When Johnston Community College put together its curriculum for last fall, two longtime courses of study fell off the list – the associate degrees in art and music.
The change was several years in the making, JCC President David Johnson said. It resulted from last year’s adoption of a new Comprehensive Articulation Agreement, which determines how credits transfer from N.C. community colleges to schools in the University of North Carolina system.
Under the new agreement, North Carolina’s 16 four-year universities no longer accept credits from associate degrees in fine arts, such as the music and art programs at JCC.
“It basically rendered those two programs obsolete,” Johnson said.
Even before the change went into place, Johnson said, its eventuality had caused enrollment in fine-arts programs to drop so low that JCC could no longer afford to offer them. Ending the degrees will allow JCC to add other programs whose credits can transfer to UNC schools, Johnson said. He mentioned specifically an engineering program that JCC will offer for the first time this fall.
Instead of continuing to offer the fine-arts degrees, Johnson said, JCC decided it made more sense for students to pursue associate degrees in art or science. Those programs allow students to fulfill all of their general education requirements, which means they can transfer to a four-year college and enroll in any of its degree programs, including fine arts.
JCC remains committed to the fine arts, Johnson said, and many classes remain available to both continuing education and traditional students. That includes courses in music theory, music fundamentals, jazz ensemble, ceramics, mosaics and water colors. Credits from some classes, such as art appreciation and music appreciation, will still transfer to four-year universities.
“It’s not a matter of our trying to eliminate the arts here at the college,” Johnson said. “It’s just a little different way of doing business going forward so we can accommodate the needs of our students with the very limited resources we have.”
The college did cut several other fine arts classes, spokeswoman Traci Ashley said. Those include photography; woodworking; applied music lessons; ensemble; ceramics II; sculpture I and II; painting I and II; and two- and three-dimensional design.
At JCC, all art teachers are adjunct instructors, meaning they work part-time for the college, Ashley said. Studio classes are taught face-to-face with students, she said, and art appreciation is offered face-to-face, online or as a hybrid of the two.
JCC last admitted new students into the fine arts programs in the spring 2014 semester, Ashley said. When those courses of studies got cut, Ashley said, students who had already completed half of the requirements for a degree were given until this fall to graduate. Students who do not graduate on time will be transferred to the associate of arts program, she said.
For students who had not made it halfway through a degree by the start of this school year, JCC automatically moved them into the associate of arts program, Ashley said.
For the public, the Frank Creech Art Gallery at JCC will continue to host exhibits that rotate about once a month, Johnson said.
“We’re not going to abandon the Frank Creech Art Gallery by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.
Altogether, Johnson said the changes get back to an old phrase about dealing with scarce resources that he has said all along: “At some point, we have to stop doing some things in order to do some things.”