Texas Tech University

A Brief History Of The College

Approximately over 40 years ago, a doctoral program in the Fine Arts established an intellectual environment that enhanced the connections inherent to the disciplines of Art, Music, and Theatre. This program capitalized upon the interdisciplinary roots of study in the arts, embracing core study in all three disciplines, coupled with focused study in one particular specialization. On a small scale, the doctoral program provided a structure that functioned in lieu of a college-level structure and provided the impetus behind the creation of a new J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts at Texas Tech University.

The Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Fine Arts and Its Philosophy

"It is frequently acknowledged that the future of the arts and their impact on society in general depend on the recognition that the arts are one in their benefits to humankind, in their need for public support, and in their claim to a significant place in all formal educational curricula. Although there will always be a place for highly specialized study at the graduate level in each of the arts, the field also has an urgent need for the development of leadership that will reflect awareness of the mutual problems and the impact on society of all the arts. At the college, community, state, and national levels, informed and well-trained leaders with broad understanding of the current place and future significance of the arts in public life can do much to fulfill the potential envisaged by such federal breakthroughs as the National Endowment for the Arts." [Langford, T., Kincaid, C., Marple, H., Texas Tech Journal of Education, vol. 9, no. 2, spring 1982]

A Name and A Vision for the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts

The above excerpt, written seventeen years ago, holds promise for the new J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts at Texas Tech University. Consideration of recent intellectual and artistic issues has engendered the name by which the college is known.

Performance, of course, characterizes principal endeavors in music and theatre, and the production of visual art constitutes in essence a performative task. However, performance is only one aspect of the college's activities: the academic discipline of history studies all four arts, and special academic preparation is required to teach them at the primary level. Too, the concept of the Fine Arts has been expanded beyond the traditional preoccupation with great works demanding aesthetic examination. Thus, visual arts now include such specialties as ceramics, study of visual relics from civilizations like that of Aztecs, and even visual studies, which examines all visual aspects of a culture regardless of their pretense to aesthetic or intellectual quality.

The appellation Visual and Performing Arts embraces not only creative productions in the four disciplines of art, dance, music, and theatre, but also the varied ways in which those productions continue to be examined.

At Texas Tech University, we have the potential through the new J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts to enhance natural connections between the three disciplines and to create both cohesion and synergy of artistic ideas. The college is committed to providing an engaging and challenging environment that promotes the highest standards of excellence in art, music, theatre and dance, and it intends to be recognized as a leader in linking the elements of arts education, research, performance, creativity, and technology. Our students and faculty will be direct beneficiaries, of course --- the possibility for interdisciplinary affiliations are boundless.

Of equal importance, however, will be our potential to enhance the arts climate in West Texas. The university has long been recognized for its unique contributions to cultural life in the region. This new alliance will allow us to strengthen our bond to the community.

Practical Possibilities

Beyond our natural artistic interrelationships, the J. T & Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts will benefit Texas Tech University in more pragmatic ways.

  • Enhanced reputation for the arts disciplines --- locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Combining resources to form a J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts constitutes a strong statement of the value that the university attaches to its arts programs. Throughout the country, the most prestigious arts units enrolling exceptional students and student artists are organized similarly, regardless of the specific name given to the unit.

  • Enhanced potential for recruiting gifted students and faculty.

Synergetic energies of the new collegiate structure complement and invigorate strong individual programs in each of the arts disciplines.

  • Enhanced opportunities for curricular innovation.

The new affiliations within the college invite creative thought and curricular freshness, stimulating many inter-, multi-, and cross-disciplinary instructional possibilities.

  • Enhanced external focus in friend- and fund-raising.

With a Dean, development officer, and staff focused upon only the four arts disciplines, greater attention can be given to creating a future for the arts at Texas Tech, within the West Texas region, and in the state.

  • Streamlining of operations and facilities.

A localized administration avoids redundancy in addressing issues common to all arts faculties.

  • Potential for facility improvement.

Philosophically interrelated, the arts also can be connected physically to create the proximity that promotes an exciting educational environment, stimulates research and creative activity, and facilitates administration.