Staff Editorial

In recent years, the physics department has expanded to offer better and better programs, placing Lawrence amongst an elite group of small schools with such offerings. Likewise, the chemistry department has made strides toward increased excellence, and the quality of the Conservatory is a continuous hallmark of Lawrence. We have many strong departments, and smaller departments are also well-respected. But it seems that there may be some overt discrepancies in departmental funding. Some programs are naturally more expensive to maintain, but even with that taken into consideration, certain financial issues seem unjustified.
Like the sciences, the studio art department requires extra materials and equipment for students to work with. Certainly there are many fine materials provided to students, but the situation is not analogous to the financial situation apparent in a lab class. First of all, art students are required to pay a materials fee, even in introductory classes. This is not the case in science classes. And while chemistry students are utilizing microscopes and spectrometers, ceramics students currently do not have a working kiln. Add to this the fact that the metals program was discontinued last year, and the situations begin to look even more unequal.
This is not to disparage the rich intellectual vibrancy the sciences lend to the Lawrence community and the wonderful opportunities they provide to students. The studio art department is not the same size as the science departments, and we wouldn’t necessarily want that to change, as the department has its own special character and attributes. But given that the art department is smaller, it should be easier to keep it well provided-for than it would be for a larger department. Art students pay just as much in tuition dollars as do science students, and they should be provided with an equally full curriculum. The fact that a department does not have as a high of a profile or include as many students as another department does not mean that its need should be considered less important. The strengths of every program at Lawrence are necessary to our institution’s overall excellence. Taking all of this into account, it is clear that the studio art department deserves more support and attention than it is getting.