I will be honest with you, blogosphere, I have been struggling over the past few days. Last week the Guilford Beacon released the final report of the Administrative and Program Services Assessment (APSA), a document compiled over the past two years in order to “process improvement, greater accountability for results, improve metrics for assessment and enhance efficiency”. All administrative areas were reviewed and analyzed, and recommendations were made to meet the goals quoted above (the whole document can be accessed here). One of the areas under review was our beloved Art Gallery located in the library (page 29 in the document). The committee recognized the care and detail that was made by the Gallery staff in writing up their report for the APSA, but they also note that the gallery “is ancillary to Guilford’s primary mission of teaching and learning”. It was made clear that the committee believes with the current staffing and funding situation, the gallery should not continue after five year’s time if unable to financially prove itself in the coming years. To many, this announcement is surprising and upsetting.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware of the college’s financial state. I have watched as my tuition has grown and as campus jobs have been eliminated. The struggle I have been facing is how the non-financial benefits that come from the gallery are being greatly devalued in this report. Our art gallery plays a huge role in the lives of those tied to Guilford College. On any given day, the gallery is used by students as a quite place to reflect or to study. It is a place of inspiration for art students, or writers, or even those interested in the populations represented in the art on display at the time. The gallery has time and again attracted prospective students, like a younger version of myself, and patrons from the Greensboro area. It has been a home for the beautiful work of our talented professors, has showcased art from some of our students, and, like it is now, has held collections supported by our alumni. These are not statistics that can be backed by dollar signs, but are what make Guilford more than simply an institution, but a liberal arts college that prides itself on experiential learning. After reading the report, which I should add was in no way disparaging to the gallery, it is hard to say that no changes should be made. We as a community should find personal challenge in finding ways to keep our beloved space not just open but thriving for many years.
Start challenging yourself NOW by reading the report and leaving a comment below to start the conversation. Also, be sure to come to the open forum on the full APSA report on Wednesday, September 25 at 2:30pm in the Joseph M. Bryan Jr. Auditorium. If you cannot make it to the meeting, there is an opportunity to submit a written statement on behalf of any program through Friday, October 4th and should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.