University News

SUU to Add Two New Arts Degrees this Fall

Published: June 20, 2008 | Category: Academics

Southern Utah University’s College of Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) will offer two new degree programs this fall, as the University continues to improve its offerings for the most current professional demands.

Approved in the Board of Regents’ May meeting, SUU’s new Bachelor of Fines Arts (BFA) in Theatre and its Bachelor of Music (BM) degree programs will offer students two of the top undergraduate degree opportunities in the arts—degrees that are not currently offered at a majority of schools within the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE).

According to SUU President Michael T. Benson, the approval of these two degrees “is further evidence of SUU’s commitment to carving out unique niches within the state’s educational system.”

These two new degrees will most definitely enhance one of the University’s most recognized colleges among both students and institutional peers. According to Dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts Bill Byrnes, “both of these new degrees will give students an edge in terms of being competitive for graduate schools and professional positions.”

Byrnes credits this to the curriculum design behind both of the new programs that will increase the number of field-specific classes students must take. He explains, “A liberal arts version of a music or theatre degree requires students to take roughly one-third of their classes within their specific discipline. Conversely, these new degrees will allow two-thirds of a student’s classes to be discipline-specific. This shift helps a student better focus on his or her interests and allows the opportunity for a much more in-depth look at the issues and trends surrounding those interests.”

SUU will join just two other USHE institutions—the University of Utah and Utah State University—in offering a BFA degree in Theatre. However, SUU will be the only such school to offer BFA degree emphases in Classical Acting and Musical Theatre.

Considering SUU’s educational partnership with the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespearean Festival, and its current recognition among three of the nation’s top arts educational accrediting agencies, Southern Utah University is well-suited to offer a degree specifically intended for those who wish to pursue careers in these areas of theatrical production.

In addition to exclusive emphases offerings in Classical Acting and Musical Theatre, the BFA degree will also offer a degree emphasis in Theatre Design and Technology. All three BFA emphases are in high-demand areas in both academia and the professional world.

SUU’s new Bachelor of Music degree will be one of just four offered in the USHE, and with emphases in vocal performance, instrumental performance and piano pedagogy, students will now have the opportunity to be much more selective in their studies, gaining a deeper experience within their specific interests and better preparing them for graduate studies and professional music careers.

According to Byrnes, SUU’s Department of Music, which is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, “has reached a point in its development where offering the Bachelor of Music degree is a logical progression of years of work in strengthening and enhancing the study of music at SUU.”

With the first opportunity to enroll in the two new degree programs this fall, students in both the music and theatre departments are already lining up to apply for program acceptance. And Byrnes, whose focus since taking the helm in 2004 has been to “make PVA’s offerings relevant and current with practices in the field,” anticipates both new programs will be well-received.

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