UM Arts College Adds Journalism and New Name

August 16, 2019

John DeBoer leads UM’s newly renamed College of the Arts and Media. MISSOULA – Strategic improvements at the University of Montana have led to a new name and academic offerings for its arts and media college.

The College of Visual and Performing Arts has a new moniker: the College of the Arts and Media.

John DeBoer, interim dean of the college, said faculty members voted to change the name with the addition of the School of Journalism into the college’s academic family. The J-school joins the schools of art, media arts, music, and theater and dance.

“The addition of journalism to our portfolio really strengthens the intersection of artistry, inquiry and the free expression of ideas that is central to the mission the University of Montana,” DeBoer said. “This is an exciting time for our college and our creative, adventurous students.”

There is more than a new college name. The School of Art and the School of Media Arts have merged. The new unit is called the School of Visual and Media Arts.

“The combined strength of both faculties creates one of the largest academic units on campus,” said Kevin Bell, director of the school. “This becomes the only school with two fully online undergraduate degrees at UM. These degrees give studio arts students and media arts students a diverse array of skills important to a range of careers, coupling material-based processes – like drawing, photography and painting – with digital technology and applied art courses. These include illustration, video, web and digital design.”

DeBoer said this innovative curriculum preps graduates for the careers of tomorrow as visual communication becomes increasingly important and ubiquitous.

He said the college’s interdisciplinary offerings will expand as well. After years of work by faculty members, the School of Music and School of Theatre and Dance are launching an option in musical theatre performance. This new program integrates aspects of existing undergraduate degrees in theatre, dance and vocal performance.

“This is the first Musical Theatre Program in Montana and one of the few serving students in the Mountain West,” DeBoer said.

Besides its academic offerings, the College of the Arts and Media houses three popular public service units: the Montana Repertory Theatre (the Rep), the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, and the Montana Media Lab.

The Rep brought 12 new plays to Montana this year, as well as contemporary stories performed across Missoula in cars, hotel rooms and on stages. Each featured UM students, alumni and professionals from across the country. The Rep will open its 2019-20 season with the world premiere of Emily Feldman’s “Go. Please. Go” in the Masquer Theatre.

MMAC welcomed new museum director Rafael Chacón in January. Dr. Chacón, who has taught art history and criticism at UM for 25 years, is working to put more of the state’s oldest and largest collection of publicly held art on view while develop exciting interdisciplinary programming that places the museum at the academic core of the University. The museum will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2020.

The J-school’s new Montana Media Lab launched its first programs this summer with a full slate of hands-on media workshops for all skill levels taught by industry experts. This included intensive training in podcasting, video, mobile media, writing and social media, including outreach in media literacy and digital storytelling to rural and Native American youth in schools across Montana.

The College of the Arts and Media will offer many exciting cultural events during fall semester, including:

  • “Go. Please. Go.” by Emily Feldman
  • “Translating Place: Open AIR Artist-in-Residence Exhibition”
  • BLOCK-Party Custom Woodblock T-Shirt Printing Fundraiser
  • Chamber Music Montana in Chamber Music Under the M
  • Opening Reception for Jack Franjevic: “Montana Modernist”
  • Visiting Artist Reinaldo Gil Zambrano
  • Matt Hamon: “Landscapes and Narrative”
  • PRISM! featuring jazz, choirs, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and more.
  • “The Wolves” by Sarah DeLappe
  • Opera Gala Fundraiser and Silent Auction
  • Annual T. Anthony Pollner Lecture featuring Leah Sottile

More information can be found at


Contact: John DeBoer, UM College of the Arts and Media interim dean, 406-243-4970,