S.O.S. The Good Ship VCFA is now without a captain !


On March 16th, 2010 VCFA announced that Jessica Lutz, Co-Founder and Director of the MFA in Visual Art program, is no longer on staff.

This event serves as a distress call to take collective action NOW.

Let our collective voices speak loud and clear. Hold the administration accountable for keeping the VCFA legacy alive!



MFA-V Mission Statement Petition

To:     Gary Moore, Academic Dean     Vermont College of Fine Arts
          Tom Greene, President                Vermont College of Fine Arts


Like you, as members of the MFA in Visual Art community, we are invested in the continued success of the program. 

However, the recent staffing change of the program director, along with your subsequent insistence that proof of VCFA commitment to pedagogy resides in newly created marketing materials, has resulted in our lack of confidence over your understanding of the program’s founding pedagogy of student-centered learning. 

Therefore, we are respectfully requesting that you incorporate the founding pedagogy into a mission statement for the MFA in Visual Art program, written in collaboration with faculty, and published by the first day of the next residency, July 30th, 2010.

69 comments:

  1. Craig Snyder, class of winter 2001. Alumni, Artist-Teacher, Critter, former Exhibitions Coordinator, Alumni Assistant.

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  2. Lori Wahl, Class of February 2008. Alumna.

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  3. Patricia Denys, Class of February 2003, Alumna

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  4. Jonathan Marrs, Class of August 2009, Alumni

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  5. Lynn Imperatore, Class of August 1999, Alumna, former Alumni Assistant & Artist-Teacher.

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  6. Michelle SalnaitisApril 8, 2010 at 1:14 AM

    Michelle Salnaitis, Class of February 2010, Alumna

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  7. Bob Mataranglo, Class of February 2002, Alumni.
    "When do we get to hear the Truth?"

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  8. MaryJo Rosania-Harvie, Class of February 2005, Alumna
    We just want to see your committed to the VCFA mission in writing!

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  9. Michelle HagewoodApril 8, 2010 at 5:20 AM

    Michelle Hagewood, Class of February 2009, Alumna

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  10. Brad Birchett, Class of August 2005, Alumna
    Having a clear and definitive mission statement is just good practice for all institutions but especially progressive arts institutions such as VCFA.

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  11. Olaitan Callender-Scott, Class of February 2009, Alumna

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  12. Claire Olson, Class of February 2005, Alumna

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  13. Blair Vaughn-Gruler, Class of February 2010, Alumna

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  14. Charles Accardi, Class of 2001, Alumna, Former Alumni Assistant
    This pedagogy exsists only because we believe in it.
    "Dean" and "President" are empty titles without vision.

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  15. Linda M. Smith
    Class of August 2008

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  16. Claire Pentecost, faculty 1997-2005

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  17. Barb Martin-Goldsand, Class of August 2009

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  18. Charmaine Felix-Meyer, MFA Feb 09

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. Amanda DillinghamApril 8, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    Amanda Dillingham, Class of August 2008, Alumna

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  21. damali abrams, class of August 2008

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  22. Charmaine Felix-Meyer. MFA Feb 09April 8, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    Charmaine Felix-Meyer, Los Angeles

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  23. Jaime Gustavson, class of August 2007
    La Grande, OR

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  24. Suzanne Fellows, Class of August 2009, Alumna

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  25. Betsy Walsh Class of August 2009, Alumna

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  26. While a written mission statement would have some effect on the situation..... It still seems odd that a program that was dedicated to intimacy as pedagogy would choose to just sweep this up in such a way. Aug/05

    Tony Dattilo.

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  27. Matt Page, August 2006
    Lexington KY

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  28. Joel Gerard LeVasseurApril 8, 2010 at 7:02 PM

    The founding pedagogy must be incorporated into an artist statement. I could never live without a credo that is true to my beliefs. JOËL GERARD LeVASSEUR, February 2004.

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  29. Joel Gerard LeVasseurApril 8, 2010 at 7:05 PM

    ...mission statement....

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  30. This is (was) a beautiful program and to switch out a long-term program director without student/alumni interaction is unthinkable. Even under the worst of conditions, a long-term past director would certainly at least be acknowledged, instead of being vanished from existence. The way this is being handled is NOT in the spirit of the program and the secrecy is strange at best. 2001

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  31. how come craig deletes any messages that do not support his viewpoint? Or does the sacred pedagogy only allow for one perspective?

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  32. Craig deletes items that are not civil.

    i have no problem with dissent, just keep it civil.

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  33. Kathy Couch, class of August 2010

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  34. Ned (John E.) Gray, MFA Vermont College of the Union Institute. In times of transition I believe it is imperative that those in control answer those who have concerns and an ongoing investment in the program. Jessica's apparently sudden departure with an accompanying lack of information about this change increases concern about this transition. For the health and future of the program it does not seem too much to ask that these questions be answered even if the concern has no basis.

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  35. I find it worrysome that Jessica, who loves and works so hard for the program - or did - was let go overnight. I know there are reasons and I trust somehow that this was an ardous decision that took a lot of time and thought. I am however concerned that the program cannot remain a strong, student-centered program without an individual such as her to run it. I urge you to take this matter seriously and to provide tangible proof that the program is making efforts to include students and faculty in terms of pegagody and the search for a new director. Thanks so much.

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  36. I posted a comment and am in support of having questions answered in this time of transition Ned Gray MFA Vermont College of the Union Institute Tucson Az., ngraycolor1@msn.com

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  37. Michael Conway, MFA-VA Class of Winter, 2001.

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  38. Gustavo Godoy, Los AngelesApril 9, 2010 at 5:41 AM

    Gustavo Godoy, Class of August 2005, Alumna

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  39. The silence around Jessica's departure is unsettling and destructive to the morale and loyalty of the alumni who loved her and the program. I am committed to seeing VCFA thrive and believe that having a clear mission, objectives and quality leadership that is closely aligned with these principles is imperative to the ongoing success and quality of the program. Marketing materials can(and often do) advertise anything— I am curious about what VCFA programming will deliver in the future? I believe that alumni must stand up, remain proactively involved to support and guide the program into it's future incarnation with the founding principles and the model of leadership that Jessica embodied in mind. Denise Karabinus Telang

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  40. I agree with most of the comments posted. I have always felt that Jessica embodied the heart of the VC program.

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  41. Alexandra BrochesApril 9, 2010 at 7:47 AM

    Alexandra Broches, Class of August 99, Alumna

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  42. Daren Young, Class of August 2008, Alumni
    Salt Lake City UT

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  43. David French class of 2010April 9, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    I purchaced a specific educational product! That product now has been altered without any notice. If I was an 1st or 2nd. sem. student I might consider a change in school. Who knows what way/style or direction the school will take? I wanted to be associated with a perticular direction. Why do people go to one school or another? This is a contractual break that i find reckless and insensitive to students.

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  44. Linda Ganus class of 2008April 9, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    Transparency is a good thing.

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  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  46. Alexandra RyckmanApril 9, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    Alexandra Ryckman, Class of August 2010.

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  47. Like everyone else, I am saddened by Jessica's departure. But also puzzled by this notion that she was a co-founder of the program. Where did that come from? She was hired as an administrative assistant shortly after the program started from what I remember.

    Class of August, 96

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  48. Alane Brodrick
    Class of August 2002

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  49. 2001--If everything is not "going to hell in a handbasket" then why the secrecy regarding the sudden change in directorship? Whatever happened, why not handle a change at the helm with responsibility, gratefulness and committment to the future? The "speculation and unsubstantiated rumor" has been CAUSED by the inept, sneaky, immature way in which the transition was handled and continues to BE handled. Jessic gave nearly 20 years to the program. She deserves better treatment than this. Anything but this.

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  50. Charles Accardi also said;
    I think what happened was wrong for a variety of reasons.

    1) It seems that it was done overnight
    2) Jessica's long term commitment to the program was not acknowledged
    3) The change was made without faculty or student input
    4) The change in directorship was and still has not been explained

    It was chicken-s--t. And immature AND basically the CAUSE for all of this "rumor and speculation"

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  51. I think what happened was wrong:

    1) it was done overnight
    2) jessica's long term service was not acknowledged
    3) the change was made without input
    4) the shift was and still has not been explained (I think a change in focus to an academic or working artist as director might not have been met with distain) It's the lack of explanation that is maddening and at its core against VCMFA founding principles of community interaction-- we need the social context with which this overnight decision was made!

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  52. One can only speculate as to what caused the severance of co-founder and director from this program. The motivation in these situations is usually money. Raising money in this program would probably mean raising enrollment. One can only hope that raising enrollment will not mean changing pedagogy or philosophy underlying the student-centered mission statement. Relaxing of standards would be another way to raise enrollment, but this would degrade, not only the college, but the degrees of all who have graduated from this fine and respected institution. This would be shortsighted and lead, ultimately, to its downfall.

    I really hope that the people who are ultimately making these decisions regarding the future of the program understand the contemporary VISUAL ART world and have the VISUAL ARTS as their priority. MD McMahon

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  53. xtine burrough, MFA-V, Class of August, 2001

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  54. Sherri Lisota MFA-VA Feb 2003April 10, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    “Art is a business, but it is also more in being one of the forces that defines our culture, which affects all of us. Or, though art may not change the world, it does contribute to social change... I therefore believe that it is my obligation as an artist to at least address these issues rather than succumb - at least not completely - to the desire that all of us have for success.
    - G. Roy Levin
    Founder, MFA -Visual Art

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  55. kristin Humbargar
    MFAV Aug 1999

    silence speaks louder than words.
    "unable to comment"

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  56. tania kupczak, mfa-v, feb 2002

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  57. Lisa Ulik, MFA-VA Aug 2010.

    As the VCFA in Visual Arts program transforms, it is my dearest hope that VCFA staff will strive to continue the profound pedagogy of social action which Roy and Jessica practiced and worked so hard to establish.

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  58. shaw osha class of February '09

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  59. This is an intimate program and the relationship of students, faculty, and the administration is key. I am very concerned that Jessica is no longer the director. The lack of transparency in how and why this all occurred leaves a vacuum of uncertainty. A mission statement could help remedy this. Molly Heron, class of 2011

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  60. timothy gaewsky, class of February '06

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  61. I posted a comment before but wanted to be sure my name was included.
    Thanks, Craig

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  62. Samantha Cofiño, MFA-VA 2005, alumna

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  63. Much love and support for Jessica
    Robert O'Connor, MFA-V August 2006

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  64. Polly Gaillard
    This transition is still upsetting especially before our graduation this summer. I don't think we have the same confidence that all will be okay without Jessica. Her confidence, support, loyalty, and passion for the students and program will be difficult to replace.
    August, 2010

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  65. Heather Park, MFA-V August 2009.

    Craig is right to insist that we all remain civil. I do not know what transpired to bring about the change in directorship, but I do know that in order for Jessica's legacy to continue and pervade every step of the program, we should all keep in mind her style of sincerity, grace and exquisite skills of moderation.

    While I wish that VCFA would remain always the same with Jessica leading the way, I want to have hope and faith that this next generation will foster just as many positive relationships and encouragement for the future of the VCFA, especially with thanks to Craig's efforts in this diretion.

    And finally, for anyone who thinks of Jessica as just some 'hired administrator', well you were not paying attention and did not experience the full breadth of the program.

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  66. clearly the administration is less than forthcoming with its intentions and misrepresents themselves accordingly. my guess is the these same administrators will never understand the depth of our program or the idea of the faculty-driven program. the buzz word of student-driven education is a big buzzword is higher education. as someone now in his 17th year of full-time college education i can tell you student have no idea how to educate themselves or what is good for them and i'm not surprised to see weak minded deans defending their under-understood decision making. we should be calling for the dean and president's dismissal from the program not trying to defend the program.

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  67. this whole situation has been quite unsettling. i chose VCFA specifically because of its ability and desire for students to individualize their research/art practice. i know that the president/dean say that the program will remain the same...i only hope that is the truth, yet given the level of silence surrounding jessica's abrupt "departure", I cannot help but wonder...
    renee couture, august 2010

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