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Closing metal jewelry program

Dear members, I teach metals/jewelry at Lawrence University. This
university has decided to close the metals/jewelry program. I was
not included in on the decisions/discussions to do so as I am a
visiting assistant professor. We have a very small department.
There are three fulltime instructors, a painting/printmaking
instructor, a sculpture instructor and myself, I teach
metals/jewelry and ceramics. The chair of the department is an art
history professor who is happy if everything runs smoothly and he
doesn’t hear anything. All the studio professors are new. Myself
and the sculptor just finished our first year and the 2-do guy just
finished his second. The two guys are tenure track. the 2-2-d guys
fiance just received here mfa and can teach ceramics but not
metals/jewelry–hmmmm. The sculptor lusts after the metals space.
Thus, with there heads together they have convinced the school that
metals/jewelry is too demanding for a small school atmosphere - and
furthermore it is not art. Now, I have not been officially told
that these are the reasons but it seems quite clear.

I am probably giving you too much The reason I am
posting this is because I wish to write to the school in defense of
the program but -as you can see - I am not great with words. It
breaks my heart to see this program dissolved. My classes are
overfilled, the students will be losing out. The school will be
losing out.

Some time ago another ganoksin member was in this situation and
posted regarding her situation. I have been trying to find those
posts because maybe reading them will help me to write my letter. I
cannot remember the subject line so I have not been able to find
them. Does anyone remember those posts and if so could you help me
find them.

Thanks so much you guys are always so helpful. The current
art/craft/wax/fabrication discussions have been so upsetting. We
must support each other because many are so ready to discount our

Verna Holland

Dear Verna, I am not familiar with the particular posts you
referred to, but I do recall a similar situation which occurred some
years ago at San Diego State University when it was decided to phase
out the enameling program. The entire membership of the Enamelist
Society wrote letters in support of the program. I don’t recall
whether or not they were successful. However, taking a clue from them
makes we wonder if you could enlist the aid of SNAG. I certainly hope
that the University will reconsider closing the metals/jewelry
program, and I wish you good luck in your efforts to keep this
worthwhile program going.


Dear Verna,

What a sad letter indeed to read with my morning coffee. Another
academic metals program closing is an ominous portend of the future
and a disturbing trend.

I am forwarding your letter to Dana Singer, Executive Director of
SNAG, and Ken Bova, President. There is an established group of
educators within SNAG which will assist you. You might be speaking
of Mary Lee Hu, of University of Washington. I will forward your
letter to her as well.

Good luck and thanks for bringing this to our attention.


Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio

Hello Verna,

I have some experience with university faculty politics. Around
here if students express their support, nay DEMAND, for a class, it
is given full consideration. When classes are full to overfull, the
administration can hardly deny the need. Even more attention is
paid to alums who point to a program as contributing to their
professional success.

You don’t say how long a metals program has been in the dept. If
it’s long-standing, what about support from the previous metals
prof?? Are there alums to speak in favor? You need many voices to
speak, not just your own.

For your own part, get your statistics (a record of class numbers)
together, and calculate how that translates into tuition dollars.
Let the students in on the decision to close the program, and ask
them if they like it. Hopefully a few students will spearhead a
support effort that is taken to administration - and I don’t mean the
Dept. head. - I mean the Dean and President. If your Dept. head is
into avoidance, the students’ determination to go over his/her head
might be an incentive to reconsider dismantling the metals program.
Compose your letter stating all the positives and have someone
(preferrably one who’s been around the university for a while) from
the English Dept. review and edit it.

Another strategy: try to shift from a turf battle within, to a
unified art dept. faculty working for additional space/faculty member
for the Dept. One thing - check the faculty handbook regarding
nepotism. Your concern about the fiance’ may be unfounded if it
prohibits nepotism within departments.

I’d also get my resume polished up and work on the ol’ portfolio…
just in case. Looking at the big picture from the outside, you’re
not tenure track and that’s a disadvantage.

Best of luck and I hope the metals program can be retrieved,

Judy in Kansas, where the days are still very warm, but the nights are
distinctly fall-like!

Hi all ! and Verna Holland

Up here in Toronto I am having the very same problem. I was and
maybe still am a Gem Setting teacher for Intermediate and Advanced
stone setting for over 3+ years. This semester and this class is put
on hold or stopped…why? glad you asked…the CEO has bumped up
its enrolment fees from a basic $400.00 to over $750.00 for a 20
week session…plus new tools which the student has to shell out.
Many of my students were hobbyists or beginners in this wonderful
trade. They were so interested in learning this field of endeavour
from me. I had to start my evening on my own time, one hour earlier.
Some of my gang came from their homes, 2 hours away and drive back
that same night.

My class 3 years ago started with only 4 women and last semester it
blossomed up to over 22 for the opening class. I requested a lower
enrolment to maybe 15 for this one-on-one training. The CEO said
"sure we will but we might have to raise the fee" to maybe $550.00
tops. I said thats a better fee. but no, the new fee is $750.00 NO
ONE ENROLLED! and my own version of Gem Setting 3 based on Bead
Raising is totally cancelled ! Not too mention that the only CAD-CAM
course ever taught is also cancelled…My jewellery friends on
another network all have cad-cam in their American stores or
workshops. This school has bought so much in this revolutionary
system but its going now unused, they are charging the moon. I am to
have a closed-door meeting this week. I will talk from my belt. The
students are loosing, “penny-wise and a dollar foolish”…the
jewellery arts student will not finish their 4 year course, because
they cannot afford these ridiculous prices !..Gerry!


Karen Kristians was writing in the Orchid I just received. about a
class closing Sorry to learn another class has been closed and
especially in the light of the fact that this is the third I have
heard about. I suppose this is OK if there are too few students for
it to be worth what it cost to run these classes, but one has to
wonder if this might be a management ploy in order to cut costs so
they can spend the money on something else. Once upon a time the
slogan was ‘the customer is always right;’ in other words the focus
was upon customers needs (students in this case). But modern
corporate standards have changed all that due to greed and now the
focus is solely on profits. If the company or enterprise is not
making as much money as those on the top feel they must have in order
to appear ‘persons of substance’, then the first thing on the agenda
is ‘what can we close down; who or what can we get rid of to enable
us to take more (and more)’? In other words, the slogan has now
become ‘the management is always right’; ‘The customers will just
have to adjust.’ ‘And we will provide all kinds of other nice things
which we will persuade them they must have.’ Now where did I put that
red flag?

Cheers for now,
JohnB of Mapua, Nelson NZ

If your classes are full, it seems strange that the school would
consider closing them. Bureaucracy does strange things though.

Marilyn Smith

It is surely a shame that greed on the part of the school is
preventing you from sharing your obvious love of your craft with
students who are motivated to learn.

David Barzilay
Lord of the Rings
607 S Hill St Ste 850
Los Angeles, CA 90014-1718


May I ask which course you are talking about? The only courses in
Toronto that I know of which are 3years are: George Brown College and
The Ontario College of Art and Design.

Taylor in T.O.

Hi, Judy.

We ran into the same sort of problem with our classes at Dixie State
Collete (St. George, Ut.) Classes full to overfull. All doing well.
Then the College decided they needed the space for a Dental
Technician shop. There was noplace else for us to move. Our
Instructor was assigned other classes to teach at that time. Etc.
etc. So, with no warning – we went in on the second day of class,
for the semester – we were told the class was cancelled. Period. We
went back the next class day and bought a lot of the equipment and
tools, and all the silver they had on hand. We were NOT happy!, and
put in a petition to the president of the College. Some of the class
members are/were not without “prominence”, or “political power”, or
whatever you want to call it, in St. George. A few days later, we
were having class again, – in the St. George Rec. Department’s
workshop. They don’t have as much space or equipment, but we’re
gradually getting the equipment. A different (but experienced)
instructor, too. We mostly learn from each other, rather than the
instructor, anyhow. At first it was still a credit course at Dixie;
but after a year or two, when they started raising the tuition, we
divorced ourselves from the College. So it is no longer a credit
class at the College. But very few were students wanting to get class
credit, anyhow. And we always have a waiting list of people wanting
to get in.

Perhaps Verna’s group can come up with some similar solution??


Taylor, I am talking about the George Brown College-Con-Ed, Thursday
evening classes.

I am/was a teacher for Gem Setting 1&2. Many of my students came to
listen to me were from the daytime classes. My Gem Setting #3 was
also going to be a workshop for the daytimers to listen in. These
same folks were to do their own thing while I taught my advanced
course. This advanced was to be only on Tuesday nights. It was to be
a “pet project” of my own choosing and no other school had this
far-advanced level…! Gerry!

Thank you Ken Bova for sharing your private response to Verna with



Karen Christians forwarded the posting you made about your program
closing. I want to first state that I am NOT responding as a board
member of SNAG and in NO WAY are my comments to be taken as
representing the organization. That would be inappropriate and
outside my authority. I’m writing as a concerned colleague and
fellow jeweler and metalsmith.

I have a few suggestions for you but it would be much easier and
comprehensive to discuss them on the phone. I can call you if you
have a good time to talk. Meanwhile here are a few ideas:

  1. You should write a letter of protest to the chair and dean, and
    even the provost/president outlining the positive reasons, and
    educational value, of the program. Be specific. Be economic. Be
    long term. Be analytical. Be clear and concise. Emotional appeals
    wont work. Make sure the college/university understands THEIR
    benefits from continuing the program. Money/student numbers/Positive
    parental or alum support/more comprehensive educational appeal, etc.
    (Re jewelry not being an art form or worthy of pursuit, you could
    point out that archaeologically it is the oldest known form of human
    creativity dating back 43,000 years, though I doubt it would do any

  2. More importantly each and every student of yours should also
    write a letter. Yours will sound like you’re trying to save your job.
    Theirs is the real power because they pay the bills. Even if it’s
    hand written on notebook paper it will be effective. Copy every
    document you can (ask each to give you one).

  3. Persuade your students and classes to go to the chair/director’s
    office EN MASSE and complain about the closure. Then they should
    then go to the Dean in like manner. Have their parents call the
    department and register their complaints. (What the hell’s going on
    at my kid’s school? Why are you shutting down a program my
    son/daughter is in your school to study? What am I paying my kid’s
    tuition for? Etc. etc.) This job is for your students to undertake.
    Be persuasive. Be aggressive.

  4. Rally any community support you can to protest loudly and in
    writing to the officials making this decision. This might include
    business owners, gallery owners, art center directors, curators, and
    local board members as well. This must come from the community the
    school inhabits and works in on a daily basis. Outside people don’t
    count as much. Then have alumni send letters and PHONE CALLS, and
    complain vociferously about this action.

  5. Make the Chair of the department unhappy because things are
    notrunning smoothly. Expose or mention any collusion or potential
    nepotism. Be honest, above board, and clear that your integrity wont
    be compromised in this and you wont stand by quietly ignoring the

That’s all I can offer except my sincerest good luck wishes. Your
work is cut out for you. I’m copying Hanuman, Charles, and Karen on
this so they know about my reply.

Best wishes,
Ken Bova


The students are at the center of the university. I hope they can
rally support for your program. It takes a lot of noise for anyone
to notice.

Jeff Simkins

Dear fellow orchidians, I have received such good input from your
responses and appreciate it so much. I will be following your
advice. I am trying to make a case for small metals jewelry without
creating a negative atmosphere. The sculptor and myself work quite
well together and I hope that the school does not feel this is an
attack but rather a request for them to consider the students’
desire and the need for a well rounded art program. I will probably
loose any chance for letters of rec upon my departure but I feel
that I have to make an effort to save this program. I just hope
that I don’t have to work in an environment where all are angry with

Thanks again so much,
Verna Holland


That’s too bad I attend the GBC Jewellery Arts program, and hadn’t
heard that the class existed/ had been cut. Hopefully you can sort it
out mate.



Its not the Jewellery Arts Course that is under fire, but the whole
"Diamond Setting" course has been cancelled or who knows ‘put on
hold’… I had the privilege of revamping the whole course right from
the absolute beginning. I had the foresight of seeing what is needed
"now" not was required of in a course that was 10 years old !!! I was
in a delete this, or add this, and forget this…type of thinking…The
first semester was with 4 women, next 8 and now it was 22 in only 3
years, many of my “friends” were as young as 23 and one was 70 yrs

You know Taylor and Orchid readers, who are loosing?..not me or the
school, its the future students who now don’t have the proper
facilities of a decent program, pity,eh!

My word now is going out to anyone who wishes some of my input in
creating a decent up to date program…I am now available…Gerry,
the Cyber-Setter!

Hello, I just wanted to add a positive story to the discussion of
program closures.

The full time jewellery programs at George Brown College in Toronto
are healthy with good enrollment and a renewed curriculum.

We offer a one year certificate and a two year diploma focusing on
technical goldsmithing skill development, a one year certificate in
gemmology, and a three year jewellery diploma with an emphasis on
both creative and goldsmithing skill development.

In the last two years we have introduced a number of new courses,
including CADCAM for jewellery (where there has been a significant
investment in our full time program area).

We are excited about the growth of our programs, the integration of
new technologies, and our continued mandate to teach traditional
goldsmithing skills.

Martha Glenny
Co-ordinator Jewellery and Gemmology
George Brown Toronto City College
T: 416-415-5000 ext 6105
F: 416-415-4848

Hello Martha

I only today had a GREAT meeting with William and Vicki of Con-Ed
@George Brown College. Lots of numbers were flying around…It was a
different language to me…:>) The nice outcome of the one hour talk
was that Gem Setting #3 is a complete “GO” for the beginning of
November/04./ This is the evening course, we are speaking about

It is here, that the more advanced folks will be now learning all
the nuances of Bright-Cutting, Advanced Bezel Setting and more varied
techniques of Raising Beads. The only change will be a reduced number
of hours, from 60 down to 42 per learning session/semester. I am also
into restructuring the curriculum for these students (of all ages! ).

The result of this highly prized course, is that many of my past
students are now well into the jewellery trade at a professional
level. Some of them are now owning their own businesses, and now
store owners or consultants. If it was not for schools like GBC who
knows where these folks would learn???Do you agree Martha
G.???..Gerry Lewy!