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August 12, 2020

Roberts Launches Associates Degree in Arts and Culture

Program made possible by competitive National Endowment for the Humanities grant

Beginning in fall 2020, Roberts Wesleyan College will offer a new Associate of Science (A.S.) degree program in Arts and Culture. Through exposure to a well-rounded liberal arts curriculum rooted in history, literature and the fine arts, students will be equipped with the necessary critical thinking skills and foundational knowledge to serve in a variety of professional settings or continue their education in Bachelor’s-level programs. The first of its kind in the college’s history, this new program uniquely combines the arts and culture into one degree and is the only A.S. degree option offered at Roberts delivered fully online. Designed specifically for working professionals, the program can be completed in 12-24 months and consists of 32 total credit hours.

The program is made possible by a $73,046 grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in July. As reported by the RBJ, the NEH awarded more than $2.3 million in grants statewide to support local cultural nonprofits and educational programming. Following a competitive application and selection process, Roberts Wesleyan was one out of only two local institutions in the Finger Lakes Region to receive this critical funding—the George Eastman Museum also received $135,000 in support of its digital programming. The investment from the NEH marks the first federal grant Roberts Wesleyan has received in more than 40 years and will allow the college to retain full- and part-time positions in the Humanities.

Funding for the NEH grants was championed by local representatives, including U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Joe Morelle.

“We’re grateful to Rep. Morelle for his ongoing support of higher education and for helping institutions like Roberts Wesleyan continue our important work of educating students,” said Deana L. Porterfield, president of Roberts Wesleyan College. “Funding for a program like this not only preserves a focus on the Humanities and all they offer to students but also enables Roberts Wesleyan to offer this critical training for Rochester workers to enhance their skills and knowledge, preparing them for a diverse set of entry-level jobs. This funding benefits the college and our students as well as the Rochester community.”

The development of this program is integral to Roberts Wesleyan’s strategic plan that includes adding new programs and degree offerings relevant to today’s students and workplace. The A.S. in Arts and Culture was approved as an accredited program by the New York State Education Department in early May and will be housed within the college’s School of Arts and Humanities.

“According to a 2018 Association of American Colleges & Universities survey of executives and hiring managers, the top traits most needed for a successful career include oral and written communication, critical thinking, problem solving, ethical decision making and application of knowledge to real-world settings,” said David Basinger, chief academic officer at Roberts Wesleyan College. “Humanities builds these traits with courses in a variety of different areas including writing, art, history, literature, music, film and culture. The program exposes students to a broad base of foundations, theories and frameworks in the fine arts in order to better engage in culture and communicate about issues related to faith, society and work.”

Roberts Wesleyan College was founded by B. T. Roberts, an abolitionist and social reformer, on the principle of making a transformational education accessible for all people. Aligning with that mission, this cost-effective program will be offered at a reduced rate of half the cost of the college’s other undergraduate degrees. Financial aid will also be available to eligible students enrolled in the program. For more information about the program or to apply, click here.


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