New creative technologies school expands study in College of Fine Arts

London Gibson

The College of Fine Arts continued its series of expansions within the last year, opening a new commercially-focused school for design and creative technologies last week.

The School of Design and Creative Technologies launched immediately for the fall semester, a year after the college added two new degree plans and opened up a space in the Fine Arts Library for technology in design fields. 

The school is expected to become the largest academic unit in the College of Fine Arts, said Doreen Lorenzo, director of the Center for Integrated Design. Lorenzo will lead the new school as assistant dean.

“We have a unique opportunity to reinvent how the fine arts are taught,” Lorenzo said in an email. “Research shows us that more and more companies are eager for students who understand design, which in theory can affect all areas of business.”

The College of Fine Arts faced a 20-year decline in enrollments until recently, said Doug Dempster, dean of the college. With the addition of two new majors last fall and the new design school, Dempster said he predicts the college will grow from a recent low of 1,100 students to more than 2,000 within a few years.

“Looking back a few years, we had fewer than 100 students majoring in design disciplines,” Dempster said in an email. “In the coming year … enrollment of undergraduate majors in these majors will exceed 400 students.”

Dempster said while an official number of enrollment for the new school won’t be available until after the 12th class day, it is expected to be just below 300 undergraduates. 

The school will concentrate on educating students for creative professions across a range of industries, Lorenzo said. Some areas of study include designing for artificial intelligence, game design and design for the health care industry.

The two new majors, a Bachelor of Science in Arts and Entertainment Technologies and a Bachelor of Arts in Design, were added at the start of last fall. Both majors will fall under the new school.

The Foundry, the added maker space in the Fine Arts Library, was opened in collaboration with UT Libraries. The space provides access to creative tools such as laser cutters, headsets and 3-D printers. 

Design and Japanese junior Caroline Rock is one of the undergraduates enrolled in the new school. Rock said the addition of the new school shows responsibility on the part of the college to respond to increasing opportunities for design in several fields. 

“More than anything, the new school shows progressivism and design thinking,” Rock said. “I think it will open up a lot of opportunities down the road once the ball is rolling.”

Lorenzo said expanding creative education to include technology is a necessary adaptation to changes being made in all areas of business. 

“Extending beyond traditional disciplines of fashion, visual arts, architecture and theatre, design studies are now an integral part of engineering, business, information studies and computer science,” Lorenzo said in an email. “This is a unique school in any university, and the University of Texas should be applauded for supporting this endeavor.”