Statement of Standards and Practices Concerning the Promotion, Tenure, and Retention of Studio Art Faculty

Adopted at the annual membership meeting, Durham, NC, October 23, 1993, and amended at the annual meeting in Jacksonville, FL., October 2004.

The Southeastern College Art Conference adopts the following “Statement of Standards and Practices Concerning the Promotion, Tenure, and Retention of Studio Art Faculty.” The Conference urges all institutions of higher learning to endorse and conform to these standards and practices.

Statement Acknowledging the Mission of Institutions of Higher Learning

Given the diversity of institutional missions, the Southeastern College Art Conference, SECAC, encourages all colleges and universities to articulate policies and procedures regarding retention, promotion, and tenure.

The Role of the Artist Educator to Higher Learning

Art is a body of knowledge that contributes to the richness of our culture. The artist educator, like educators in other disciplines, is committed to teaching (visual literacy), scholarship/research (creative production and exhibition/presentation), and service to communities (academic/artistic). Specifically, teaching visual literacy prepares students for making responsible and sensitive contributions to society and making art with the skills, knowledge, and values necessary for the constant process of cultural renewal.

Hiring Standards and Practices


Artist educators hired to teach studio art classes should be qualified by earned degrees and/or commensurate professional experience.

The appropriate degree is the Master of Fine Arts, which is acknowledged as the highest professional degree in studio art. It is also recognized that some artist educators will hold other degrees or no degree at all. In those instances where a candidate for a studio art teaching position does not hold the Master of Fine Arts degree, the appropriate measure is the individual's professional experience, expertise in the discipline for which he/she is hired to teach, and his/her accomplishments as an artist.

In as much as the Master of Fine Arts is the highest professional degree in the field and thus, equivalent to the Ph.D., faculty hired to teach studio art should be afforded the same opportunities for rank, tenure, tenure-track salary, and professional development as their colleagues hired with doctorates.


Institutions seeking to hire studio art faculty shall follow prescribed professional practices in all searches. This includes (but is not limited to) a forthright position description and adherence to standards and expectations articulated in this and similar documents from agencies such as the College Art Association and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Beyond the position description, a candidate may request and should be given detailed information regarding responsibilities and departmental policies relevant to tenure and promotion. Specifically, this information should include:

  1. A thorough position description.
  2. All institutional catalogue copy pertinent to the instruction expected of the potential faculty member.
  3. A detailed list of responsibilities including: faculty work load, number of courses to be taught, contact hours required, student advising duties, supervision of graduate and special students, studio and classroom maintenance, technical support/maintenance, the range of committee expectations and extraneous activities such as gallery work, mentoring responsibilities, administrative duties, office hours, etc.
  4. Availability of studio and office space for faculty.
  5. Availability of research and professional development support through the department, college, institution, etc.
  6. Copies of unit or departmental governance documents, including description of procedures and standard for the awarding of promotion, tenure, and salary increments.

The Professional Environment

Class size, course loads, classroom supervision, and support duties should contribute to sound teaching practices and safe learning/working environments. We endorse C.A.A.'s recommendation for class size and studio courses taught by teaching graduate students.

Class Size

CAA encourages institutions to place limits of 15 or less on classes where safety and the use of specialized equipment are major factors. Generally, to ensure quality instruction in visual arts courses, 20 students or less is appropriate. Class size of 25 or more is inappropriate for effective visual arts teaching.

The use of dangerous machinery, complicated equipment, solvents, chemicals, etc., shall be taken into consideration in determining an effective teaching and learning situation.

Graduate Students

When graduate students are assigned teaching duties, they should be closely supervised by members of the regular teaching staff. In no case should graduate students be given teaching assignments in excess of one half the normal teaching load.

The Work Environment

Studio art faculty are to be provided with adequate space and facilities to offer the curriculum as articulated institutional catalogues and/or bulletins. Given the space and equipment considerations most studio art curricula require, it is particularly important that appropriate, safe, and hospitable work places be guaranteed to faculty and their students. Curricula should not be offered for which adequate space does not exist or which lacks appropriate safeguards for the health and safety of its users.

Like their colleagues in many of the laboratory sciences, studio art faculty are charged with the safety and well being of their students in work environments that are potentially dangerous. It is expected that studio art faculty and their institutions will cooperate in seeing that every possible precaution is taken to insure a healthy environment in the art studio classroom. This includes adequate ventilation of work spaces where known or potentially toxic chemicals are used, providing adequate lighting, insuring that safe and well maintained equipment is available at all times, access to trained medical assistance, and easy access to thorough material safety data on all items used.

Support Duties

Support duties assigned to faculty which contribute to the smooth and qualitative operation of the department, but are exceptionally time consuming (i.e., gallery work, supervision of visual resources, or studio maintenance of kilns, presses, computers, printers, and other technical equipment, etc.) warrant a reduced teaching load.

Expectations and Standards for Promotion, Tenure, and Retention

Teachers of studio art with the recognized terminal degree, the Master of Fine Arts, are entitled to full faculty status and should be given the same regard and treatment for promotion as other faculty members. In order that every faculty member understands the requirements for tenure and promotion, the department or college of art should have a document (separated from the university handbook) readily available to the faculty and especially to potential faculty or candidates for positions, in which minimum standards and expectations for each level of advancement are clearly outlined. So that faculty will not have to discern between multiple sets of expectations, guidelines should be written to coincide and agree with general standards mentioned in a Faculty Manual and be written with regard for their contractual implications.

This document should include:

  1. A description of departmental mission or philosophy.
  2. Expectations of the faculty member as teacher, including undergraduate and graduate student instruction, and advising duties.
  3. Minimum research/creative activity and exhibition/presentation expectations.
  4. Acknowledgement that research/creative activity and exhibition/presentation expectations should be as discipline-specific as possible, recognizing that digital media, time arts, collaborative projects, and new genre artwork might have different criteria than painting, sculpture, etc.
  5. Expectations in the area of service to the university including such items as recruitment, fund raising, grantsmanship, alumni development, involvement in distance-learning, and committee work.
  6. Minimum expectations in the area of community service if the school has expectations in this area.
  7. Professional activities, including exhibition/presentation, participation on panels, presenting papers, jurying art competitions, conference attendance, and participation in professional arts organizations at the local, regional, and national level.
  8. A calendar of regularly scheduled conferences between the faculty member and appropriate administrators, to discuss faculty progress and issues related to promotion and tenure.

For each level of Promotion/Tenure, terms, such as “teaching,” “research,” “creative activities,” and “service” should be carefully defined, their relative weights stated, and expectations made explicit.

Compliance With Other Organization's Standards

SECAC strongly recommends that art departments/colleges of art be familiar with and/or comply with the current standards of CAA, NASAD, and AAUP. Copies of current standards/guidelines of these organizations should be readily available to all faculty.

SECAC Ad Hoc Committee on Standards and Practices Concerning Promotion, Tenure and Retention of Studio Art Faculty

J. Michael Simpson
Auburn University at Montgomery, Chair

Donald Van Horn
University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Robie Scucchi
Mississippi State University

Dr. Olaf Sorenson
Furman University

Michael Aurbach
Vanderbilt University