|Dean Jeff Pike stands outside Bixby Hall;
in the background is Doors: Linear by Mark Rozansky,
B.F.A. '03 (sculpture). The artwork was part of a B.F.A. exhibit.
Illustrating a Collaborative Vision
for the Art School
Jeff Pike wants to ensure that students in the
School of Art absorb all the basics of a traditional studio art
education, and benefit from all the skills, knowledge, and experience
of its nationally renowned faculty.
He also wants to ensure that students are exposed
to everything else that Washington University has to offer. Doing
both means integrating a rigorous art curriculum with 21st-century
technology. It also means finding new and creative ways to integrate
the School of Art into the broader academic community.
One avenue toward this goal is the promotion
of combined studies opportunities. In only five years, the number
of students from the University's other undergraduate schools who
are working on minors in art has grown from 23 to more than 150.
Likewise, nearly one-third of undergraduate art students are now
pursuing minors, second majors, or second degrees in other schools.
"Our combined studies program is nationally
distinctive and a primary reason why undergraduate students choose
to enroll here," Pike says. "We've tried to take advantage of our
unique position as a freestanding art school within a major research
university and the wealth of in-depth academic programming that
"Way back when Jeff was associate dean, he helped
get the double-major/double-degree programs worked out across the
University so there would be a mechanism in place for students to
pursue combined studies," says Associate Dean Sarah Spurr. "That's
been a tremendous asset to the art school. We've been able to recruit
really remarkable students because we're one of the only places
in the country where you can get a professional art degree along
with a second major or a second degree in another discipline."
Also, the School of Art under Pike's leadership
has taken the initiative to establish programmatic and curricular
relationships with other parts of the University. "We're developing
a joint major with computer science, we have a strong relationship
with the business school, and we are developing our study abroad
program in collaboration with architecture and art history," adds
This collaborative spirit is embodied in the
Sam Fox Arts Center. The center's five unitsthe School of
Art, the School of Architecture, the Department of Art History and
Archaeology in Arts & Sciences, the Art and Architecture Library,
and the Gallery of Artwill share curricula and programming
as well as educational resources such as the Whitaker Learning Lab,
a new media center.
"The Sam Fox Arts Center is focused on the arts,
but in a sense will resonate throughout the University," Pike says.
"The idea is to create a place where students in, say, engineering
or medical imaging can have a conversation with architects and graphic
designers. Right now, for example, we're developing a basic platform
to support the use of digital images in teaching and researcha
platform we expect to share and maintain with the School of Medicine,
the College of Arts & Sciences, and University Libraries."
An award-winning illustrator, Pike began and
directed the School's illustration program and later, as associate
dean, was responsible for the undergraduate program. As dean and
a member of the Sam Fox Arts Center's Executive Committee, Pike
has directly overseen plans for the renovation of Bixby Hall and
the development of the new School of Art building. He's had input
into the new Museum Building, the renovation of Steinberg Hall,
and programmatic studies, as well.
"The Sam Fox Arts Center represents a new, cross-disciplinary
approach to the study of the visual arts," says Mark S. Weil, the
E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts and director
of the Sam Fox Arts Center and the Gallery of Art. "Dean Pike has
been deeply involved in realizing the goals of the center and fostering
a greater sense of community and collaboration within the School
One of Pike's most important goals is to improve
the graduate program, which, he says, "must reflect an increasingly
complex and multimedia visual landscape." He hopes that, by offering
more interdisciplinary structures, the program will better prepare
students for the varied professional experiences awaiting them outside
"Our students have an important advantage," Pike
says. "In addition to strong studio skills, creative problem-solving
abilities, and a digital facility that enriches both, they also
have high-quality academic training. They can make things, but they
can also think analytically, write well, and stand up and present
their work. This combination gives them incredible flexibility,
and allows them to take advantage of a wide range of opportunities."
For the School of Art, the prospects are exciting.
The School currently has three off-campus studio facilities. Faculty
and students who work in the studios spend most of their academic
hours away from the Hilltop Campus. Sheer distance makes collaboration
among disciplines difficult. With most graduate students working
off-campus, integrating the graduate program into the School has
been particularly challenging. Combining these facilities within
the Sam Fox Arts Center will change this dynamic.
"Collaboration requires self-knowledge," Pike
says. "Unifying undergraduate and graduate students and faculty
from all areas into a single 'arts campus' will literally transform
the School. It will reinforce both our distinctive identity within
the University and our identity as a full, committed partner in
the Sam Fox Arts Center.
"From a strategic viewpoint, I always want to
make sure that the School's initiatives are designed to better integrate
the visual arts into the intellectual life of the University, to
strengthen our ties with the Sam Fox Arts Center and the professional
community, and to distinguish us from the competition."
"I think Jeff has been
very effective at articulating a vision for the School of Art that's
based on collaboration and exchange. He has supported faculty initiatives
that lead in that direction and, as a result, has played a very
important role in establishing the Sam Fox Arts Center."
Douglas Dowd, Professor of Art
"I have worked with Dean Pike for over 17 years.
Throughout this time we have had the opportunity to face challenges,
invent new ideas, and see many programs grow and develop into the
exciting place the School of Art currently occupies. During all
these activities, Dean Pike has been committed, industrious, and
genuinely vested in the improvement of the School for its students,
faculty, and staff."
Ron Leax, the Halsey C. Ives Professor of Art
"Jeff has a very keen interest in the potential
of linking different parts of the University through the Sam Fox
Arts Center. Creating that sort of collaborative structure takes
a pretty broad vision because many of the questions about potential
and technology really don't have answers yet. But Jeff is asking
Pat Schuchard, the E. Desmond Lee Professor for Community
"Jeff Pike is a creative and effective individual
who has brought dynamic leadership to both the School of Art and
the Sam Fox Arts Center. He is a great University citizen who has
earned the respect of his faculty members and his colleagues in
the art community."
Mark S. Wrighton, Chancellor