VMA department eliminates specializations and PIN registration

by Malcolm Meyer / Beacon Correspondent • November 6, 2014

As of this semester, visual and media arts students on the production track do not choose specializations, according to Brooke Knight, the head of the department.

Knight said the 13 specializations for students within the production track no longer exist. The department now consists of media studies, production, and BFA tracks.

“What we found was that some differences between specializations were one or two classes,” Knight said. “It didn’t really make any sense to divide them up and this will give students more choices.”

He says the change will not affect students' degrees, as diplomas have never listed the specialization that student took—only if they were on one of the three tracks. The change only affects this year’s freshman class, future applicants, and current students who wish to enter the program.

Students were not informed of the changes, however. John Pooley, a sophomore visual and media arts student and former Beacon staff member, said he was frustrated that students weren’t told.

“It is aggravating that the VMA department has made such a large change to their program, without releasing a press release or at the very least, emailing all of the VMA students,” Pooley said.

The visual and media arts department has also changed part of its registration procedure, no longer requiring students with faculty advisors to provide a PIN to register for classes, according to a department-wide email.

The changes to the PIN system will only affect juniors and seniors in the major. Knight said that all freshman and sophomores will still be required to meet with staff in the academic advising center to receive a PIN number. He said this is to ensure they take the correct courses to be on track to graduate.

According to the email, the change is part of a new advising model for the major that will include a mentoring approach. Advisers for juniors and seniors will still be available to help pick classes and give career advice. Knight said the change will help students have longer and more meaningful conversations with professors, who as advisers were previously pressed to have quick meetings.

“The idea is to encourage students to meet with their advisers over the course of the semester, instead of all jammed into a week or two before registration,” Knight said.  

He said there also are plans to have large group advising sessions to answer career questions or have speakers from the industry.