Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Official End of CVA

Back in January, I posted about giving a speech to current College of Visual Arts students once they learned that CVA was going to be closing. Then a week later, I posted about "Save CVA" and some great shirts that an alumni was making. Shortly after that, a group called "CVA Action" was formed to help try to stop the closure of the school and to raise money to keep The College open.

"CVA Action" Rally at CVA 2 weeks ago.

Many of us were optimistic.

Realistically, the numbers were staggering: CVA Action needed to raise about 3 million dollars in a few weeks. They had a plan in place to not have CVA open for the 2013-14 school year (because current students have found other schools and there was no recruiting being the school was planning to close), but then to open back up as a smaller institution in the fall of 2014. After a few weeks of collecting money and asking for donations, CVA Action still hadn't quite hit the $100,000 mark. That's an AMAZING amount of money to have raised in such a short period of time for a small school, but it wasn't enough. Last week, the board of trustees for CVA announced that it was no longer possible to save the school, and CVA Action came out with this statement:

Sad News

Sad news from the last night’s Board of Trustees Meeting: The College of Visual Arts Board of Trustees reaffirmed last night that CVA will be closed at the end of this school year. They took a look at our plan, decided that if we could raise $3 million dollars in two weeks they might be willing to put a couple of CVA Action people on the board and try to open again in a year. CVA Action was formed to keep CVA open.

The Board of Trustees asked us to take part in closing the school, and we cannot do that. We voted unanimously to reject the trustees’ offer. We are heartbroken and angry. We feel that this did not have to happen this way, had the Board of Trustees and school administration had told us of the dire financial situation last Fall. But that’s not the hand we were dealt.

The student response was awesome. The work the students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends did was hugely effective. In the past two weeks you reached out into the community and you found support. You showed true creativity. If we had seen that from the administration and the trustees a year or six months ago, we might have been celebrating tonight. We do have things to celebrate. The students and graduates of the College of Visual Arts are making a difference in the world. Whether it is making beautiful art, founding the digital communications division of a major advertising agency, teaching or any of the other things our fellow alumni are doing, the school has a wonderful legacy to celebrate.

Painting by Eugène Delacroix, modified by Keri Huber

I'm not going to air my dirty laundry here - if you want to know what I think happened at CVA, you'll have to talk to me in person. It seems it was not only because of declining enrollment and rising costs. I feel much the same as many of the other full-time faculty members at the school. But now that's hardly here nor there.

Photo from Michelle Stolz (current CVA student and former student of mine).

It's been amazing to watch my students in these final few weeks at CVA. They're all taken care of and are (mostly) either entering MCAD through a "teach out" agreement, or they've applied and been accepted at a different school. Lately, their shift as been to us as their professors: "So Steve, what are YOU doing after CVA?" My answer is much like many others: I don't know. (I've applied for a few other teaching positions in the Metro area, but I'm still waiting to hear back.) They're so concerned for all of us. They're actually throwing a faculty and staff appreciation party for us later tonight. How sweet.

They're also coming together in other "fun" ways. This past weekend was the final "CVA Prom." I had to miss this event, but it looked fantastic. It was put together by students who held a drawing rally to raise money for it, and it was just the kind of thing you'll find CVA students doing - finding ways to get things done.

Pre-prom photo by Maria Cameron.

Photo by Maria Santiago.

Photo by Maria Santiago.

Photo by Maria Santiago.

To my knowledge, the only other CVA Prom was back when I was a student in the early 2000s. We made a "CVA Beefcake Calendar" with the men of CVA. (I have vehemently denied the existence of this calendar to current students until this very moment.) We sold copies, had a "meet the beefcakes calendar signing party," and made around $500 to rent a dance hall, purchase kegs, hire a rent-a-cop, and "live it up" for the night.

The marquee originally said "CVA PROM," but we changed it.

Two of my all-time top-10 favorite CVA people.

Paul always had a way with the ladies.

Lookin' good, fellas.

Moose and my fiancée.

My fiancée being kissed by my soon-to-be best man.

Marcy, my official CVA date. And I forgot that I wore THAT. (That entire outfit cost me $8.)

This sums up our prom perfectly.

Of course there have been other CVA dances and events, but what set these 2 proms off from others is that they were totally student-driven. Ten years ago, the school "officially" had nothing to do with the Prom. We just all got together for good time. That's the joy of CVA - this school has taught students how to make things happen.

It's going to be an interesting final few weeks at CVA. This is uncharted territory for many of us. Wish us all luck. (But chances are, if you're a typical hard-working, motivated, resourceful CVA student or graduate, you won't need "luck.")


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