Jeannie Hulen, Interim Director
In her current role, Hulen has been instrumental in establishing the School of Art, made possible by a visionary gift from the Walton Family Charitable Foundation in fall 2017. The $120 million gift is the largest ever given to a U.S. university in support of or to establish a school of art. The gift also created the first and only school of art in the state of Arkansas, and will propel art education and research in the state forward while also providing unparalleled access and opportunity to students.
As a ceramics and multimedia sculptor, Hulen’s installation work examines issues related to the body, globalism and personal narrative. In addition to her artwork, Hulen is currently pursuing a collaborative research project with ceramics colleagues at Kwame Nkrumah Institute of Science and Technology (KNUST) in, Kumasi, Ghana. This project deals with the sourcing, analysis and employment of ceramics raw materials.
Hulen has held solo exhibitions in Taiwan, as well as in U.S. cities including Houston, TX, Grand Rapids, MI, Utica, NY, Kansas City, MO, Providence RI, and Fayetteville, AR. She has also taken part in exhibitions held in conjunction with the National Council for the Education of Ceramic Arts from 2007-2016, she was a visiting resident artist in Taiwan National University of the Arts in 2009, and she was a visiting artist and lecturer at KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana during the summer of 2016.
During Hulen’s time as chair of the Department of Art, the program has grown exponentially with significant positive changes and transformation occurring under her leadership. The department as a whole has contemporized through the institution of a progressive and innovative studio foundations program, as well as key advancements to the B.A. and M.F.A. programs. Another recent program improvement was the addition of a B.F.A. in graphic design.
Hulen focused the direction of the department with the help of the art faculty, the university, the community, and donors in the region. There has been a significant increase in student enrollment in recent years, with current enrollment at 400 majors. While 48 art degrees were awarded in 2010, by 2016 the amount nearly doubled to 75 undergraduate degrees issued. Additionally, M.F.A. student enrollment has more than doubled, increasing from 10 to 24 students, all of whom are awarded funding. Faculty tenure-track position lines also rose from 10 to 17, and instructor faculty positions from eight to 23. Hulen has supervised an increase in facilities from two locations to six, (three being temporary space), and has overseen detailed plans for long-term, permanent, state- of-the-art facilities. During Hulen’s time as chair, the overall departmental budget increased from $1.1 million to $2.6 million. Plans are in place for future development significantly increasing program funding at all levels.
All of this success directly impacted the department’s ability to rise to the level of a school, which is now well-positioned to become a center of excellence in art education, art history, graphic design and studio art curriculum.
Another of Hulen’s most significant accomplishments as chair was the School of Art’s recent success in becoming a fully-accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), joining the ranks of 359 accredited institutions of higher learning, of which only 59 are public institutions of our size (200-400 art majors). This is the culmination of five years of intense work by the entire art faculty and staff.
Another major accomplishment was the Windgate Charitable Foundation’s gift of $2,064,000, supporting equipment, a capital project and student travel. This was the largest gift ever given to the department and is representative of the strong relationships being built with the private and non-profit sectors in the region.
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