USC Roski Dean Denies Accusations by Students Who Dropped Out in Protest

Erica Muhl, dean of the USC Roski School of Art and Design.
Photo via USC.

Erica Muhl, dean of the Roski School of Art and Design at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, has denied charges by seven students who dropped out of the school this month in protest. She repudiates the students’ claim that the school altered financial offers extended to the students during recruitment (see Entire 2016 MFA Class Drops Out of USC’s Roski School of Art and Design).

“We honored in every respect the 2014 offer letters sent to them by the school,” she says in a letter posted to the school’s website.

She labels the students’ claims as “misinformation” and insists that “No changes were made to the program after the students arrived and registered at USC.”

The students have said that the school altered financial offers made to them, including reducing the number of teaching assistantships offered; each assistantship included a full tuition scholarship. They have also said that the school reduced the studio visit component of the program and that key faculty for the 2015-16 year had not been announced to the students.

Muhl seems to blame the situation on extra demands by the students:

Our faculty and I worked hard to accommodate every additional request by the students, and took every possible step to address their concerns. In the end, they asked for accommodations that would have meant making exceptions to long-standing university policies and guidelines—policies and guidelines that ensure fair and equal consideration of the needs of all students at USC, including undergraduates, and that the university was unable to alter or suspend. I believed throughout that they understood this, and that even though we were unable to change university policy, we would make sure that they would feel no financial impact.

Muhl concludes the letter by informing the students that their withdrawal will be registered as a two-year leave of absence, during which they are welcome to re-enroll.

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