By Katarina Ivancik
This past June, Jacqueline Leary-Warsaw was appointed as dean of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, Art after a dramatic process of academic renewal in spring 2018.
One month into the academic year, Leary-Warsaw is currently overseeing the new and exciting collaborations between the departments. An example is the upcoming “Piano and Art” concert featuring a joint effort between the Music and Art departments. This kind of cooperation between the various arts departments is one of the new dean’s goals; she describes this type of interdisciplinary education environment as “an educational plan for the 21st century”. As a champion for the arts, Leary-Warsaw believes that the decision to combine the music, drama, and art departments into one school allows them to become a force within the university community. Individually they were easily lost among the many other programs offered at the Catholic University of America, but together they form a united front that represents the university’s “recommitment to the arts”, said Leary-Warsaw.
In past years, funds have been poured into various other programs, but the arts have been sadly neglected. Now, scholarships, new collaborative courses, additional faculty members and plans for an on-campus performance center are potential future results of the new department combination. High school students looking at the School of Music, Drama, and Art will be given new opportunities by Leary-Warsaw’s forward thinking leadership style.
Last spring Provost Andrew Abela announced that there was a pending decision to combine the Schools of Music, Drama, and Art. When the decision was finalized in June 2018 by the University’s Board of Trustees, it was received with some controversy. Concerns were expressed over potential changes in degree names, and faculty members being let go. As soon as news of the new dean spread, students volunteered their opinions, hopes and concerns on the new dean and the new school. Several students from the various departments expressed their desire to be more collaborative, expand and be more visible on campus..
“I think combining the departments into one school puts a better emphasis on the importance of the arts, not only in the University, but in the Catholic Church,” said Natalie Minter, a sophomore musical theatre major.