Dr. Julia Guernsey awarded President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award
Thu. February 26, 2015
The College of Fine Arts and Department of Art and Art History proudly congratulates Dr. Julia Guernsey on receiving The University of Texas at Austin President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award. This award recognizes excellence in undergraduate education in the core curriculum.
Dr. Guernsey has served as associate chair for the department since 2012. In this role, Guernsey has been heavily involved in and spearheaded curriculum innovation and initiatives.
“Professor Guernsey is a model for her ability to create discipline-changing research as an art historian while engaging undergraduate and graduate students at the highest level,” said Department of Art and Art History Chair, Jack Risley. “What’s more, the department and university have benefited enormously from Dr. Guernsey’s curricular activism.”
Her efforts have included showcasing the work of department students in UT Austin’s annual Undergraduate Research Week and ensuring that over 40 department courses can be used by students from across campus to fulfill Core Curriculum requirements in the arts. Guernsey also implemented an array of new courses that satisfy UT Austin’s Core Curriculum requirement to give students the opportunity to pursue a variety of skills and experience “flag” courses both within and outside their majors.
In 2012, Guernsey organized the first group of Department of Art and Art History students to present work at the annual Longhorn Research Bazaar, which presents undergraduate projects during Research Week.
“We hoped to demonstrate that research could take a variety of forms,” said Guernsey, “from painting Italian landscapes and architecture viewed while studying abroad with the Learning Tuscany program, to articulating one’s progress as an art educator, to designing a vision for urban planning and transportation solutions in Austin.”
Due to Guernsey’s efforts, the department has expanded its events during Research Week outside of the Longhorn Bazaar. The annual Undergraduate Art History Research Symposium allows undergraduate art history majors to present their senior honors theses to a public audience. It also affords students to the opportunity for one-on-one mentorship with Art History faculty on their public speaking skills. During Research Week, freshmen Foundations students from all four divisions — Art History, Design, Studio Art, and Visual Art Studies — display work throughout the fourth floor, exhibiting the range of technique and strength of training they receive in their first year in the department.
Guernsey’s curricular innovations have centered on VAPA (the Visual and Performing Arts requirement in UT Austin’s Core Curriculum) and flag requirements, which are designed to provide students – both majors and non-majors – with access to courses that carry “flags” in Writing, Ethics and Leadership, Global Cultures, Independent Inquiry, and Cultural Diversity in the United States. Her work redefining courses, opening up more of the curriculum to non-majors, shepherding innovative degree changes in all four divisions, and navigating the proper channels of approval all demonstrate her foresight – and courage.
“We now have a more robust curriculum that serves both majors and non-majors,” described Guernsey. “This enables the Department of Art and Art History to play a more vital role in the education of undergraduates from all areas of campus.”
Her efforts in expanding courses in the College of Fine Arts (COFA) that carry the Ethics and Leadership flag resulted in a collaboration with colleagues from a number of colleges and departments around campus. Guernsey applied for and received funding from the School of Undergraduate Studies that supported a team of COFA faculty engaged in developing courses to carry this flag; their efforts were expanded when Guernsey learned that she had been awarded a Provost’s Curriculum Innovation Grant to facilitate this collaborative initiative, Ethics Unwrapped, with faculty from the McCombs School of Business, the School of Undergraduate Studies, and the College of Liberal Arts. This multidisciplinary team’s initiatives in developing courses that explore a broad range of issues concerning ethical engagement in the arts received additional external funding from the Teagle Foundation.
Most recently, Guernsey became chair of a COFA Writing Flag Task Force that aims to craft online modules to develop the writing and professional development skills necessary for pursuing professional practice in all areas of the arts. Eventually, she hopes these courses could be used not only by students in the Butler School of Music, the Department of Art and Art History, and the Department of Theater and Dance, but also by students beyond UT Austin, who will benefit from the opportunity to pair their studio and practice-based courses with writing exercises that will prepare them for a variety of careers in the arts.
Dr. Guernsey remarked, “It is my sincere belief and hope that these initiatives will have a very significant impact on the quality and effectiveness of undergraduate education in our college, university, and beyond.”
Alumna Catherine Craft organizes exhibition at the Nasher Sculpture Center
Mon. February 9, 2015
Nasher Sculpture Center Associate Curator Catherine Craft (PhD in Art History, 1996) organized Melvin Edwards: Five Decades. The exhibition can be viewed January 31 – May 10, 2015.
Melvin Edwards: Five Decades was reviewed by The Dallas Weekly.