NOVEMBER 18, 2021 — The Southwest School of Art (SSA) Board of Trustees and The University of Texas System Board of Regents this week approved a Definitive Agreement for SSA and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to proceed with fully integrating SSA’s arts programs, assets and resources into a new UTSA school focused on advancing the arts. The agreement will be executed by the end of 2021 and will guide the transition towards commencement of the new school by fall 2022.
The new school will be organized under UTSA’s College of Liberal and Fine Arts, enabling the integration of SSA’s prestigious Bachelor of Fine Arts program and expanded community offerings, while preserving SSA’s historic assets.
“This historic agreement will amplify the impact of the arts for future generations, and it is an unbelievable honor to be a part of it,” said SSA President Paula Owen. “The arts bring people together and articulate the human condition while expressing the inexpressible, giving both joy and solace. Working together, UTSA and SSA will create a beacon for innovative, high-quality and deeply meaningful arts education.”
The two institutions announced in August their plans to add SSA’s programs and assets to UTSA. The announcement followed a yearlong exploration to determine how the two institutions could formalize a collaboration to advance their shared goal of expanding opportunities for current and prospective art students. Inherent in this new school is a shared commitment to further support the long-term continuity of arts education in San Antonio.
“Today’s decision by the Board of Regents is a significant step in establishing San Antonio as the cultural heart of Texas,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “This bold endeavor will bring a multitude of new opportunities for San Antonians and deepen our collective capacity to provide world-class arts education.”
The collaborative effort will spur cultural and economic growth through the effective use of resources by increasing community engagement, generating cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural exchange, and elevating creative literacy through an expansion of teaching and studio space. It will also enable the new school to capitalize on the growing use of technology in the digital arts space, leveraging UTSA’s downtown investment and adjacency with the School of Data Science.
“Arts education programs have immeasurable benefits to students and the broader community alike,” said James B. Milliken, chancellor of The University of Texas System. “I enthusiastically support the grand plan of UTSA and SSA to integrate their expertise and assets into one, amplifying San Antonio’s, and by extension, Texas’ role as an art destination for students and professional artists.”
The new school will be anchored at the SSA campus downtown and will preserve its historic buildings, grounds and programs. Named spaces will also remain, including galleries, studios and buildings such as Club Giraud. The two institutions will work together to smoothly transition operations to UTSA and UT System while retaining SSA’s vital relationships with students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and the community. Shared governance planning is underway to explicate the new school and an integrated undergraduate degree bachelor of fine arts program.
“When two institutions of this caliber join forces, it has a tremendous impact for the community at large,” said Board of Trustees for SSA Chair Randy Cain. “This arrangement will not only further arts education in San Antonio, but also preserve historic buildings and traditions, critical to maintaining the rich culture of our city in perpetuity for decades to come.”
UTSA will honor the historic role SSA plays in the San Antonio community by providing community classes, events, lectures, exhibitions and partnerships with local leaders and organizations. UTSA intends to maintain SSA’s name and brand in the naming of the new school.
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