History of the School

Art has been part of the curriculum at The University of Akron from its inception as Buchtel College in 1870.

1872 — catalog lists courses in “ornamental branches,” painting, and drawing. In the 1890s, offerings increased to include painting on satin, velvet or plush, plus evening courses were offered for the first time. The first art classes were held in the basement of original Buchtel Hall. After that building was destroyed in the fire of 1899, art classes met in Curtis Hall, Phillips Hall and then Carroll Hall.

1919 — The first Department of Art, offering education and liberal arts degrees, is founded. By 1963 the art department had added sculpture, printmaking and ceramics and had a Department Head, Dr. Emily Davis, assisted by five faculty members.

1967 —  The University of Akron becomes a state university. The Department of Art expands rapidly as part of a new College of Fine and Applied Arts. The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program is established — offering an emphasis in painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, metalsmithing, printmaking, graphic design and photography.

1960s — Schrank Hall South becomes the first home of the expanded art department with studios dedicated to specific media areas — but quickly became too small for the growing program.

Mid-1970s — The department has grown into several additional buildings on campus: Service Building #1, South Hall, and a gallery on Exchange Street named for retired department head Dr. Emily Davis.  

1979 — The Department of Art receives accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

1985 — The department moves to our current 67,000 square-foot building named for Harold and Catherine Folk.

1986 — Led by Department Head Earl Ertman, the Department of Art becomes the School of Art and the chief administrator’s title becomes School Director.

1997 — We adopt the name of alumnus Dr. Mary Schiller Myers, an ardent supporter of the arts in Akron and around the country.

2011 — the Myers School of Art — along with UA’s School of Music and School of Dance, Theatre and Arts Administration —  joins the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences as the Division of Fine Arts.

Sharing a Great Name

"We are fortunate to be surrounded by innumerable opportunities to have our lives greatly enhanced by the arts. Hopefully students will be inspired and motivated by having contact with the leaders in their chosen fields." – Mary Schiller Myers

In 1997, the School of Art was named for Mary Schiller Myers, an alumna who was well known and highly regarded throughout the art world as an advocate and patron of the arts. Mrs. Myers earned her BA degree at The University of Akron and a master's degree in art history from Kent State University. She was awarded an honorary doctorate for her lifetime of improving the culture of our region. Mrs. Myers, who died in 2008, served on the boards and committees of many arts organizations, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Art Museum in New York City, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Both Mr. and Mrs. Myers were longtime and generous supporters of students and programs at the School of Art.