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Arts enrollment sets new record

by Crystal Hill

This fall a record number of IU South Bend students are pursuing degrees through the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts. While campus enrollment rose almost nine percent over fall 2008 the number of students majoring in the arts increased more than 17%. Nearly 600 students at IU South Bend are majoring in Communication Arts, Music, New Media, Theatre and Dance, or Visual Arts.

The steady increase in arts students over the past several years has helped expand the school and the departments within. According to Jorge Muniz, Area Coordinator of Music, and Alec Hosterman, Area Coordinator for Communication Arts, the increase in students on campus has been evident. It “shows in the number of students walking around, taking part in activities, and using the cafeteria,” said Hosterman.

New degree offerings are part of the attraction for students. A Bachelor of Fine Arts in New Media added in 2008 prepares students for jobs in digital media and arts. The addition of the Bachelor of Music Education and the Bachelor of Arts in Music this fall allows students to remain in South Bend to attain their educational goals rather than having to leave the area.

The Communication Arts program has also expanded to meet course demands. Communication Arts majors have multiplied. This has added “additional advising work on our faculty,” Hosterman said. “An increase in the number of majors shows us that we are doing something right in the classrooms and the word is getting out there.”

Music is working to meet the demands of an expanding student body. “We just opened a new piano lab with double the capacity of the previous one,” said Muniz. “Continuing this type of effort will allow us to accommodate an increase in the number of students, both majors and also around campus.” 

Growth at the School of the Arts is not limited to the increase in arts majors. Students from across the university fulfill many of their general education requirements with arts courses. Muniz said the general education music courses reached enrollment limits so new sections were opened. “We have also created new topics for the current courses, trying to increase the demand for music courses in non-majors,” said Muniz. Hosterman concurs,“We had to open a few more public speaking sessions at the last minute for this fall." 

The rise in student enrollment may be temporary or permanent, but each arts discipline is preparing for upcoming semesters as usual. “Right now we are preparing for spring by adding more sections of core classes,” said Hosterman. “Every semester is a wait-and-see game.”