Founded in 1937, the College of Fine Arts educates artists, scholars, and future arts educators in a context that emphasizes artistic excellence, cultural diversity, advanced technology and best professional practices. With an emphasis on research and the creation of new work, students and faculty work to master their craft every day and have ample opportunities to perform, exhibit and present their work. As a part of the University of Texas, COFA is proud to count among its alumni actors Matthew McConaughey, Brene Brown, Marcia Gay Harden and Rip Torn, director Wes Anderson, choreographer Tommy Tune, and many others.
The College’s Divisions and Departments include:
- Butler School of Music
- Department of Art and Art History
- Department of Theatre and Dance
- School of Design and Creative Technologies
- Texas Performing Arts, the university’s arts presenting organization
- Landmarks, the university’s public art program
As a comprehensive visual and performing arts college within an R1 research public university, COFA offers degrees from the B.A. and B.S. to the Ph.D. The College’s courses and programs encompass a large array of pursuits including classical music, drama, jazz, ballet, modern and contemporary dance, opera, ethnomusicology, playwriting, theatrical design, theatre art, and dance history, music composition, arts and entertainment technology, design and the studio arts in many mediums including video, photography, sculpture and painting.
The College also includes Texas Performing Arts, a national leader in eclectic, international arts presenting, and Landmarks, the public art program of the University of Texas. Both serve as learning laboratories for the students of the College of Fine Arts.
Operations and Finances
For the academic year 2019-2020, COFA currently enrolls 1,628 undergraduate and 456 graduate students for a total of 2,084. The faculty includes 109 tenured or tenure-track members and 69 career non-tenure track faculty. The College has 13 holders of Endowed Chairs, 15 Endowed Professorships and 70 Endowed Fellows. 17 new career faculty members were hired this year – eight of them tenure-track, and nine non tenure-track. The Dean oversees an office staff of 17, as well as the chairs/directors of the six major academic departments and programs. The staff of the College totals 215 FTEs.
COFA has an annual operating budget of $50 million and an endowment with valued at $163 million as of September 2019. On average, the College’s programs present more than 500 public events or exhibitions and welcome beyond 300,000 audience members each year.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
In 2012, Dean Douglas Dempster formed the Fine Arts Diversity Committee (FADC). The committee includes faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students from across COFA as well as staff from UT’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and the Office for Inclusion and Equity. Charged with creating an ambitious and comprehensive five-year plan that conveyed the College’s commitment to diversity and articulated specific goals, objectives and action plans for implementation. The strategic plan outlined goals in three focused areas: Culture & Climate, Recruitment & Retention, and Curriculum & Creative Programming. Ultimately the FADC has led the college in establishing and fostering a culture of inclusivity throughout the College community. The committee assists in the development of recruitment and retention strategies for underrepresented students, faculty, and staff; provides forums for mutual respect, an appreciation of differences, and cross-cultural understandings.
In recent years, The College of Fine Arts has become one of the most racially and ethnically diverse colleges at the University of Texas at Austin. As of the 2019-2020 academic year, 24% of tenured and tenure-track faculty identify as being from traditionally underrepresented groups, and 49% of undergraduate and 29% of graduate students identify similarly. COFA is committed to fostering a culture and climate of equitability that is inclusive and welcoming of students, faculty, and staff of all backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints. It is our conviction as a College that an inclusive learning environment facilitates complex, critical and creative thinking and that differences in identities, values, beliefs and perspectives are fundamental to a comprehensive education.
The College has raised over $210 million in cash gifts and endowments since its founding. In 2016, COFA reorganized and enlarged its development operations to a more centralized structure and secured additional staff funding from the university's central development office. The College subsequently doubled its annual fundraising from an average of $5-$7 million per year (2010-2014) to a new average of $12-$14 million per year (2015-2019). COFA also established a $3 million endowment of need-based scholarships to make professional internships affordable for low-income students.
The top fundraising priorities for College of Fine Arts for 2019-2020 are renovations to existing facilities and initiatves supporting college-to-career success. To date, the college has reached and surpassed its fiscal year goal of $15 million.