Thompson Rivers University

TRU will redirect visual arts resources to meet emerging educational needs

January 29, 2024

KAMLOOPS — TRU will redirect resources to new programs — including the possibility of criminology, counselling, communications design and Indigenous studies — after the university’s board voted Monday to discontinue four visual arts degrees and diplomas.

At a special meeting, the board voted to discontinue TRU’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Arts, major), the BA (Visual Arts, minor), the Diploma in Visual Arts, and the Visual Arts Studio Certificate. Students currently enrolled in these programs will have the opportunity to complete their credentials. Faculty teaching these programs will not be affected, and TRU will continue to offer a wide array of visual arts classes for students.

Marilyn McLean, the chair of TRU’s board, said the decision was not easy to make; however, the board has a duty to ensure the institution makes the best use of limited resources.

“Every university, including TRU, must change and adapt to what students, the job market, and communities need now. We must also meet the expectations of our primary funding partner — the provincial government. By doing this, TRU is acting responsibly to ensure the best use of public dollars,” she said.

Historically, graduation rates in these specific visual arts programs have always been low, McLean noted.

“These programs have not suffered declining enrolment, but perpetually low enrolment,” McLean said. “There have been many attempts to envision changes to the programs to ensure its relevance over the years, but without success. It’s time to move in a new direction that provides different kinds of equally valuable opportunities to larger numbers of students.”

These closures will allow the Faculty of Arts to redirect limited — and unchanging —resources to other programs and provide larger numbers of students with meaningful educational opportunities, she said.

The board’s decision follows advice from TRU’s Senate, which voted on January 22 to send governors a package of information containing feedback from community stakeholders, faculty and current and former students; a report from TRU’s Academic Planning and Priorities Committee, and information from the Arts Faculty Council.

McLean acknowledged the debate around this decision has been contentious.

“It’s not easy to make decisions like this. The board understands the passion and connection many in the community have to the arts,” she said. “We know that TRU has played an important role in developing artists in Kamloops and beyond. We are proud of that legacy, and we will continue to provide opportunities for people to explore artistic endeavours.”

TRU Provost Gillian Balfour said now that the decision has been made, the Faculty of Arts can begin the process of making changes. Current visual arts students will be notified of the decision and provided assistance as they complete their programs.

Balfour noted this change does not end visual arts training at TRU. Many arts courses will continue and possibly expand, especially ones that have served as popular electives for undergraduate students in other programs.

As well, the space currently used by the visual arts programs will be available now for pressing student services and more classroom space, both of which are desperately needed, she said.

Balfour told the board this decision is about strategic planning and resource allocation. The high costs of the programs and the significant space requirements make this decision necessary at this time.


Robert Koopmans, executive communications officer
Marketing and Communications, Thompson Rivers University | 250-852-7121