PULLMAN – WSU’s Faculty Senate voted today to approve splitting the School of Music and Theatre Arts into two separate departments.
Pending final approval by Provost Bates, the School of Music and the Department of Theatre and Dance will officially claim their distinct identities within the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) in fall 2008.
The split process was started by former CLA Dean Barbara Couture, before her departure in 2004, as part of the college realignment strategy. As a result, theatre arts and music have been functioning separately for the last several years. With strong support from both the administration and faculty within the units and the CLA Realignment Implementation Team, the proposal was sent to the Faculty Senate Catalog Subcommittee and Academic Affairs Committee for review.
The original decision to pursue separation of the theatre and dance program and music was based on a number of factors, including divergent criteria and balloting in the tenure and promotion process for faculty and a need for each area to be able to create unique and effective partnerships with other CLA departments and units across campus.
CLA Dean Erich Lear is fully supportive of the separation.
Before assuming his current responsibilities, Lear spent 11 years as director of the School of Music and Theatre Arts, and in that capacity he assisted in conversations with then–Dean Couture that led to her taking the initial steps toward separation. Lear stresses that this action is not going to result in additional expense, nor are there anticipated changes in administrative structure, curriculum, course delivery, or cocurricular opportunities in the near term for either area.
Instead he envisions both music and theatre and dance through their independence will see increased capacity to work on interdisciplinary synergies and bridge traditional academic boundaries. That in turn, he believes, will increase opportunities for the students of Washington State University.

Emphasizing this, Lear says, “I think the arts in general will become more visible and more integrated into the campus climate.”

Laurilyn Harris, chair of the new Department of Theatre and Dance said, “This is development we have been working very hard toward and we think this will offer us optimal opportunities to bring theatre arts to the campus and the community.”