The College of Fine Arts and Communications
The College of Fine Arts and Communications teaches students to think, to feel, to perform, and to communicate. Its purpose is to give students the knowledge and skills requisite to a higher education in fine arts and communications. It opens the doors to the world of truth and beauty for exploration by majors and non-majors alike. Its programs require discipline, critical analysis, research, empathy, and integrity as the means to acquire knowledge and competency in various areas of study encompassed by the college.
Through its performances, exhibitions, newspaper, and broadcast channels, students have shared their creative work and scholarship with the world. Since 1971, BYU performing groups have performed more than 12,000 shows in all 50 states and 100 countries before audiences totaling more than 7 million. Radio and television broadcasts of their performances have reached hundreds of millions.
Individual student accomplishments include top awards at national and international performance competitions and festivals. Student fine arts ensembles and communications teams have distinguished themselves through their breadth of experience and commitment.
Members of the faculty are competent, dedicated men and women who are concerned about the success of their students. The college also brings to campus distinguished professionals for special lectures and artistic performances. Housed in the Harris Fine Arts Center and the George H. Brimhall Building, the college includes five theatres; two concert halls; three art galleries; design, journalism, advertising, broadcast, film, and music laboratories; and many music practice and rehearsal rooms.
A Heritage in the Arts
Despite their exhaustion from yet another day trekking across the western wilderness, the Latter-day Saint pioneers still gathered together to dance and sing – to renew themselves through the arts. After reaching the Salt Lake Valley and establishing multiple communities, the arts remained an important element of the Saints’ lives.
In 1875, when Brigham Young Academy was organized, the Saints continued to share their talents with each other. Music was an important part of student life and a choir was quickly organized to sing at religious meetings. Within a matter of years a Department of Music was organized, it existed as an extracurricular body and was overseen by Nettie Southworth from 1883-1885 (Wilkinson, 1:185). By the early 1900’s the Academy had a band, orchestra and choir, and music had begun to become integrated with the school’s academic core. Departments were also organized for Art and Speech.
In 1925, under the direction of Brigham Young University President Franklin Stewart Harris, the College of Fine Arts was organized. Harris was a lover of the arts and placed special emphasis on them during his administration. The new college became the first fine arts college in the western United States. It brought together the pre-existing departments of Music, Art and Dramatic Arts and Speech (Wilkinson, 2:101).
The First Arts College in the West
The Music Department was comprised of a vocal and instrumental division. At the time the college was created, the department had limited full-time faculty. Robert Sauer, Franklin Madsen, Florence Jepperson Madsen, William Hanson, and Margaret Summerhays conducted all the classes for the department, occasionally bringing in additional specialists as needed.
The Art Department consisted of Bent Franklin Larsen, a 1922 University of Utah graduate, and Elbert Hindley Eastmond, who has been hired in 1904. Within the next decade the faculty gained the skills of Verla L. Birrell, Lynn Taylor, and J. Roman Andrus. The Department not only managed the instruction of art, but also began a standing collection of art to be housed at the University. By the end of the Franklin administration they had roughly 700 pieces in their possession.
The Department of Public Speaking and Dramatic Arts was originally headed by T. Earl Pardoe, who incidentally did not have a degree when he was first hired at the University but earned his PhD in 1936. The department quickly became known for producing exceptional plays every year. This became a major component of the college’s reputation (Wilkinson, 2:285).
Struggling for Space
Being organized into a college was a major step for arts, yet they lacked physical housing. No central building housed the classes – they were spread across campus. Musicians in need of practice space would often congregate in bathrooms (Wilkinson, 2:633). Rehearsals for plays and productions were held in the Joseph Smith Building in shifts, one in the afternoon, one in the evening, and one starting around midnight. Musical productions struggled to overcome the poor acoustics in the Smith Fieldhouse. Yet despite the space issues, the programs were academically strong. After attending several rehearsals the 1956 University Accreditation Team reported the arts instruction to be of superior quality (Wilkinson, 2:660).In 1954 a proposal was finally made to erect a fine arts building. It was, however, rejected that year. And the following year. And the year after that. On 12 April 1956, Dean de Jong addressed the college faculty on the need for more space. He concluded his speech by saying,
Most sermons begin with a scriptural quotation. Mine finishes with one. I read in Roman’s [J. Roman Andrus’s] book what is reiterated in the Book of John [Halliday] and in the Apocalypse of Harold [Hansen]. The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the faculty of the College hath not where to lay its head.(Wilkinson, 3:79)
Finally, provisions were made in the 1958 budget to construct the building. The building was projected to cost $5,000,000, 80% of which came directly from the Church. Internationally acclaimed architect William L. Pereira was hired to design the building, and construction on the Franklin D. Harris Fine Arts Center commenced in 1962. It was completed in 1964 at a cost of $7,000,000 making it the most expensive building on campus at the time (Wilkinson, 3:43-44). It was dedicated the following year by Joseph Fielding Smith.
The College Expands
While the Harris Fine Arts Center was under construction, another major change was made to the college – the Department of Communications was added, thus changing the college’s name to the College of Fine Arts and Communications. The new Department of Communications housed the Department of Journalism (formerly housed in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences), the broadcasting programs (formerly housed in the Department of Dramatic Arts, and the photography program (formerly housed in the Department of Visual Arts (Wilkinson, 3:82).
After settling into the newly completed Harris Fine Arts Center, the college underwent yet another change. Responding to a request from the university administration, the college piloted an academic advisement program. In 1973, the College Advisement Center opened its doors. It was the first center of its kind on campus -- offering one-on-one consultations to students regarding their class schedules and graduation plans. The pilot program was successful and the College of Fine Arts and Communications Advisement Center became a model for similar centers which were started across campus.
In 1963, the college absorbed the Department of Communications and became the College of Fine Arts and Communications (Wilkinson, 2:622).
- Clawson Cannon (1967)
- Lorin F. Wheelwright (1967-1973)
- Lael Woodbury (1973-1982)
- James A. Mason (1982-1993)
- Bruce L. Christensen (1993-2000)
- K. Newell Dayley (2000-2003)
- Stephen M. Jones (2003-Present)
Associate Deans are appointed to serve renewable terms, each lasting two years. Associate Deans support the Dean in the administrative duties associated with the College. The following are past and current Associate Deans.
- M. Dallas Burnett 1988-1992
- David M. Randall 1992-1998
- K. Newell Dayley 1998-2000
- Harold Oaks 2000-2002
- Robert T. Barrett 2002-2006
- Sherry Pack Baker 2006-2008
- Rory R. Scanlon 2004-2010
- Edward Adams 2008-2011
- Gary Barton 2010-Present
- Randall Boothe 2010-Present
- Rodger D. Sorensen 2010-Present