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New name reflects dynamic arts programs

March 19, 2007

Dean Kwang-Wu Kim wants to change the old perception that fine arts colleges are static institutions where the elite work from inflexible educational models, so he is renaming the Herberger College of Fine Arts the Herberger College of the Arts.

“The historic definition of fine arts does not include the majority of the teaching, creative and scholarly activity in the Herberger College of the Arts,” says Kim, who joined the college as dean in August 2006. “It suggests a rigidity in attitudes, which is uncharacteristic of our faculty and students.”

Historically, the term “fine arts” refers the disciplines of painting, drawing, sculpture, music and architecture. The term came into acceptance in 1875 with the founding of the French Académie des Beaux Arts (Academy of the Fine Arts) in Paris, which taught only these disciplines.

“Our goal is to remove unnecessary dividing lines between traditional artistic disciplines and related disciplines,” says Kim, who has successfully melded traditional and non-traditional art forms in past leadership roles. “The name ‘Herberger College of the Arts’ signals our intention to the world and gives us the appropriate conceptual space in which to pursue our work.”

The college will retain its successful core traditions in art, music, dance and theatre, complemented by newer initiatives such as film production and the Arts, Media and Engineering Program. Encouraging collaboration across disciplines appeals to new generations of artists and prepares future workers of the creative class.

“The future of the Herberger College of the Arts includes continued exploration of digital media, new interactive models for the arts and the study of community engagement,” says Kim.

Kim has a history of fostering changes that impact the quality of arts education and community opportunities. In his past work, Kim brought classical music to community youth through outreach programs that helped children understand that music not only is accessible, it can be healing. His first major coup for ASU came on Feb. 26, when the Bank of America announced a $1 million gift to the college’s pioneering ArtsWork program for underserved youth in the Phoenix Metro Area. It was the bank’s first major gift to ASU in seven years.

Under Kim’s direction, the college currently is conducting national searches for new innovative leaders in its schools of art and music, and its department of dance. Kim expects these new leaders to affect the future vision and direction of the college.

While the challenges of leading arts education into the 21st century can be daunting, Kim says he inspired by the possibilities at Herberger College of the Arts. “As an integral part of the New American University, the college is committed to adapting higher education models to the realities of the world around us.”

Founded in 1964, Herberger College comprises four nationally ranked academic units: School of Music, School of Art, Department of Dance and School of Theatre and Film, plus the Arts, Media and Engineering Program and the ASU Art Museum. Nearly 2,600 students attend the college, which has 170 faculty and 150 staff. Since 2004, 25 National Merit Scholars and 13 National Hispanic Scholars have chosen the Herberger College as their place of study. To learn more about the college, visit

Denise Tanguay,