June 26, 2018 | last updated June 26, 2018 4:55 pm

UConn trustees approve Hartford campus fine-arts move

Matt Pilon
Matt Pilon
The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford could be home to a UConn master's degree program later this year.

UConn's board of trustees on Wednesday morning approved a license agreement with the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, enabling a portion of the school's fine-arts program to move from Storrs to the Capital City.

The five-year deal calls for a payment of $40,000-per-year, with escalations, at the art museum, which is steps away from UConn's new Hartford campus.

UConn plans to move its Master of Fine Arts in Administration program to an 1,100-square-foot space on the museum's second floor that's currently used for storage. UConn hopes to have the space ready for fall courses. Faculty would travel between Storrs and Hartford to teach undergraduate and graduate courses. Other MFA degree programs would remain in Storrs.

Wadsworth CEO Thomas Loughman revealed ongoing lease talks with UConn back in March.

On Tuesday, prior to the vote, Anne D'Alleva, dean of UConn's School of Fine Arts, said she's been wanting to move the administration MFA program to Hartford ever since UConn decided it would relocate its West Hartford campus to the city.

UConn's students will be closer to Hartford's "national-caliber" arts institutions -- the kinds of places they may someday wish to work. Meanwhile, the theaters and museums will have the benefit of "motivated, bright, hardworking students engaged with them."

"The benefits seemed really clear to me," D'Alleva said. "It's a great mutual benefit."

She said it's unique to have a graduate program embedded in a museum such as the Wadsworth.

Coincidentally, one of the only other examples of such a collaboration, Loughman said Tuesday, is where he himself attended school at Williams College. Its graduate program is housed at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass.

"I know this can work really well," Loughman said.

He said the Wadsworth -- the oldest continuously-operating art museum in the country -- has a long history of housing educational programs, from being the original location of the Hartford Art School to the Amistad Center for Art & Culture, which has lived within the museum since 1987.

"All kinds of instruction has always happened here," Loughman said. "Housing a university program at graduate level just takes us to another level, another dimension."

UConn's three-year administration MFA program is relatively new, and just graduated its first class of students this year. There are currently 12 students enrolled in the program, she said.

UConn's fine-arts program has had a relationship with Wadsworth for years. Some of its students do internships at the museum, and UConn music ensembles have also performed there.

"There's a very cordial and collaborative relationship, and this will only build on that," D'Alleva said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story referred to the arrangement between UConn and the Wadsworth as a lease. The deal is technically a license, which is similar to a lease, but conveys rights to a space, rather than to underlying real estate.

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