NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Belmont University and Watkins College of Art will merge following the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.
In an announcement Tuesday morning, Belmont said the merger will create the Watkins College of Art at Belmont University, with Watkins' students beginning classes at Belmont in August 2020. Students previously have been able to take select courses at both universities.
"This is a historic day for Watkins as we join Belmont University,” said J. Kline, president of Watkins College of Art. "This agreement secures the legacy and mission of Watkins for generations to come. Our two universities share many of the same ideals, including a strong commitment to our students to prepare and inspire them to become meaningful change agents in our culture and across the globe. Belmont’s reputation as a growing world class institution is extraordinary, and we are delighted to be able to add Watkins’s renowned arts programs to significantly broaden academic and career opportunities for our shared student bodies."
Watkins students majoring in fine arts, graphic design, illustration, photography and art will join Belmont's fire arts programs in the newly created Watkins School of Art. Watkins interior design students will join the O'More College of Architecture and Design and film majors will be enrolled in Belmont's Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business.
During the announcement, Belmont leaders said the university will assess all staff and faculty from Watkins and try to hire everyone that they can.
The current Watkins College of Art property on Rosa Parks Boulevard will be sold and the proceeds will be used to create scholarships for Watkins students. This allows current Watkins students to finish their degrees at Belmont University while continuing to pay Watkins tuition prices.
The partnership will also provide Watkins students with further educational opportunities such as study abroad programs, access to career development staff and increased options for general education courses.
"For well over a century, Watkins has fostered the talents and honed the crafts of thousands of phenomenal artists. Partnering this legacy with Belmont’s thriving creative community in the arts, music, film and design represents a natural fit and brings incredible synergy to benefit all students," said Dr. Bob Fisher, president of Belmont University. "This merger will enable us to accelerate and elevate art education in the Southeast and beyond."
Watkins College of Art was founded in 1885. The nonprofit independent college offers bachelor's degrees in six majors and master's degrees in two graduate programs. Watkins students will join the nearly 8,500 Belmont students on the heels of the university's 2018 merger with the Franklin-based O'More College of Design.