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The revised mission statement is more than a reflection of who we are as a college. It underscores the areas that demand our attention as we move forward. The five principles of our mission statement provide a framework by which to structure the abundance of new and exciting ideas that we encountered in our interviews with the SVA community; a starting point for an ongoing dialogue that must continue throughout the college; and a guide to ensure that we are staying on track toward becoming the best version of who we already are. 

Principally, we aim to cultivate an ongoing community-wide conversation that continues throughout the life of this plan and beyond. Over the course of this year, several working groups will convene to address particular areas of focus, culminating in the composition of six sub-plans proposed throughout this section. The implementation, ongoing assessment and regular amendment of the strategic plan and its sub-plans will be overseen by a Futures Committee, composed primarily of the chairs of each working group. This group will review our progress and adjust our goals accordingly, and apprise the SVA community annually of their work. 

These efforts toward increased cross-institutional dialogue and collaboration extend beyond the sub-plans as well. In addition to the working groups charged with composing the sub-plans enumerated below, the plan calls for a network of standing committees to meet regularly to discuss, ask questions and share insights around subjects of shared concern to each group. By creating spaces for ongoing dialogue across the institution, the strategic plan itself will be a living document, a functional though nonrestrictive roadmap subject to continuous consideration and review. 

1. INSTILLING A STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE IN OUR STUDENTS THROUGH A DYNAMIC AND FOCUSED CURRICULUM

DYNAMIC AND FOCUSED CURRICULUM 

Our curriculum is at the heart of our mission and we have long prided ourselves on our ability to adapt quickly and stay ahead of developments in the creative disciplines. That nimbleness must be sustained as we grow, while finding more opportunities for the sharing of good ideas across the institution. We propose: 

Establishing the BFA Animation department with a separate chair, and moving the program to the West Side to be in proximity with the Computer Arts programs 

Expanding online course offerings, with a particular focus on undergraduate humanities and sciences courses 

  • Establishing discipline-based working groups for ongoing exchange on developments in their field, sharing and collaborating on new ideas, and advising the President and Provost; 
  • Developing a coordinated system of learning outcomes at the course and program level to ensure consistency, clarity and effectiveness 
  • Facilitating increased collaboration between Continuing Education and the degree programs to offer courses addressing supplemental/remedial skills 
  • Considering new courses and degree offerings, including an MBA in Design Management; an M.Arch program; BFA offerings in product design and toys and games; the potential for dual degree programs linking VCS and Curatorial Practice; and additions to the H&S curriculum 
  • Developing pathways for BFA students to take graduate-level classes for credit 
  • Forming possible science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) partnerships with other institutions
  • Continuing the library’s shift in focus from collections to services in support of the curriculum, requiring physical and digital space upgrades; including cataloging all departmental library holdings in the central library database 

CURRICULUM SUB-PLAN 

Some of these goals demand more centralized coordination among numerous departments. The Curriculum Working Group will determine the means by which we restructure the Foundation program to more effectively address the distinct needs of each BFA major department; evaluate the current Humanities and Sciences curriculum (including considering the inclusion of coding, brain science/psychology, big data, data science, engineering, and ethics) and develop substantial online H&S course offerings; review our online learning strategy; and review the current graduate program configuration and consider stacking approaches. Any potential new programs will also be evaluated by this group through a standardized process. 


STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE 

We demand excellence from our students, and hold ourselves to the same standard. This means continuing our efforts to recruit exceptional candidates for our student body while retaining this exceptional student body by optimizing and integrating support services designed to promote student success and minimizing obstacles to student achievement. This includes: 

  • Improving the hand-off from Admissions to Academic Advisors as the primary and consistent point of contact for ongoing one-on-one engagement throughout the students’ time at SVA 
  • Refocusing and refining the academic advisement system by raising the visibility of academic advisors in the community; empowering advisors to operate broadly as the primary touchpoint for students; formalizing a training and shadowing period for new advisors; converting processes to fully paperless system; and establishing regular meetings as a group and with other administrators and faculty 
  • Reconsidering transfer credit policies to ease the pathway for transfer students and experienced workers re-entering education 
  • Creating a parent portal (including translations for parents of international students) to offer information tailored to parental concerns 
  • Increasing cultural orientation support for international students 
  • Increasing support/coordination services for off-campus housing for international students; dedicated graduate housing
  • Promoting a greater awareness of the Academic Integrity Policy and Code of Conduct through an ongoing college-wide discussion of the ethical and moral standards we expect of all members of the SVA community 
  • Establishing a task force on marketing and enrollment management; embarking on a marketing campaign that highlights and burnishes our academic reputation.

STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES AND SUCCESS SUB-PLAN 

The Student Services Working Group will ensure that the same individualized attention that applicants receive during the recruitment process continues throughout a student’s time at SVA. This group will evaluate our transfer credit policies to maximize opportunity and review the academic advisement processes, including the implementation of updated digital services, to give advisors the ability to develop an engaged, collaborative partnership with each of their advisees. The group will also address best practices to bridge communication among Financial Aid, Housing, Health and Counseling, and Academic Advisement to enable the College to best assist students in contemplation of withdrawal and find solutions to ensure greater student success. 

2. MAINTAINING AND SUSTAINING A FACULTY OF WORKING PROFESSIONALS ACTIVE IN THEIR FIELDS

FACULTY OF WORKING PROFESSIONALS 

Our faculty remains our greatest asset at SVA. We will continue to attract and retain a faculty of accomplished practitioners by preserving our flat organizational structure and streamlining administrative responsibilities while simultaneously building up our faculty support and development. As the educational landscape becomes increasingly complex, it is the responsibility of the College to provide our faculty with practical information and pedagogical development opportunities. While we must not overburden our adjunct faculty, and must respect their outside professional commitments, it is critical that they be included in the conversation as their insight and experience are enormously valuable. Proposed initiatives include: 

  • Providing ongoing faculty development programming, in the form of workshops and online materials, as well as expanded required training for new faculty 
  • Establishing formal emeritus programs for long-serving faculty and chairs to ensure their continued connection to the institution
  • Creating more opportunities for faculty feedback and participation (end of term evaluations; representation in working groups) 
  • Supporting faculty presence throughout the institution—including appointing paid faculty advisors to selected student organizations and clubs 
  • Developing a faculty commons 
3. RECRUITING AND SUPPORTING A FULLY INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY OF STUDENTS, FACULTY, STAFF AND ALUMNI

RECRUITING AND ADMISSIONS 

Access to the SVA community necessarily begins with admissions and recruitment. We plan to expand and enhance the student community through the following initiatives: 

  • Continuing our targeted approach to recruitment of highly qualified domestic freshman 
  • Exploring new global markets, further diversifying international student population 
  • Increasing funding for scholarship opportunities for New York City high school students 
  • Reviewing the transfer credit policy 
  • Developing a collective and centralized strategy for graduate program recruiting and marketing 


DEVELOPING AN INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY 

Diversity and inclusion is a core principle of the College. SVA enjoys a student body that represents a significant number of historically underrepresented communities, ethnic and religious backgrounds, gender identities, diverse abilities, and foreign countries. However, the mere presence of a diverse student body is no accomplishment if those students do not feel fully included in the classroom and community at large. Therefore, we plan to place a major emphasis on the following measures over the next five years: 

  • Initiatives to expand diverse representation on the faculty 
  • Initiatives to ensure that the curriculum includes historically underrepresented communities and global perspectives 
  • Initiatives to encourage a range of pedagogical approaches that accommodate diverse learning abilities 
  • Initiatives to reduce cost of attendance and methods for creating access for more low-income students
  • Faculty diversity and inclusion training, as well as regular Safe Zone and Social Justice workshops and events open to the full community 
  • Disability accessibility audit of the SVA campus 
  • Reviewing and augmenting Grad Level ESL and cultural literacy offerings 
  • Offering an English language and acculturation pre-program for graduate students 
  • Developing online resources for international students and faculty teaching international students 
  • The appointment of an Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator to oversee the above and liaise with the Student Affairs team to develop additional support services 

DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION SUB-PLAN 

The demands on this Working Group are vast in scope. The plan will address diversity, equity and inclusion broadly throughout the institution, as well as focusing specifically on initiatives and proposals relating to the needs of our significant international/ESL students. Beyond the immediate goal of composing this sub-plan, the working group will continue to meet regularly to foster an atmosphere of openness and maintain an ongoing discussion throughout the SVA community on diversity, inclusivity, equity and belonging. 


CAMPUS IMPROVEMENT AND COMMUNITY ACCESS 

The spaces that our community occupies, both physical and digital, are fundamental to our ability to cultivate dialogue and interaction. Our priority over the next five years will be the creation of shared spaces that encourage interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration in both a formal academic setting and through an informal social exchange of ideas. Initiatives include: 

  • A fabrication lab accessible to all undergraduate students on par with the VFL 
  • Additional lounge/work/dining spaces open to all members of the SVA community 
  • Renovation of 209 lobby, raising it to a standard warranted by our flagship building 
  • Acquisition of additional 50–100k sq. ft. for classrooms and studios 
  • Additional street level gallery space

SPACE PLANNING SUB-PLAN 

The constraints of the New York City real estate market impose severe limitations on our goals for the campus. The Space Planning Working Group will produce a plan to ensure that we are prepared to act decisively when appropriate opportunities present themselves. The plan will identify and prioritize additional space needs for the campus and determine ideal location, neighborhoods and characteristics for each. Central to the plan will be the goal of co-locating kindred programs to the extent possible (for instance, moving BFA Animation to West 21st Street, alongside the Computer Arts programs). 


CONTINUITY OF OPERATIONS SUB-PLAN 

The Emergency Management Committee will be responsible for an updated continuity of operations plan, now underway, that addresses physical relocation of academic and administrative operations in the case of catastrophic events, including potential reciprocity agreements for contingency space. 

4. ENCOURAGING DISCOVERY, EXPERIMENTATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF BOLD CONCEPTS THAT CHALLENGE CONVENTIONS

EXPERIMENTATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP 

As the practices of art and design continue to evolve, so too must the pathways available to our students to experiment, fail, innovate and ultimately realize their unique creative visions. We will continue to invest in physical and virtual spaces for experimentation, collaboration, and fabrication and dismantle obstacles to interdisciplinary study at SVA and abroad. Project-based and client-based projects – both in and out of the classroom –allow interdepartmental interaction to flourish. Toward these goals we plan on: 

  • Building a Maker Space available for use by all undergraduate students 
  • Developing opportunities for project-based and client-based interdisciplinary learning, beginning with a pilot “Design Clinic” program housed within the Visual Arts Press for supervised student work both paid and pro-bono 
  • Removing barriers to interdisciplinary study, including conceiving a new department fee system and developing a shared animation and computer art foundation year to facilitate ease of transfer between the two programs 
  • Increasing support for interdepartmental graduate symposia 
  • Reducing constraints on opportunities to study abroad 
  • Further developing our incubator and founder labs ventures

SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT AND CITIZENSHIP 

Milton Glaser encourages his students to ask at the beginning of any project: “Will this do harm?” Whatever answer the student comes to, this acknowledgement of the existence of the ethical question and consciousness of the potential social meaning and impact of the work, is an essential stage of the creative process at SVA. We aim to develop students’ sense of civic engagement through a more structured emphasis within the curriculum, as well as in students’ lives outside of the classroom. 

  • “Writing Across the Curriculum”: Required cross-cohort 1st and 3rd year humanities course on key issues in contemporary society, civic engagement and social innovation for all BFA students 
  • Developing shared lecture series for all graduate students on ethics and civic engagement 
  • Considering creation of Civic Engagement and the Arts concentration 
  • Student Clubs and Activities: reassessing funding policies to allocate financial support based on the relative degree of activity and community impact; encouraging and structuring faculty advisement; encouraging club leadership to draft policies/bylaws for clubs; considering methods to increase club participation/make more accessible to commuter students 
  • Increasing engagement and collaboration with peer institutions globally in service of social impact 
5. ENGAGING WITH AND CONTRIBUTING TO THE VIBRANT CULTURAL AND PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPE OF NEW YORK CITY

ALUMNI AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 

The SVA community extends beyond graduation, as the substantial number of alumni on our faculty can attest. Many alumni who stay in the New York City area remain a vital part of the conversation in other capacities as well. Our alumni community continues to grow and expand beyond the city and we must find new means by which to cultivate these relationships with both local and international alumni. 

  • Increasing capacity of Career Development and Alumni Affairs Offices to provide counseling, education, and workshops to enrolled students, and lifelong career services support to alumni; and begin to plan for expanded development and advancement responsibilities following eventual transition to non-profit status 
  • Empowering Alumni Affairs to facilitate and coordinate increased alumni involvement and mentoring of future generations of SVA students
  • Engaging faculty in alumni outreach, develop shared resource for faculty to contribute information to 
  • Working with International Outreach office to maintain and enhance ongoing contact with alumni who have returned to countries of origin 
  • Sponsoring alumni weekend and regular networking events to keep alumni connected to the College and to each other 
  • Cultivating a tradition of alumni giving founded on the principal of ongoing responsibility to the community and subsequent generations of SVA students 

STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT 

Our relationship with the community outside our doors is by no means limited to our alumni. Our College is a community within the larger community of New York City and within the global community. We have an obligation to the New York City community and beyond. Key areas of focus will include: 

  • Strategic Partnerships; collaborating with peer institutions and arts organizations locally and globally 
  • Expanding the range of institutional memberships to include smaller, more diverse organizations 
  • Developing initiatives that promote SVA as a content platform coordinated between the Office of Communication, the Visual Arts Press, Academic Affairs, and the Office of Learning Technologies 
  • Reassessing the goals and structure of our continuing education programming 
  • Fostering greater community engagement with the SVA Galleries through a variety of initiatives including an updated exhibition calendar; collaboration with departments, Academic Affairs, and the SVA Archives to encourage greater use by faculty of the galleries as a pedagogical tool; consider creation of a substantial street-level gallery space located centrally to campus 

DEVELOPMENT AND ADVANCEMENT SUB-PLAN 

This sub-plan will consider how our needs as an institution will change once the College transitions to 501(c)(3) status, and what measures we can begin to take to ensure our sustainability and continuity in advance of the formal change. It will take many years beyond the life of this strategic plan to see the returns of a fully functional endowment; but the benefits of such efforts are imperative to our long-term ability to provide access to exceptional students regardless of their socioeconomic status. If being the best means cultivating citizens through a robust community dialogue, it is imperative that we build more pathways to access that conversation.

School of Visual Arts | 209 East 23 Street, NY, NY 10010-3994 | Tel: 212.592.2000 | Fax: 212.725.3587