The University Record, June 24, 1998
YoHA for one year or every year?
Congratulations to all who participated in the Year of Humanities and Arts (YoHA). I do hope that as YoHA ends, it also marks the beginning of a new and informed era where the arts and humanities are seen as central to our lives and culture.
As we continue to send the above message with great investment and energy, let us consider that we simultaneously send a very different message to our student applicants.
At Michigan (and essentially every university), students' high school art and music courses are not factored into the application process because art and music courses are not considered "academic." The implied message is art and music are not rigorous and do not require high levels of intellectual ability. This perpetuates the notion that art and music are not important.
I would argue that this is simply not true. If anything, art and music certainly require individuals to find their own ways to observe, analyze, visualize, conceptualize, realize and critically evaluate as they perform with eyes, ears, hands and brains all aimed at discovery and invention. Anyone believing that creating original visual work or skillfully interpreting a musical composition is mindless, recreational and easy hasn't done it.
My hope is that art and music will be viewed as not only important but central and critical to the education of every human being in our culture. I don't expect nor want everyone to seek a life as a visual artist or musician, but I do believe that everyone should be exposed to and benefit from the approach, inquiry, methods, tools and results found in basic art and music teaching, learning and work.
Michigan should not celebrate the arts and humanities while at the same time discounting the knowledge and experience gained by students who have benefited from courses in art and music when they apply for admission. If anything, our University message ought to be that we want those students who have demonstrated capacity and ability in "academics," and that includes art and music.
Allen Samuels, dean, School of Art & Design