University of Michigan. School of Art & Design

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The origins of the School of Art can be traced back to classes taught in design by Emil Lorch in 1906 in the Department of Architecture. Thereafter, classes were added in drawing, with an emphasis on naturalism, followed by courses in painting. Originally, classes in art were aimed at students majoring in architecture, but as time passed, more and more non-architecture students enrolled in the various classes. In 1926, a program in decorative arts was housed in the College of Engineering and Architecture. After a faculty member conducted a survey in 1939 of art instruction at other universities, "the former emphasis on academic theory gave way to a more direct and creative approach in the content, method, and objectives of courses and their sequences; this was reflected in the appointment of new staff members with a more modern realistic point of view." ( Encyclopedic Survey , Volume III, p. 1309) Classes in sculpture were added in 1949. In 1954, the differences in the teaching of art and architecture were formally acknowledged when art received departmental status in the College of Architecture and Design.

The post-World War II boom in students led to a doubling in size of the art faculty between 1954 and 1960. The Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees were established in 1959, and a program in Medical and Biological Illustration in 1964. Areas of concentration grew to include painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, ceramics, weaving and fabric design, and jewelry and metalwork. The steadily increasing number of students resulted in a shortage of physical facilities, which eventually led to the construction of a new building to house both art and architecture on the university's North Campus. In 1974, the Department of Art became the School of Art, and, along with the College of Architecture and Design, moved into the new building.

The School of Art faced its most serious crisis in 1982. As part of budget reducing measures in response to the financial crisis it faced, the university chose the schools of art, education, and natural resources to be reviewed for continuation or discontinuation. All three schools were continued, but with significant budget reductions. The School of Art budget was reduced by 18 percent.

The school was renamed the School of Art & Design in 1996, to better reflect the scope of the work. Its mission is to "educate and train artists and designers, to inform and influence others through the creation and dissemination of original ideas and visual work, and to provide a research environment that supports collaboration, integration of emerging technologies, and intellectual, and visual inquiry of the highest quality." ( The graduate level interdisciplinary program in medical and biological illustration was one of only five in the nation accredited by the American Medical Association.

  • 1974 - May 31, 1984 : George V. Bayliss
  • July 1, 1984 - December 31, 1985 : Wendel W. Heers (acting)
  • January 1, 1986 - August 31, 1991 : Marjorie Levy
  • September 1, 1991 - 1993 : John H. Stephenson (acting)
  • July 1, 1993 - 1999 : Allen J. Samuels
  • 1999 - : Bryan Rogers

From the guide to the School of Art & Design (University of Michigan) records, 1947-2006, 1947-2010, 1981-1999, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)

Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
Michigan--Ann Arbor
Protest movements
Student movements--Michigan--Ann Arbor
Student movements

Corporate Body

Active 1947

Active 1999



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SNAC ID: 53822547