Yale University School of Art dean Marta Kuzma. Image courtesy Yale.

The oldest university art school in the country just became a little more socially progressive. Today, the Yale School of Art announced that it will establish a new initiative focused on art and social justice.

The program, developed by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean of the Yale School of Art, Marta Kuzma, is funded by a recent $750,000 donation from an anonymous Yale alum. The money will be put toward research, scholarships, projects, and other academic resources across the graduate school of art, as well as a series of lectures and panels open to the whole university, aimed at exploring the intersection of art and social engagement.

The initiative is largely a product of an ongoing conversation between faculty (Kuzma, in particular) and graduate students about addressing issues around artistic production amid the current social and political climate. This is, however, part of a larger trend, with numerous MFA programs reframing themselves around “social practice” art.

The entrance to Green Hall on the Yale University campus. Photo courtesy of Yale University,

“This gift represents a level of generosity that enables the Yale School of Art to address one of the most important issues in society today—equity in graduate level education within which personal or social circumstances, race, gender, ethnic origin, or economic background, might in no way serve as an obstacle to higher learning,” said Kuzma in a statement. She added that the new program “enlarges the platform on which the Yale School of Art addresses the cross section of art with current debates and issues plaguing society, both nationally and internationally.”­

Kuzma was named dean of the School of Art in February of last year.


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