The USC Roski School of Art and Design graduating MFA class of 2015 has launched a petition today, July 16, demanding the removal of Dean Erica Muhl from leading the internationally-renowned program.
On May 15 this year, the entire first-year MFA class withdrew, amid allegations of a retroactively dismantled funding model and drastic changes to the existing faculty structure and curriculum.
Now, the 2015 graduating class – including Jacinto Astiazarán, Lena Daly, Orr Herz, Veli-Matti Hoikka, Sofía Londoño, Alli Miller, Alana Riley and Fleurette West – have launched the petition to remove Dean Muhl citing charges of “breaking funding and curricular promises”, and “alienat[ing] students, faculty and alumni and offer[ing] convoluted and untruthful information to the public obfuscating the devastating impact of her actions and the failure of her administration”.
See their statement below and you can sign the petition here:
“16 July 2015
Dear President Nikias, Provost Quick and Mr. Edward P. Roski Jr., Chairman of the Board of
Trustees of the University of Southern California:
We, the 2015 graduating Master of Fine Arts class of the Roski School of Art and Design, are
writing to express our feelings of loss and alarm over the May 15th, 2015 withdrawal of our
esteemed classmates and the events that have unfolded since that time. We echo our fellow
alumni’s recent letter expressing disbelief in the systematic downward trajectory that Dean Erica
Muhl’s tenure has steered the world-renowned Roski MFA Program.
Our experience negotiating Dean Muhl’s unwillingness to reasonably communicate curricular
changes significantly encumbered our degree progress at USC. Over the past year, we felt
increasingly ostracized from our own program. After many meetings with Dean Muhl and her
staff, it became clear that our investment was not one the Roski administration wished to
understand or support. The administration’s consistent lack of transparency, evasive
communication and persistent belittling of its students resulted in the significant loss of respected
faculty members and staff during the 2014-15 school year. We struggled through the noise of a
program in crisis that reached breaking point with the withdrawal of the class of 2016, which was
unprecedented but not unexpected. During our final Summer 2015 semester, our studio facilities
lay nearly empty, bled of a once robust community with ties to a broader cultural discourse and
its accompanying support systems.
Dean Muhl has alienated students, faculty and alumni and offered convoluted and untruthful
information to the public in an attempt to obfuscate the devastating impact of her actions and the
failure of her administration. USC is sheltering a highly paid administrator who has operated
unethically by breaking funding and curricular promises to its students. In continuing to allow
Dean Muhl to maintain her position, USC is demonstrating that it does not honor its
commitments to its students.
These disruptive tactics have made it clear to us, as well as the public at large, that Dean Muhl
disregards and fundamentally misunderstands the needs of a graduate-level studio art program,
despite the valuable advice of our committed faculty. In light of the stated losses, we are
requesting that the University remove Erica Muhl as Dean of the Roski School of Art and Design,
as she has proven herself unfit to uphold the charge of leadership in the field of fine arts higher
We celebrate the bonds we have formed with our peers and faculty, whom we thank for
strengthening and engaging us beyond the limits of the institution. These relationships have
proven unshakable in the face of the strategic dismantlement of a formerly renowned studio arts
program. Following such a quick downfall, our sincere hope through this effort is for a
reevaluation of the future of the program to which we enthusiastically dedicated ourselves the
past two years.
The USC Roski MFA graduating class of 2015“