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Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts closing its college at end of 2024-25 academic year

By Tom Dougherty

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    PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (KYW) — Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the first art school and museum in the United States, is ending its college at the end of the 2024-25 academic year, its president said Wednesday in a letter published online.

PAFA’s museum will remain open, and its certificate programs, commitment to K-12 arts programs and continuing education will remain in place, according to the letter.

“This change affects our degree-granting programs only,” PAFA President Eric Pryor wrote.

Pryor cited “rising costs, expanding requirements and dwindling enrollment” behind PAFA’s decision to end its degree-earning program. He added juniors, seniors and masters of fine arts students on track to graduate in 2024 or 2025 will still be able to do so.

Both the college’s bachelor of fine arts and MFA programs will end instruction at the end of the current academic year, Pryor said.

PAFA leadership claimed it would help 37 first-year and sophomore students transfer to local schools “with minimal disruption.” Pryor said the school has entered personalized transfer agreements with University of the Arts, Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Moore College of Art & Design, Arcadia University and Pennsylvania College of Art and Design.

The decision to close PAFA’s college became official Tuesday after a unanimous vote by its board of trustees.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts was founded in 1805 by painter and scientist Charles Wilson Peale, sculptor William Rush and a group of artists and business leaders.

“Although we will no longer operate the BFA and MFA programs after 2025, we will continue to pursue the arts education mission at the core of PAFA’s 218-year history,” Pryor wrote. “In many ways, the decision to end these degree-granting programs presents PAFA with an opportunity to return to our roots — arts education for the lifecycle of the artist. PAFA, at its heart, is a community of artists and art-lovers, and we will not waiver from our commitment to American Art, its creation, appreciation, and stewardship.”

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