After Dramatic Withdrawal, USC Roski Students Call for Dean Erica Muhl’s Resignation

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


The eight students of the MFA class of 2015 at the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design have launched a petition calling for the resignation of Dean Erica Muhl.

The petition follows the dramatic withdrawal from the program of the entire class of 2016. In May, the class dropped out in protest over what they called a bait and switch, in which the administration reneged on financial promises while gutting key aspects of the program. Muhl has suspended recruitment after a sole student enrolled in the class of 2017.

Excerpts from their letter to the administration follow:

Our experience negotiating Dean Muhl’s unwillingness to reasonably communicate curricular changes significantly encumbered our degree progress at USC. Over the past year, we felt increasingly ostracized from our own program. After many meetings with Dean Muhl and her staff, it became clear that our investment was not one the Roski administration wished to understand or support. The administration’s consistent lack of transparency, evasive communication and persistent belittling of its students resulted in the significant loss of respected faculty members and staff during the 2014-15 school year.

Dean Muhl has alienated students, faculty and alumni and offered convoluted and untruthful information to the public in an attempt to obfuscate the devastating impact of her actions and the failure of her administration. USC is sheltering a highly paid administrator who has operated unethically by breaking funding and curricular promises to its students.

These disruptive tactics have made it clear to us, as well as the public at large, that Dean Muhl disregards and fundamentally misunderstands the needs of a graduate-level studio art program, despite the valuable advice of our committed faculty. In light of the stated losses, we are requesting that the University remove Erica Muhl as Dean of the Roski School of Art and Design, as she has proven herself unfit to uphold the charge of leadership in the field of fine arts higher education.


Jacinto Astiazarán

Lena Daly

Orr Herz

Veli-Matti Hoikka

Sofía Londoño

Alli Miller

Alana Riley

Fleurette West


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