Tyler community feels left out of move decision

As plans are finalized to move the Tyler School of Art to the university’s Main Campus, many Tyler students and faculty think one party is being left out of the discussions: The Tyler School of

As plans are finalized to move the Tyler School of Art to the university’s Main Campus, many Tyler students and faculty think one party is being left out of the discussions: The Tyler School of Art.

The move, which is planned for September 2006, would take Tyler from its suburban Elkins Park home to a piece of land at 12th and Diamond streets.

The prospect of losing the unique identity of the scenic Elkins Park campus in Montgomery County has raised questions in the Tyler community.

“People worry about losing the autonomy and intimacy that comes with a community of similarly-minded people,” said Tyler Associate Dean Richard Hricko. “[Tyler has] something special, and we worry about losing that.”

The “something special” Tyler has is 12 acres of suburban green space, which is a sharp contrast to the concrete jungle of Temple’s Main Campus. And on these 12 acres, which was donated to the university in 1934, Tyler has grown into a nationally recognized art school.

One Tyler official said the communication on the move has not been good and questioned Temple’s motivations.

“We’re being told what to do whether we like it or not,” said the Tyler administrator, who spoke on a condition of anonymity. “I feel like our desires are not being listened to.”

University President David Adamany declined to comment, referring questions to Temple spokeswoman Harriet Goodheart.

“The move of Tyler to the main campus has been an ongoing subject of broad-based discussion at the University for years,” Goodheart said. “Throughout the process, Tyler faculty, students and administrators – including both the previous dean and the current acting dean – have been engaged and their input solicited. To suggest that the Tyler community has been left out of the decision-making process is to ignore this long history.”

Tyler freshman Rachel Eschenbach said students have not been given enough information. She said they have not received a letter notifying them of the move.

“There are all kinds of rumors floating around that they will increase and decrease certain departments when they move,” she said. “I just want to know.”

Deb Martin, the director of student services at Tyler, said she knew nothing about the move, and all questions were supposed to be directed to the dean’s office. She said faculty was told not to answer questions about the move so rumors would not start.

“It is the way the university runs,” Martin said. “As an administration, we go where we are told to go. You go where your job is, if you don’t you have to find a new career.”

Hricko, the associate dean, said he senses frustration from students and faculty because details on the move are not available.

“I think there are always frustrations connected to projects, and this one has been a controversial project,” Hricko said. “A change of this scale is certainly the biggest change in Tyler’s history. My biggest frustrations just come with any change of this magnitude.”

Hricko said more promotional work and architectural renderings of the new building will help to get students and faculty excited for the move.

Some students do not see the advantages in leaving the suburban campus. Current Tyler freshmen will be the first class to be affected.

“I came here because I like the small campus, I like the intimate feeling,” said Tyler freshman Inez Fazlic. “I like to be surrounded by artists…not to be surrounded by business majors.”

Some Tyler students worry about the art school losing its identity.

“A part of Tyler’s mass appeal is where it is located,” said freshman Alice Van Ravenswaay. “Part of the reason I came here was for the beautiful campus.”

Martin, the student services director, said she was excited about the possibilities a move to Main campus could bring for Tyler students.

“I don’t look at what we will lose, I look at what we will gain,” she said.

The increased possibilities that will be given to Tyler students are positives that have not been overlooked.

“It will benefit [Tyler students] with better facilities, but also they will be more connected,” said Alexis Nutini, a Tyler graduate student in printmaking. “[Main Campus is] just a more multicultural experience.”

Debby Jolly, the administrative coordinator for the associate dean at Tyler, said she is getting excited as she learns more about the move.

“When we first heard the news it was kind of disappointing, but when we began to hear the positives it sounded better,” Jolly said. “Change is hard, but it can also be a very positive thing.”

Jason Boll can be reached at jase23@temple.edu.

Jason Boll can be reached at jase23@temple.edu.

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