NYCAMS to Close

September 6, 2013

By Suzanne McInroy, Director of Communications

NYCAMS to Close

Inside the NYCAMS art gallery in New York City.

After eight years, Bethel University will discontinue its operation of the New York Center for Art & Media Studies (NYCAMS) as of September 2013.

“It has been a privilege for us at Bethel to offer this unique opportunity to nurture and challenge ambitious young artists and writers to engage culture in creative, reflective, and transformative ways,” says Barrett Fisher, acting dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “Through a combination of art history and contemporary literature courses, studio work and writing workshops, gallery and museum tours as well as guest lecturers and internship experiences, along with the excitement of daily life in one of the world’s great cities, juniors and seniors from 30different colleges and universities have clarified their vocation, deepened their faith, and equipped themselves for fulfilling careers.”

Since 2005, NYCAMS has provided nearly 300 art and writing students a semester-long immersion experience in the artistic and literary culture of New York City. “While NYCAMS has enjoyed great success in many respects, it has struggled with the increased cost of its studio space – the rent has more than doubled in six years – as well as lower enrollments than projected,” explains Fisher. “And even though 2012-2013 reached the highest level of attendance yet, the applications for fall 2013 were much fewer than anticipated. At the same time, the lease for the current building expired. The time seemed right, then, for us to pause and reconsider both the curricular design and cost structure of the program.”

Another complication arose this summer when the state of New York ordered Bethel University to “cease and desist” the operation of NYCAMS until the university had applied for and received “permission to operate” in New York. When NYCAMS was first proposed in 2004, the New York State Department of Education informed Bethel officially that such permission was not required, Fisher said. However, when university administrators contacted state officials this summer, they were told they must go through the process and a decision would likely be made in summer 2014. The combination of all of these factors resulted in the decision to discontinue Bethel University’s operation of NYCAMS.

The director of NYCAMS and the current faculty are exploring new affiliations and sources of support for the program.

Question and Answers on NYCAMS Closing

What is the timeline for closing NYCAMS?

Bethel University will discontinue its operation of NYCAMS as of September 2013.  At the same time, the director of NYCAMS and the current faculty are exploring new affiliations and sources of support for the program.

Who made the decision to close NYCAMS?

The provost, Deb Harless, and the acting dean, Barrett Fisher, made this decision in consultation with others.

What’s the typical student mix at NYCAMS – Bethel students and students from other institutions?

On average, in each semester at NYCAMS about 30% of the students have come from Bethel and the remainder from other institutions.

What impact will closing NYCAMS have on current curricular and co-curricular opportunities?

The closing of NYCAMS will not affect any student’s ability to complete an art or English major; while NYCAMS has been an option that students in those departments have been encouraged to pursue, they will be able to fulfill all of their requirements without going to New York. Unfortunately, they do lose the opportunity to engage artistic and literary culture in a particularly intense and unique way, and to gain the experience of an internship in New York City.

What is the projected savings from closing NYCAMS?

In the eight years that NYCAMS operated, it never achieved its goal of a balanced budget. While that loss varied from year to year, the most recent deficit was projected at a little more than $300,000.

Are employees at NYCAMS going to lose their jobs?

With NYCAMS closing, a position no longer exists for the Center Coordinator. As full-time Bethel faculty, those who teach at NYCAMS are under contract until May 2014.

Has the university communicated with NYCAMS alumni?

In addition to this announcement and Q & A, Bethel plans to contact NYCAMS alumni personally.

What other similar urban educational options are available to students?

One of the many difficult aspects of closing NYCAMs is its uniqueness, especially for art students. However, there are a number of other immersion programs for journalism and communications studies students to explore. The Council of Christian College and University’s (CCCU) Washington Journalism Center offers an advanced, experiential semester on Capitol Hill that cultivates professional news skills and encourages students to think through the implications of being a Christian working in the news media. And Baylor University’s Baylor Communication in New York offers an immersive educational experience in New York City, including a course on “Art and the Moving Image.”

Who can I contact with questions?

Questions regarding the closing of NYCAMS may be directed to Barrett Fisher, acting dean for the College of Arts & Sciences, at b-fisher@bethel.edu.

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