by Jessica Ingold
Here at Finlandia University we have a great art and design program. Students in the International School of Art and Design (ISAD) learn how to experiment with different materials and how to develop our concentrations. As art students we not only pay tuition, but also pay an additional lab fee of $300.
Some ISAD students guess, but don’t really know, where the money we spend goes. Some like to joke around and say it is for the professors’ salary. Margo Anderson; sophomore in the Studio and Fine Arts major, said, “I don’t really know where the money goes; I figured it just went to supplies.”
According to ISAD Dean Denise Vandeville, Margo is partly right when she guessed it goes for supplies. In addition, Dean Vandeville said, She said, “a greater quantity of it goes toward capital expenses which are the pieces of large equipment we run. It goes toward purchases of kilns, looms, printers, and large equipment like that. For instance 2 years ago we got a new safety saw in the wood shop that cost $12,000, and CS4 for all the computers cost roughly $7,000, so basically it’s for the big equipment and then the expendable supplies.”
The ISAD fee is, in part, influenced by Dean Vandeville’s experience as a Finlandia undergraduate, as well as with student fees at larger universities. “When I started at Michigan State,” she said, “we had to pay a lab fee and we had to buy all of our supplies.” Meanwhile, at Finlandia, she was familiar with the benefits of having materials supplied by the school: “Because it’s so remote and there’s not a big art store down the street, I was very glad that I didn’t have to worry about that.” …
Margo agreed. “I mean, I like not having to buy all my supplies myself because I’d be even more broke than before.” She also said, “I believe it is a reasonable price because I use more than the $300 I pay each year and other school have way larger amounts to pay.”
Dean Vandeville clarified that freshmen and sophomores use the same materials in a class as a group, so a lot of these initial supplies are paid for and provided. By the time they are seniors, students’ work often becomes more specialized. At this point, some of those materials are provided for while some the students cover on their own.
Dean Vandeville said that she feels that Finlandia does a good job of providing the capital expenses—the “big ticket items” in a balanced way—that is, we have what we need, and it’s very good compared to other schools, yet it’s not “over the top.”
She adds that the fee practice is “like at any art and design school—because it costs more to deliver the education than, say, a math class [where] you’re doing a lot of writing on the chalk board and you’re not going to need the big equipment to learn math, unlike with art.”
Dean Vandeville said that she understood why students question on the practice, and favors more transparency on the issue. She said that since she’s started as dean, ISAD has spent between $9,000 – $25,000 to update equipment over the summer. “I do think it’s something that people wonder about. When you’re beginning you’re like “well, how much can some paper and pencils cost?” So I’m glad that you are doing this article because now people will know where it really goes.”