Meeting of the Board of Regents | April 2010
THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Higher Education Committee
Joseph P. Frey
Sotheby’s Institute of Art – New York: Master of Arts (M.A.) Degree; M.A., American Fine and Decorative Art; M.A., Art Business; M.A., Contemporary Art
April 19, 2010
Issue for Decision
Should the Board of Regents grant degree authority to and approve a master plan amendment for Institute of Art – New York, LLC, dba Sotheby’s Institute of Art – New York to award the Master of Arts (M.A.) degree and to offer M.A. programs in Art Business, American Fine and Decorative Art, and Contemporary Art?
Reason(s) for Consideration
Required by State Statute and Regulation.
This question will come before the Higher Education Committee at its April 2010 meeting, where it will be voted on and action taken. It will then come before the full Board at its April 2010 meeting for final action.
Education Law §224(1)(a) provides, “No individual, association, partnership or corporation not holding university, college or other degree conferring powers by special charter from the legislature of this state or from the regents, shall confer any degree. . .” Section 3.58 (b) of the Rules of the Board of Regents provides that “A for-profit institution may be granted degree-conferring authority by the Board of Regents in accordance with the procedures of this section. Such an institution that has no degree-conferring authority must first obtain provisional authority to confer degrees for a period of up to five years. . .”
Sotheby’s Institute of Art - New York has submitted a request for degree-granting authority and proposals requesting the registration of programs in Art Business, American Fine and Decorative Art, and Contemporary Art leading to Master of Arts degrees and advanced certificates. The proposed programs represent the Institute’s first degree and advanced certificate programs.
The Department canvassed all degree-granting institutions in New York City. The Department received responses from six institutions. One institution requested a public hearing on the American Fine and Decorative Art and Contemporary Art program proposals, but has since withdrawn the request.
Sotheby’s, Inc., the company that owns the Sotheby’s auction house, does not play a role in the management of Sotheby’s Institute of Art – New York nor does it have an ownership interest. Cambridge Information Group, Inc. (CIG) acquired the Institute from Sotheby’s, Inc. in 2005.
Sotheby’s Institute of Art - New York offers non-credit certificates in Art Business, American Fine and Decorative Art and Contemporary Art. Upon successful completion of the certificate, students may transfer to Sotheby’s Institute of Art – London to earn a master’s degree from the University of Manchester. Enrollment in the non-credit certificate programs for 2009-10 is 106 students.
The Institute has developed graduate-level, credit-bearing programs that are distinguished from traditional art history programs by their focus on object, market and business-based emphases. The core faculty of Sotheby’s Institute of Art – New York, as in the other locations of the Institute, are highly credentialed and distinguished in their fields. They include both scholars and practitioners in the art world. In February 2009, a peer review team conducted a site visit and commented that “one of the strengths of (the Institute) is its use of faculty who represent a variety of professional positions in the art world.”
The peer reviewers noted that the Institute had created “a unique combination of graduate programs that draws on the rich resources of New York City” and recognized the Institute’s development of a “full administrative structure” to support the programs.
The Institute has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) since 1989. It received plan approval from NASAD for the Master of Arts degrees in April 2009.
Six institutions responded to the Department’s September 2009 canvass of all degree-granting institutions in New York City. Bard College called for a public hearing of the Contemporary Art and American Fine and Decorative Art programs. In February 2010, Bard withdrew its request for a public hearing. Upon reflection, Bard does “not foresee that these (Sotheby’s) programs will have a significant impact” on Bard’s graduate enrollments.
The Department has determined that the proposed programs meet the standards for registration set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.
It is recommended that the Board of Regents authorize Institute of Art – New York, LLC, dba Sotheby’s Institute of Art – New York to confer the Master of Arts (M.A.) degree on students successfully completing registered programs for a period beginning immediately and ending on April 30, 2015, and approve a master plan amendment for Institute of Art – New York, LLC, dba Sotheby’s Institute of Art – New York to offer M.A. programs in Art Business, American Fine and Decorative Art, and Contemporary Art. This amendment will be effective until April 30, 2011, unless the Department registers the programs prior to that date, in which case master plan amendment shall be without term.
Timetable for Implementation
If the Board of Regents grants degree authority and approves the master plan amendment, the Department will register the programs and the institution will proceed to recruit and enroll students.
Information in Support of Recommendation
A. Institutional Information. Sotheby’s Institute of Art was founded in 1969 in London by Sotheby’s auction house. In 1984, Sotheby’s Institute of Art – New York was established and began to offer a non-credit program in American Arts. In 1995, both Institutes (London and New York) became affiliated with the University of Manchester (UK).
In 2003, Cambridge Information Group, Inc. (CIG) purchased Sotheby’s Institute of Art – London. The transfer of ownership was in response to Sotheby’s desire to focus on its core auction house business. Eighteen months after CIG purchased the London Institute, applications for its programs had increased by 100 percent. In 2005, CIG acquired Sotheby’s Institute of Art - New York. Since the change in ownership, the New York location has added non-credit programs in Art Business and Contemporary Art, and the enrollment has grown from 25 students in 2005 to 115 in 2008. In 2007, CIG established Sotheby’s Institute of Art – Singapore.
CIG is a management and investment firm, primarily focused on education, research and information services companies, and is owned by the Snyder family. It was founded in 1971 by Robert N. Snyder. Andrew M. Snyder, CIG’s current President joined CIG in 2003. It is committed to educational institutions and has a history of service to the academic and scholarly community. In addition to the Institutes in New York, London and Singapore, CIG owns ProQuest, an electronic and microfilm publisher; Dialog, a provider of online-based information services in such fields as business, science, engineering, finance and law; and Bach to Rock (B2R), a series of music schools using innovative concepts to teach students of all ages.
It is CIG’s intent to continue to own and develop Sotheby’s Institute of Art – New York, London and Singapore on a long-term basis. CIG has made significant investments in the New York Institute’s physical plant, including the design and build-out of an entire floor in the RCA building as well as in the development of curricula and the hiring of faculty and administrative personnel.
Although Sotheby’s, Inc. (auction house) does not have an ownership interest in Sotheby’s Institute of Art – New York, there is a mutually beneficial relationship between the two entities. The Institute provides the auction house with educational programming, and the auction house allows the Institute access to resources, including meeting space, experts in the field and the use of the Sotheby’s brand identity through a licensing agreement.
B. Curriculum. The programs in Art Business, American Fine and Decorative Art and Contemporary Art consist of 24 credits of required coursework, 6 credits of restricted electives and a 6 credit thesis. Full-time attendance is required. In addition to lectures and seminars, program activities include object study, museum and gallery visits, and trips to significant art markets, both domestic and international..
The programs meet the standards for registration.
C. Students. Admissions requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, with substantial coursework in art history. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation and participate in a formal interview process with a staff or faculty member. Enrollment is projected to grow by an average of 10% annually over the next five years, for a total of 170 within five years.
The admissions requirements meet the standards for registration.
D. Faculty. The Institute employs 8 full-time and 7 part-time faculty members with plans to hire a minimum of 3 new faculty members to accommodate growth in enrollment. The faculty are highly credentialed and include both scholars and practitioners in the art world, such as artists, curators and art gallery owners. Core faculty are supplemented by visiting lecturers who bring professional expertise and connections to various arts organizations and future employment opportunities.
The faculty meet the standards for registration.
E. Resources. The Institute has recently renovated the 6th floor of the RCA building. This location houses classrooms, the library and administrative offices. The Institute has access to a reception area and two classrooms at Sotheby’s auction house. Peer reviewers commented that the proximity and access to the resources and personnel of the auction house is “an invaluable asset to the curriculum” and makes the programs at the Institute “more than a classroom experience.”
The Institute’s library is focused on the teaching needs of the institution, rather than serving as a more general research library. To augment the number of volumes (6,000), the library has a collection of 33 databases of relevance to art researchers and has made arrangements for students to have access to the Bobst Library at New York University, the Watson Library at Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Art Reference Library. The Institute responded positively to the recommendations of the peer review team: “to make more extensive use of interlibrary loans, increase the physical size of the library….and to add the position of library assistant.”
The resources meet the standards for registration.
F. Program Registration. The Department has determined that the proposed programs would meet the standards for registration set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.
G. Need. The programs’ focus on the business of art enables students to become knowledgeable about the dynamics of the art marketplace, and prepares students for careers in art galleries, museums, non- and for-profit organizations, and for advanced study.
According to the US Department of Labor, employment of archivists, curators, and museum technicians is expected to increase 20 percent over the next decade, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
The Institute acknowledges the current downturn in the art market, but notes a demand for new professionals in auction houses, museums, non-profit and commercial entities, and in developing international art markets.
H. Effect on Other institutions. Although there are many graduate programs in art history in the New York area, there are few that compare directly with the Institute’s focus on object-based study of art, business and professional preparation.
Six institutions responded to the Department’s September 2009 canvass of all degree-granting institutions in New York City. Bard College called for a public hearing of the American Fine and Decorative Art and Contemporary Art programs. In February 2010, Bard withdrew its request for a public hearing. Upon reflection, Bard does “not foresee that these (Sotheby’s) programs will have a significant impact” on Bard’s graduate enrollments.