (who has no such authority), is unavailable - always. Dean
Crosta, authoress of this redefinition of the Faculty and of the story behind it, is so busy
that she might be able to see students in three to five weeks, they are told. So much for
our deep respect for students.

I won't be surprised if several of you tell me you have never heard of this matter. I
myself was neither notified nor consulted. In fact, in the document going before
Undergraduate Council my existence as a faculty member is unmentioned. So much for
the myth of collegiality.
Needless to say, the issues involved here go far beyond the closure of a specific
program. They are issues of governance (arbitrary), lack of oversight, integrity, and even
common decency. They are issues concerning the constant pillaging of the Faculty and
its ultimate fate. They are issues of the Faculty's reputation, to which we all contribute,
in our various ways.

To further clarify my position, I attach a letter sent to the President on 7 February and to
which I have had no reply.

Hayden Maginnis
Professor of the History of Art

“Thanks very much for your report; this is the first information that I have received
concerning closing Art History. It seems to me that the decisions have been (or are
being) taken at the level of the Dean, the Dean’s Advisory Council, and the Academic
Planning Committee. I as a member... of the School of the Arts Faculty have never been
consulted on this, nor am I aware of any meetings or votes taken by the School of the
Arts in relation to this issue. I wish you all success in your mission! "

“I'm sorry to hear about this and wish I could help. However, I am no longer a faculty
member at McMaster. I left McMaster last summer, in part because of the kinds of the
decisions (like this one) that the administration was making about programs in the
Humanities. Good luck with your fight!”

"I graduated from McMaster in 2006 with an Honours BA in Art History and French, and
then went on to receive a Master’s degree in Art History from York University. While it
was apparent that the McMaster Art History department was under-funded and lacked
the equipment and resources other programs took for granted my education did not
suffer for it. I cannot speak highly enough of the quality of education I received and the
level of dedication to their discipline the faculty members displayed. It was not until I
started graduate studies, however, that I fully understood and appreciated how well I
had been trained. I transitioned easily into this new realm of academia and continued to
develop advanced skills and ideas that had emerged during my undergraduate studies."
"As a current McMaster student, studying abroad for the 2009-2010 academic year, the
failure to properly and respectfully communicate the phasing out of my program to
me(and my fellow students) is fraught with problems, the most prominent being rumour
and misinformation. I am concerned that the Faculty of Humanities at McMaster
University does not value interdisciplinary education and shows little regard for the
preservation of disciplines in the Humanities. As fourth year arrives and with it the great
beyond of 'post-undergraduate life' begins, I pause. At this stage, I can't wait for the
alumni canvassers to call. The silence that will ring from the 'click' of my phone will be

I am writing to express my outrage at the recent attempts to do away with the Art
History programme at McMaster University. The systematic under funding of the
programme and attempts to misrepresent the quality and dedication of faculty and
students reflects badly not on the department, but rather on the administration. Given
the importance of an institution like the Art Gallery of Hamilton on both local and
national levels, I urge you to reconsider this move, and to actively support the
continuing study of art history at McMaster University.

Yours sincerely,
Flora Ward
PhD Candidate, Department of Art
University of Toronto


It must be said that the decision to do away with the Art History program at McMaster
University is a colossal mistake; one that we all as a faculty believe will cost the
university dearly, and thoroughly damage its reputation as an open minded university.
At the gallery opening for Fierce at the McMaster Museum of Art Dr. Costa and Peter
George spoke at length about the importance of an artistic community here at
McMaster, and how wonderful and warm a community has been created here. They
went on to discuss even more so how much maintaining this artistic community meant
to the university, and how proud they were of such a diverse area of study. Everything
they've said will be in vain and entirely hypocritical if this faculty is phased out; one
cannot expect the fine arts to adequately survive without the option of studying Art
History at length (and this goes beyond the minor requirements, as a great number of
fine arts students undertake a double major in both fine arts and art history in their time
here at McMaster.)
A vast amount of first year students have come to talk to us, the current students of the
art history faculty, utterly frazzled and entirely distraught at the prospect of a fine arts
university with no art history honors program. Many have brought to our attention that
they've already missed the deadlines to re-apply to another university for fine arts (one
that offers Art History and is not threatening to take away its honors major program),
and as such if they decide not to stay at McMaster should this motion be passed (as
many of them, it seems, will leave)they will have to wait an entire extra year before they
can apply to another university, thus wasting their first year of post-secondary
education (the money for which the university will keep), and forfeiting their second
year, postponing their post-secondary education by two full years (perhaps only one if
their credits will stand at another university.)

Art history is the back bone of our culture, and without knowing the past of a culture,
how can we possibly expect to progress in any kind of civilized future? Granted, doing
without one university's art history program may not affect the state of the nation,
however there are so few programs offered in art history across Canada, that it will
impact incoming students drastically. Being the first university to ever phase out the art
history faculty to a minor it is my belief that this may start a chain reaction of
undermining the significance of such an area of study, one that will hinder us as a
culture decades down the line. I do not want to be a part of killing a beloved and highly
influential part of our culture, and think that those involved in this decision should be
ashamed of themselves. We may not have the same numbers as Engineering or Health
Sciences, and we may not go on to careers that will make us multi-millionaires, but we
embrace the past, and teach it to our children, and spreading the wealth of knowledge
that is the history of art is a beautiful thing. I was proud to go to McMaster, but now will
be forced to tell future generations that they are a hypocritical institution, one that
claims a love for the arts, that claims to embrace all things that unify us as a culture, but
in turn killed anything that was not deemed profitable enough, simply to save a measly
$30,000 a year. Do not allow the death of art history at McMaster to take place, as it will
be mistake of immense proportions, and will reflect very poorly on the institution.

The word has already gone out to various different publications that this is taking place,
and as various different publications such as the Globe and Mail have already
interviewed Dean Costa as well as one of our "ambassadors" as we've come to be called,
it seems that the representative for the university (the Dean of Humanities) has yet to
keep her story straight, whereas our ambassador has given them fact after fact, and
stuck to his story throughout this ordeal. They know the situation, and are prepared to
report on the final decision made. Do a favor to the university and don't give them bad
press to publish. Keep your students proud to be McMaster students, and stop this
horrible mistake before the decision is finalized.

As a final note, it is utterly appalling that the Dean herself would ignore the emails of
the students, parents of students, and student representatives, go on to move the date
that this was to be brought to the senate to the end of March, and then wait for reading
week to change the date one last time to the day after our return to class this Tuesday
February 23rd. This was an underhanded, sneaky, and down right criminal thing to do,
to attempt to cheat us out of our chance to speak up for our faculty, and pass this
motion quickly, and I’d imagine silently. You should be ashamed.

Ariel Fisher, Honors Major Art History, third year

I would like to reveal the misinformation presented in “No future for art history”
(February 17, 2010). Suzanne Crosta provided a distorted image of the program by
excluding the part-time students of Art History! There are currently 66 students enrolled
in the program (44 full-time and 22 part-time). MAPS (McMaster Association of Part-
Time Students) is thus also enraged with this proposal to close the program because of
its high demand with part-time and mature students. Also, Dr. Crosta only examined the
second year enrollment statistics and therefore has grossly misrepresented student
interest in the program.

In a recent meeting, Associate Dean David Wright admitted that the Art History program
has been actively starved for resources since 2006. Yet despite these efforts to diminish
the program, the Art History Program Review of 2009 praised its high quality and
increased enrollment numbers.

The Art History program has a reputation for successfully preparing students for careers
in the arts and other professional fields such as law, architecture and education. It is a
shame that this program has been targeted by one who has very little understanding of
the arts.

-Laura Irene DiMarco

(Honours B.A. Art History and minor in Classics, McMaster University, class of 2009)

I am currently a third year Art History student at McMaster University and I write to
inform you of my concern regarding the proposed phasing out of the stand alone Art
History program.
As I am sure you can now tell, the news of the proposed phase out has been received by
us students with a resounding feeling of misunderstanding and disappointment. While
the reasons for this proposal have been explained time and time again by Associate
Dean Wright (and while I believe I can say on behalf of my fellow students that his
efforts are appreciated), I cannot help but feel confused. For a university whose mission
is to preserve knowledge and to inspire a passion for learning, this proposition seems
both contradictory and misinformed. The interdisciplinary nature of Art History as a
subject holds with it the potential for increased knowledge and learning, making it
possibly one of the most valuable subjects the Faculty of Humanities offers. Although it
has been stressed that Art History courses will still be taught at McMaster, the small
number of units that will remain in order to offer a minor do not do the subject justice.
This exemplifies a complete disregard for the importance of Art History and its study as
well as the program's high quality.

It has been noted that the Faculty of Humanities has, in recent years, implemented a
number of new programs and institutions in order to strengthen the faculty. I cannot
possibly make it more clear that I am pleased to hear about these changes, as well as
the proposed expansion of the Fine Arts program. Yet what I find troubling is that it has
also been noted that the Art History program has been struggling for quite some time. I
do not understand how this struggle has been allowed to continue, especially with the
program's strong potential for being one of the most successful in the country. I need
not bombard you with the now well known facts that indicate the program's high quality
in order to prove this point. What should be made evident, however, is that further
funding and resources are (and have been for a number of years) needed in order to
expand this quality and make McMaster a unique place for the study of Art History. The
fact that we students have felt the need to belabor this point should indicate a serious
problem within the Faculty of Humanities and the administration's preference for
subjects other than Art History.

I have been tempted throughout this letter to bring in points from the external review
of the Art History program that took place in May 2009. Yet it has been brought to our
attention that this review is apparently full of errors and incorrect information,
something I find to be rather unsettling. I have no choice but to consider the external
review as either inadequate or undervalued, neither of which flatter the Faculty of
Humanities and its administration. Again, this seems to indicate that the program of Art
History is unappreciated and unrecognized.

I am sad to admit that in the past two weeks my feelings about the Faculty of
Humanities, SOTA and McMaster University as a whole have not been positive. The
thought of McMaster without its quality stand alone Art History program is enough to
make me shake my head in bewilderment and shame. I cannot help but feel like a
decision to officially phase out the program would be a huge, huge mistake. If the
decision is made final, I only hope that the university is prepared to deal with the
serious burden that would follow.
Erin Wall
Honours Art History, 2011

Dear University Secretariat, President George, Dr. Bush-Vishniac, Dr. Crosta and Dr.
I am a recent graduate of McMaster University and I am writing to express my severe
disappointment over the proposed phasing out of the Art History program. During my
undergraduate career at McMaster a similar proposition was made; although the
program survived, its advocates were required to fiercely defend the program and the
importance of arts education. Four years later, I am extremely disheartened to have to
do so again. Eliminating Art History as an Honours or Joint Honours option and reducing
it to a Minor would, given the plans to strengthen the BFA program, the developing
artistic community in Hamilton and the value of art history in general, be a crucial error.
I graduated from McMaster in 2006 with an Honours BA in Art History and French,
and then went on to receive a Master’s degree in Art History from York University.
While it was apparent that the McMaster Art History department was under-funded and
lacked the equipment and resources other programs took for granted, my education did
not suffer for it. I cannot speak highly enough of the quality of education I received and
the level of dedication to their discipline the faculty members displayed. It was not until
I started graduate studies, however, that I fully understood and appreciated how well I
had been trained. I transitioned easily into this new realm of academia and continued to
develop advanced skills and ideas that had emerged during my undergraduate studies. I
am not the only student to have benefited from this program; many graduates have
gone on to study at such prestigious institutions as the University of Edinburgh, the
Courtauld Institute of Art and Harvard University. With little support and funding, Art
History at McMaster can still claim impressive faculty, instruction and students; I can
only imagine how successful the program would be with adequate funding for faculty
and resources.
While it is insulting that the university would accord so little value to something that
for me, and many others, is extremely worthwhile, my concern extends beyond my
personal investment in the program and the discipline. I understand that the Art History
program is being condensed, among other reasons that remain unclear, in order to
devote more funding and attention to the also under-valued and under-funded BFA
program. As an art historian, I appreciate this proposition, but as they are
interdependent disciplines, to develop the studio program while neglecting Art History
seems entirely counter-productive. Artists are not autonomous beings who create in a
vacuum; they, like everybody else, respond to the conditions of their past and present.
Artists participate in a constant dialogue with other artists, both historical and
contemporary; they argue, collaborate, question, honour and motivate, and often it is
from these interactions that the most successful art emerges. Improving the BFA
program is not simply a matter of funding better facilities and hiring more faculty;
without an adequate art historical grounding that moves beyond introductory courses,
the artists will not be able to fully exploit the resources and teaching they are offered.
Just as devoting financial support to a program that produces artists while
simultaneously eliminating the program that studies them is illogical, so too is
neglecting the Art History program while Hamilton’s artistic activities continue to
develop. The McMaster Museum of Art and the Art Gallery of Hamilton are reputable
institutions and valuable resources to students of art history, and James Street North is
witnessing an exciting proliferation of artist-run centers and commercial galleries.
Eliminating the Art History program in light of these conditions defies reason,
particularly given the opportunity these developments offer McMaster to begin to
establish itself as an arts-positive institution in a vibrant arts community, which in turn
will increase enrollment and attract desirable students and faculty.
Finally, the proposition to phase out the Art History program displays an obvious lack
of understanding of the caliber of scholar the study of art produces. As globalization
collapses literal and ideological boundaries and academia moves towards
interdisciplinarity, Art History stands out as one of few areas of study that is truly and
inherently interdisciplinary. The study of art demands inquiry into numerous other
domains such as archaeology, anthropology, sociology, history, philosophy, science,
religion, linguistics, politics, semiotics and gender theory; it also develops effective
research, writing, analytical and critical thinking skills. It is becoming increasingly evident
that in today’s competitive job market employers are seeking candidates trained in the
Humanities that possess a well-rounded, broad range of knowledge and are able to
thinking creatively and critically; Art Historical training produces exactly this kind of
Art has been produced for as long as humans have existed and has acted, for
example, as propaganda, therapy, decoration and allegory. It has, and continues to be a
powerful communicative tool that has been as equally feared as lauded. Considering the
crucial role art has played in our history, for a university to disregard the importance of
the study of art is absurd. North America is one of the few places in the world where art
and arts education requires consistent justification from its supporters, and I am
ashamed that my alma mater is contributing to the problem. Adding Art History to the
numerous Humanities disciplines that have already been phased out is not progressive,
it’s embarrassing. I urge you to reconsider the phasing out of the Art History program,
and instead, I ask you to devote the financial and moral support necessary to rebuild the

Eva Feldmann
Dear President George,

I am writing in regards to the closure of the Art History program at McMaster. Although
it is a small program, it encourages students to see the impact of the creative human
impetus. Few students are as passionate for what they study as those of Art History. The
McMaster Museum of Art is a wonderful resource, teaching from canvas, stone, and oil,
rather than projector and screen. In a world which moves at an incredibly fast pace, the
treasures of the past are quickly forgotten. Please don’t close a world of possibilities to
future McMaster students.

Engineering and sciences may be McMaster’s future. These faculties aggressively

demand resources and recognition as the most relevant fields. However there is a subtle
charm, a noble pride to the Humanities which is slowly being phased out. Art history
teaches beauty free from constraint, and its value cannot be appraised.

It would be a shame for students to remain silent in this matter, lest our silence be
mistaken as acquiescence. Thank you for your time.

Liana Brent
Level IV Humanities

I am a current student at McMaster and I am writing to express my complete and utter

dismay at the decision by the Faculty of Humanities to phase out the Art History

Having read the Art History External Reviewers Report of 2009 in detail, I am shocked at
the decision to phase out a program so clearly loved by students, faculty and alumni
alike. The increasing enrolment numbers, excellent student GPAs and high percentage
of students who go on to pursue post graduate studies are a testament to the high
quality of the program, despite its limited resources. As you no doubt are well aware the
program has a long-standing and strong reputation within McMaster and very
distinguished and brilliant faculty. I vehemently believe it would be extremely
detrimental to not only McMaster University but also the city of Hamilton as a whole if
the art history program were to be dismantled.

Furthermore, I find it extremely malicious and insulting to veil the phasing out of the
program under the auspice and heading of “New Opportunities For Students in the
Arts”. Clearly an MFA is not economically sustainable if the university is unable to
support an undergraduate program in Art History and many students and faculty in the
studio arts program will agree. It is completely absurd to frame the phasing out of art
history as a “new opportunity” and to continue to offer a minor is of absolutely no

As a current student I will not stand idle if the university moves forward with the
decision to phase out the program and will complete the remainder of my degree
elsewhere should this be the case. I have absolutely no desire to learn and study within
a university that does not respect and recognize the program I love.

I apologize in advance if this letter comes across as somewhat aggressive but I am not
one to play into university politics. Please take the time to re consider your strategic
plan and I look forward to embracing a change in direction.

Dorian Batycka