Art Institute of Pittsburgh announces closure

Micah Reese / Student Writer   

On Jan. 22, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh submitted a campus closure plan set to take place March 31. In a letter addressed to Geneva College, the institute said, “The decision was made for a number of reasons, including significantly declining enrollment.” The closure will prevent most students, including one Geneva student, from receiving a degree.  It will also lead to changes in Geneva’s communication department.   

Founded in 1921, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh gave students the opportunity to get a hands-on experience in fields like fashion and film. Their website lists their mission statement as, “To provide an education in design, media arts and culinary that prepares students for individual and professional success.”   

Geneva students with 60 or more credit hours were able to attend the Institute for one academic year since 2009. Most of the students who went through this program were visual communication majors, with one to two students attending per year.    

One Geneva student, Bobby Ann Theiss, attended the institute for the 2018-19 school year. Theiss, who was in the Graphic Design program, said about the closure: “It is so sad to see the Art Institute close so soon. I feel that I still have so much to learn, and because of the early closure, I am worried about my degree. I wish they could last another quarter so I can finish it out. It has been a very stressful time for me and some of my friends in these past few weeks… I’m very thankful that Geneva could figure something out for me to finish the semester, and to graduate on time next year.”  

When asked about student experiences at the Institute, associate professor of Geneva’s communication department, Dr. Rich Talbert, said, “Every student I have talked with has enjoyed their time at the Art Institute, and they learn very specialized techniques. So, in a class where those techniques can come out, they certainly show an ability to do those at a higher level than when they left campus.”   

Geneva College senior Weston Shugarts also spoke highly of the Institute. Shugarts attended the institute’s digital film program from Fall 2017 to Summer 2018. 

“With the Art Institute, they try to send you into the film industry. So, I got to make commercials for companies and work alongside professionals… Employers actually use some of the videos that I’ve made before,” Shugarts said. “It helped me a lot with my skills and future career.”  

Shortly after the announcement of the closure of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Geneva College introduced a new major: communication design. Communication design will replace visual communication and communication studies.