Enrollment and Curriculum
Hamilton holds dear its historic architecture and landscape, but the College community also recognizes that older buildings and spaces, outdated technology and strained resources can impose harsh limits on learning. The state of arts facilities on campus plays a critical part in determining who studies the arts, who teaches them, and what is taught.
The demand for courses in the arts at Hamilton is extraordinary -- and growing. Ten of the Art Department’s 11 courses at the 100 and 200 levels at the start of the 2009-10 academic year had waitlists. A semester earlier, two introductory theatre courses were over-enrolled. The trend will continue: College Board data for a recent decade found a 44 percent increase in the number of high school seniors who reported that they planned to major in the visual or performing arts. With such growth on the horizon, spaces will become even more crowded and risk obsolescence.
About 7 percent of Hamilton students at any given time are majoring in the arts. Among those who have double majors, about 17 percent have at least one of their majors in the arts. That’s a dramatic indicator of the regard in which these programs are held among students and their faculty advisors. As the interdisciplinary importance of art and performance grows, the spaces in which to study and explore these fields must grow as well.
With an average of 260 students now enrolled in theatre courses, the theatre curriculum melds longtime Hamilton traditions -- intensive, personal student-teacher collaboration and a focus on oral communication skills -- with a balanced study of Western and non-Western dramatic forms and performance techniques. New facilities with larger teaching and performance spaces are essential to the health of the theatre program.
With an average of 200 students now enrolled in studio arts courses, the range of the program is expanding in remarkable ways. Students develop fluency in the techniques of drawing, painting, printmaking, darkroom photography, sculpture and ceramics, but they now also study digital photography, video and related fields. In particular, the future Studio for Trans-media Arts and Related Studies (STARS) will allow students and faculty to collaborate in exploring the artistic and interdisciplinary potential of digital technology.