Save Watkins' Demands

May 13, 2020

To the attention of Watkins Commissioners, Board of Trustees and Leadership, and Belmont University Leadership,

To ensure clarity in our requests for the rights and advocacy of Watkins College of Art students, faculty, staff and alumni, please find a full list of requests. We are particularly concerned to learn that Watkins students that have chosen to transfer to Watkins at Belmont, are currently experiencing registration setbacks and informed that they will be required to enroll in additional semesters at Belmont to complete their degree. Should additional semesters or courses be required for current Watkins students to graduate “on-time”, Belmont should absorb those costs. Additionally pressing at this time, is the need to uphold the guarantee from Watkins College of Art that students, faculty, staff and alumni can maintain access to their Watkins email and google drive accounts.

Below you will find a full list of demands from Save Watkins. We look forward to your response and consideration for the Watkins community past, present and future.

Remaining demands for Watkins at Belmont

Transparency

  1. The final version of the proposed deal, submitted and approved by the Attorney General for Watkins to “merge” with Belmont is made a public document.
     

  2. 2019 Watkins Ruffalo Noel Levitz Consultant Reports are made public.
     

  3. Provide a true timeline of events leading up to the proposed merger.

Undergraduate Students

  1. CURRICULUM

    1. Watkins students must be offered an opportunity to graduate “on track.” Any additional courses or semesters required to graduate as brought on by the Watkins/Belmont merger shall be fully covered by Belmont.

      Watkins at Belmont students should be provided a liaison to ensure that transfer credits are carried over in full.
       

    2. The curriculum needs to emphasize the same amount of rigor and depth as Watkins current requirements.

      Coursebook for 2019 – 2020 available here.
       

    3. A curriculum committee needs to be formed (of at least 3 individuals), with a chairperson from Watkins, overseeing course accuracy and equivalence for each active major (undergraduate and graduate) that is offered by Watkins at the time of the merger. This chairperson cannot be a person from Belmont.
       

    4. BELLCORE curriculum must not apply to students within the art program, which is Watkins College of Art at Belmont.
       

    5. At least one block of courses should be made available for Watkins students wishing to draw and/or sculpt from the nude figure.
       

  2. CENSORSHIP, STUDENT RIGHTS

    1. Watkins at Belmont students shall be held to the censorship policies outlined in the 2019 – 2020 Watkins Student Handbook.


      “Students, faculty, and staff form a very special, friendly, and supportive community at Watkins, all dedicated to excellence in the visual arts. Open and free communication is encouraged. Members of the community respect each other and treat each other with kindness and dignity. Conflict is resolved in a direct, fair, and sensitive manner. Abusive and intimidating communication and behavior are not permitted. Freedom of expression and academic honesty are core values throughout the institution. Diversity is valued; differences in perspective, lifestyle, and philosophy are respected. Watkins College of Art makes no distinction in its employment, contracting, or admissions policies or procedures, including the awarding of scholarships and other forms of financial assistance, on the basis of age, sex, religion, race, color, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability. Watkins welcomes students, faculty, and staff of all ages, ethnicities, and cultures. Students come from across the nation and from a small but growing number of international countries. Every effort is made to create a safe and secure learning and living environment for students.”
       

    2. Belmont Handbook here and Watkins Student Handbook is here.
       

  3. CLUBS & ORGANIZATIONS

    1. Watkins at Belmont students are permitted to establish a student government. Ensuring that the identity of the student body and history of the institution are maintained within the walls of Belmont.
       

    2. Watkins Artist Collective – “a student and artist collective which regularly meets to discuss contemporary art, initiatives for alternative exhibitions, and alternative art-making methods and studio practice. In addition to their meetings, the group invites artists and speakers from the community to present their work and lecture” is financially supported and continued at Belmont.
       

  4. SERVICES

    1. As requested directly to Dr. Burns at the January townhall, current Watkins students, faculty, staff and alumni shall be able to maintain full access to their current Watkins email address and corresponding Google Drive accounts.

      Watkins Student Handbook 2019, p.15- “Upon enrollment at Watkins College of Art, students are assigned an @watkins.edu email address powered by Google. This email address replaces any personal email address used through the admission process and becomes the conduit for official College communication. Watkins will send all official correspondence to the @watkins.edu email address. Students are responsible for activating and maintaining that electronic presence. If a student withdraws or stops attending Watkins, their email address and all associated electronic presence with Watkins will be deactivated. Alumni of Watkins will be able to use their @watkins.edu email following graduating."

       

    2. New students beginning their first year at Watkins at Belmont for the Fall 2020 term shall follow the pre-existing email account policy outlined by Belmont.

Graduate Students

  1. Any MFA program that is offered at Watkins College of Art currently must be transferred to Watkins College of Art at Belmont.
     

  2. Watkins students must be offered an opportunity to graduate “on track.” Any additional courses or semesters required to graduate as brought on by the Watkins/Belmont merger shall be fully covered by Belmont.
     

  3. Points outlined above regarding curriculum, censorship, student rights, clubs & organizations apply to graduate students as well.

Financial Aid

  1. Watkins College of Art at Belmont students must be eligible to receive a parallel amount of financial aid (or more) than what they would receive at Watkins (before the merger). Since Belmont is a larger institution, students in the Watkins College of Art at Belmont students should not be penalized pertaining to financial aid eligibility based on the size of the institution.

    1. Housing costs for Watkins Students
      Students who decide to live on campus shall pay the current Watkins housing rate of $6,850 not Belmont’s current rate of $12,890. This rate is subject to no more than a 3% annual increase in perpetuity.

       

  2. Tuition rates for Watkins at Belmont students (including Watkins students that are forced to transfer to the Belmont Film School and O’more School) are charged Watkins current rate tuition ($22,800) not Belmont’s projected tuition ($37,030). This rate is subject to no more than a 3% annual increase in perpetuity.

    1. To reiterate the above, Watkins students must be offered an opportunity to graduate “on track.” Any additional courses or semesters required to graduate as brought on by the Watkins/Belmont merger shall be fully covered by Belmont.

Faculty & Staff

  1. Severance Packages

    1. All (full-time and part-time) current faculty and staff at Watkins College of Art shall be offered a severance package for the summer 2020 and fall 2020 semesters. This pay shall be consistent with the current earnings of these individuals on a semester basis.
       

    2. A health care plan shall also be made available within the severance package.
       

    3. Regardless of the deal outcome between Belmont/Watkins, the severance package offers presented to full-time faculty and staff on February 26, 2020, shall be honored.
       

    4. All current faculty at Watkins College of Art are interviewed for positions at Watkins College of Art at Belmont, provided the faculty submits their resume for consideration.
       

  2. Watkins at Belmont Faculty & Staff are held to the grading and censorship policies as currently established at Watkins.

Watkins College of Art Legacy

  1. Watkins College of Art at Belmont will be branded as such and will include the history of Watkins Institute on the website as well as in printed publications for recruitment.
     

  2. Watkins College of Art at Belmont will retain the complete archives of Watkins Institute, and they shall be housed in the special collections department of the Belmont Library. These archives will be available to view at the Belmont Library, according to the Special Collection guidelines.
     

  3. The Watkins Institute Art Collection shall be carried over to the Watkins at Belmont facilities intact and not liquidated for Belmont profit.

    1. Artworks within the Watkins Collection shall be given exhibition space.

Alumni

  1. Alumni of Watkins College of Art before the Belmont acquisition will retain their current benefits

    1. Alumni who have completed a baccalaureate program at Watkins may take up to two degree-program classes — one per semester — tuition-free, on a space-available basis, within two years of their graduation date.  Alumni will be responsible for any fees associated with the classes. Registration will take place each semester after degree-program, certificate, and regular special-status students have completed the registration process.  Alumni may choose either to audit or enroll in courses for college credit.
       

    2. Alumni from Watkins will have access to the Belmont Career and Professional Development Office and be able to engage in all of the services offered therein.
       

    3. Belmont must communicate these alumni benefits to Watkins alumni through multiple channels, including personal mailings, email, social media, and website presence.
       

  2. In consideration to the college closures due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), shall be given a semester’s worth of equipment for the Fall 2020 semester so as to complete their senior projects.

Outreach

  1. Re-focus Watkins at Belmont on the original mission of Samuel Watkins, “the youth of Nashville”.

    1. Establish relationships with public and local art high schools for pre-college opportunities exhibition opportunities with Watkins at Belmont college students and faculty.
       

    2. Watkins College of Art at Belmont will offer a full-tuition scholarship to (2) Nashville School of the Arts graduates.
       

    3. A Watkins at Belmont Continuing Education program shall foster the above mentioned pre-college program in addition to providing the community with discounted art courses for adults.

Watkins Leadership

  1. The current Watkins Commissioners should be fired by the state and replaced by Commissioners that have higher education backgrounds. The State Senator and Representative for the district should be consulted. The law should be changed to add term limits for the Commissioners.
     

  2. The bylaws of the Watkins (at Belmont) nonprofit shall be modified to clarify the roles and the powers of the board members vs. the Commissioners.
     

  3. Watkins at Belmont shall have a committee of at least (5) individuals that represent the faculty, staff, students and alumni of Watkins. The Watkins at Belmont committee shall coordinate with the “legacy committee.”

And as a reminder, here are our original requests from the Change.org/savewatkins petition

Your currently enrolled students are:

  1. Offered a new deadline to withdraw from the Spring 2020 semester without financial penalty.
    Completed

     

  2. Provided an opportunity for individual meetings with an academic advisor prior to the end of the Spring 2020 semester to outline their future coursework and overall academic plan. This meeting should include specific detail to any additional coursework mandated by Belmont University’s BELL CORE (ie, specific humanities, religion or physical education courses).
    In progress

     

  3. Does Belmont University’s current Religion BELL CORE requirement impact Watkins College of Art transfers?
    Unknown Status

    1. Though religion courses transferred in from accredited institutions will typically count toward the requirement, all Belmont students are required to have an academic encounter with the whole biblical text. Therefore, for example, a student transferring in a World Religions course would have to take Understanding the Bible (REL 1010) to complete the BELL Core requirement.

Students that choose to maintain enrollment at Watkins College of Art at Belmont are:

  1. Provided an orientation at Belmont University prior to the start of Fall 2020 courses. Appointments with Financial Aid Counselors, Health and Counseling, Campus Housing and Student Life, Disability Resources, and Academic Advisement shall be made available.
    Unknown Status

     

  2. Offered courses, equipment and studio access that are parallel to that of Watkins College of Art.

    1. Courses, studio equipment lists, and studio facility details should be made available to the Watkins at Belmont student body before the end of Spring 2020.
      Unknown Status

       

    2. Will art majors continue drawing, painting and sculpture figure model instruction with nude models?
      Unknown Status

       

    3. Provided a Watkins at Belmont Student Handbook before the end of Spring 2020, detailing policies on:
      Unknown Status

      1. Censorship or Freedom of Expression

      2. Diversity and Inclusion

      3. Living on Campus
         

    4. Students that are currently on a Work-Study Program at Watkins shall be offered Work-Study opportunities at Watkins at Belmont.
      Unknown Status

Merger financial transparency

  1. What are the details of the merger with Belmont University? The signed agreement between Belmont University and Watkins College of Art should be made a public document.
    Still waiting on the latest merger document submitted to the AG

     

  2. Are current members of the Board and/or current President of Watkins College of Art financially profiting from the merger?
    Unknown Status

     

  3. What will the Rosa Parks property be sold for and how are the earnings being distributed?
    Conflicting information provided, in progress

     

  4. Are current members of the Board and/or current President of Watkins College of Art financially profiting from the sale of 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd?
    Conflicting information provided, in progress

Faculty and Staff severance

  1. All current faculty at Watkins College of Art shall be offered a severance package for the summer 2020 and fall 2020 semesters. This pay shall be consistent with the current earnings of these individuals on a semester basis. A health care plan shall also be made available within the severance package.
    Full-time faculty and staff offered packages
    Adjunct faculty have been offered nothing

     

  2. All current faculty at Watkins College of Art are interviewed for positions at Watkins College of Art at Belmont, provided the faculty submits their resume for consideration.
    Unknown Status

Watkins Community Education Program

  1. Will the cornerstone of Watkins, our Continuing Education Program, continue operation?
    Unknown Status

     

  2. If the Watkins CE program is slated to continue, who will teach within the program? Will current Watkins CE faculty be offered their positions at Belmont?
    Unknown Status

     

  3. If the Watkins CE program is not slated to continue, all currently registered CE students and CE alumni shall be notified of the program’s discontinuation before the end of Spring 2020.
    Unknown Status

Accreditation and Affiliations

  1.  Will WCA at Belmont maintain its current accreditations?

    1. SACS, AICAD, and NASAD
      Unknown Status


      Additionally, will Watkins at Belmont remain eligible for the AICAD mobility program?

WCA applicants to Fall 2020

  1. Are immediately communicated information regarding the merger with specific information on the course curriculum.
    Unknown Status

     

  2. Offered an application fee refund should they choose to withdraw their application based on the merger.
    Unknown Status

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