Belmont University and Watkins College of Art announced today their intent to merge, with Watkins College of Art beginning a transition to Belmont’s campus following the completion of this academic year. The governing boards for both Belmont and Watkins unanimously approved the plan. Pending approval of SACS COC, the accrediting body for both institutions, the transition for Watkins’ programs and students to their new home at Belmont University will occur with the Fall 2020 semester.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “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. This merger will enable us to accelerate and elevate art education in the Southeast and beyond.”
The agreement formally joins two institutions that already share a strong academic partnership as Watkins and Belmont students have previously been able to take select courses at both institutions. Moreover, the addition of the Watkins College of Art follows on the heels of Belmont’s 2018 merger with the then Franklin-based O’More College of Design, which strengthened Belmont’s fine arts portfolio while adding new programs in fashion and interior design. The addition of Watkins further fortifies Belmont as the center for art and design in the region.
“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.”
With the agreement, Belmont will house all of Watkins’s current undergraduate academic programs. Students currently majoring in fine arts, graphic design, illustration, photography and art will join Belmont’s fine arts programs in the newly created Watkins College of Art, while Watkins interior design students will join peers in the O’More College of Architecture and Design. Watkins’s film major will merge with Belmont’s renowned motion pictures program in the Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business.
The property where Watkins College of Art currently sits will be sold with proceeds being used to create an endowment to support scholarships for Watkins students.
The creative climates fostered at both schools, along with shared missions focused on transformative and service-minded education, create a formidable union. In addition to the financial stability, resources and expanded reach Belmont offers, the partnership provides Watkins students with an array of opportunities not currently available, such as study abroad possibilities, dedicated career development staff and increased options for general education courses.