Texas University Offers to Enroll Philadelphia UArts Students After Sudden Closure

The Texas school says it has 20 to 30 spots in its performance and visual studies programs that it could fill.

Junior Wes Taylor sits in the Igloo Cylinder at Texas A&M School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts on Feb. 9, 2023, in College Station, Texas. Photo by Laura McKenzie/Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications

Texas A&M University has extended an offer to help students affected by the surprise closure of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, allowing them to apply for transfer for the fall semester.

The Pennsylvania university—which formed through the 1985 merger of the Philadelphia College of Art, founded in 1876, and the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts, established in 1870—closed its doors June 7 and fired around 600 faculty members, spurring a review by the office of Pennsylvania’s attorney general.

Grae Robinson, a program coordinator and recruiter for Texas A&M’s School of Performance, Visualization & Fine Arts, said in an interview that school has about 20 to 30 spots in its performance and visual studies programs that it could confidently fill.

From now through the end of the month, University of the Arts students are encouraged to contact Robinson to go through a special appeals process in which the school evaluates candidates to ensure that they can be placed in one of its three undergraduate majors offered in dance science, performance studies, and visualization, which integrates the fine arts with graphic design and digital technologies.

“Truthfully, we’re not expecting very many University of the Arts students because there’s so many local colleges and universities in Pennsylvania that have put out the same offer,” Robinson said. “But we do have quite a bit of space. As many as we can take, we are willing to evaluate to add into our program.”

Robinson said that the idea to offer help came from Mayet Andreassen, a faculty member at Texas A&M that is an alumna of the University of the Arts. Andreassen is currently an associate program director for Bachelor of Science in Visualization program at the Texas school.

“When the news was announced last Friday, she came to me and told me of someone who’s creating a list of colleges willing to take these students because the deadline had passed,” said Robinson.

Touting Texas a possible destination for the displaced students, Robinson said that students have gone on from its visualization program to work at companies such as Pixar and Netflix, while students in dance have gone on to Broadway and even dance teams for the Phoenix Suns and Houston Texans.

Robinson also addressed possible fears about taking the leap to move to Texas, especially after the University of the Arts announced just mere months ago that it was offering to help students displaced by the closing Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which will stop granting degrees after the 2025 graduating class.

“They’re not going to get kicked around again,” Robinson said. “We have a mission to grow, especially since we’re supposed to get a new building in 2029. Those students will be part of that growth and 100 percent will not have to find a new home again, especially not after moving cross country. That would just be cruel.”

Joe Sauder of Sauder Schelkopf, a law firm that has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of former students at the University of the Arts, said in an emailed statement that he looks forward to pursuing litigation on behalf of the displaced students.

“The abrupt closure of UArts has caused considerable financial distress to its now former students,” he said, adding that they “relied on its continuing operation and accreditation when they enrolled, obtained loans and, in many instances, relocated to Philadelphia to attend.”

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