uarts at 140:
the maker’s

In every generation, it is the makers who lead the way.

For 140 years, the University of the Arts has been a crucible for the brave and divergent thinkers who imagine what comes next. We are a community of art makers, innovators, vision shapers, boundary crossers and groundbreakers. We are the nation’s only university of the arts. We are change makers and it is our time. 

It is the maker’s

“I am incredibly excited about the future of this creative community.”

— David Yager

letter from president
david yager

We’re celebrating history in the making—140 years of making art, creating change and changing what it means to create. In every generation, it’s the makers—artists, designers, performers—who lead the way and help us understand what it means to be human, solve complex problems, sustain communities, and transform the way we experience the world and relate to each other. Artists are the brave, unconventional thinkers who ask the hard questions and never question the need to think in unexpected and imaginative ways.

I came to UArts because I respected the University’s historic role and recognized its remarkable potential. The University’s faculty, students and alumni have demonstrated, and will continue to demonstrate, the power and impact of the maker’s perspective. As an artist, educator, entrepreneur and consumer of the arts, I am invested in, and dedicated to, our University as the center of our city’s—and the nation’s—most creative community.

We welcome you to share this landmark Maker’s Moment with us. UArts was formed in 1987 from the union of two esteemed institutions, the Philadelphia College of Art and the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts, which trace their origins to the 1870s. Today, UArts is one of only two colleges in the country dedicated to undergraduate education in the visual, performing and literary arts.

I am committed to excellence and building creative capital. At the University of the Arts, our obligation and our passion is to educate citizen-artists prepared to solve real-world problems and change the conversation. Nothing can replace technical skill and expertise or may be more important than the capacity and the bravery to imagine the unimaginable. UArts is shaping artists who are contributing to and leading academic and commercial enterprises all over the world, and setting trends and influencing our region, the nation and the future of the arts.

I am proud to call Philadelphia my new home. My dream is for our students to be at home anywhere and everywhere they can impact their communities. The University has made its mark on history by focusing—through the unique intersection of technical training and commitment to innovation—on the future.

Please join me in marking this milestone year and envisioning the next 140 years. Every day in the life of an artist is a maker’s moment.

David Yager

David Yager
The University of the Arts

of events

140th Anniversary Series


Visiting Writers Series: Kevin Moffett
Terra Hall: Caplan Recital Hall

Kevin Moffett is the author of two story collections and a collaborative novel, The Silent History, which was first released as an app for mobile devices and is currently in development at AMC.



3/13/17 - 3/18/17

A weeklong series of ensemble and senior performances that will feature a different theme each night, celebrating the diversity and creativity of the School of Music. The final night will culminate with a reception and performance featuring alumni guest artists that celebrates the centennial of legendary drummer Buddy Rich.


William H. Ely Excellence in Illustration Awards & Senior Thesis Exhibition
3/15/17 - 4/2/17
Reception: 3/19/17, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Hamilton and Arronson Gallery, Solmssen Court

Annual juried competition and exhibition, featuring art that spans virtually every area of the illustration field

Visiting Writers Series: DAVID GREENBERG
6:30 p.m.
Terra Hall: Connelly Auditorium

UArts faculty member David J. Greenberg's feature-length writing-directing debut, Stomping Ground, premiered at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival in 2016. His numerous writing credits include the indie films What Matters Most (2012), Used to Love Her (2014) and the documentary Bonnie & Clyde: Lovers On the Run (2015).


3/28/17 - 4/1/17
7:30 p.m., except 4/1 when each show runs in succession beginning at 11 a.m.
Merriam Theater and Arts Bank

Festival of four new musicals, offering professional composers, librettists and directors an opportunity to develop their work among the rich creative community of the Brind School at UArts.


Art Unleashed Exhibition & Sale
4/7/17 - 4/10/17 (open to the public)
Opening Night Party (ticketed): 4/6/17

This annual event raises critical scholarship funds for UArts students.


Fine Arts, Craft + Material Studies senior Thesis Shows
4/17/17 - 5/8/17
Hamilton Hall: Solmssen Court


Visiting Writers Series: HEATHER Tone
Terra Hall: Connelly Auditorium

Heather Tone is the winner of the 2016 APR/Honickman First Book Prize for her manuscript “Likenesses,” chosen by guest judge Nick Flynn. The book will be published in September 2016 and distributed by Copper Canyon Press through Consortium. This event is co-sponsored by The American Poetry Review.

Film + Video Senior Show
Gershman Hall: Levitt Auditorium

Animation Senior Show - 2 P.M.
Combined Film + Video AND Animation Show - 5 P.M.

Gershman Hall: Levitt Auditorium



The Process: School of Design Thesis Exhibition
5/1/17 - 5/11/17
Reception: 5/6/17, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
The Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch St.

Annual senior thesis exhibition by undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Design.


MFA Book Arts + Printmaking Thesis Exhibition
5/1/17 - 5/12/17
Reception: 5/4/17

Thesis exhibition by MFA candidates

For more information, please contact the Office of Advancement at 215-717-6135
For more events at UArts, please visit

A look back at our kickoff events

10 /16 /2016

creative black tie GALA
Hyatt at the bellevue
200 S Broad St
Philadelphia, PA

On October 16, we celebrated 140 years of art making with an evening full of entertainment from UArts’ acclaimed dancers, musicians, visual artists and actors, along with a very special performance by Leslie Odom, Jr., winner of Grammy and Tony Awards for his role as Aaron Burr in the Broadway smash Hamilton.

UArts students, faculty, alumni and supporters gathered at the Hyatt at the Bellevue to toast our esteemed makers and to honor UArts’ longtime trustee and benefactor Eleanor Davis, Professor Emeritus Stephen Tarantal, and others for their accomplishments in the arts.

The University also announced the creation of the Effron Family Endowed Chair in Glass, UArts’ first endowed chair, thanks to the generosity of Brian Effron, a longtime UArts trustee, and his wife Sherry Effron.

Leslie Odom

10 /17 /2016

Inauguration of president david yager
250 S Broad St
Philadelphia, PA

In a unique and dynamic ceremony that also featured dance, theater and musical performances, the University inaugurated President David Yager on Monday, Oct. 17. The ceremony was held at the Merriam Theater. In his address, President Yager asked the audience to close their eyes and imagine a University of the Arts of the future, one that is the most provocative, imaginative, entrepreneurial, socially engaged, authentic and influential school of the arts in the country.

“Mark today in your calendar, as we celebrate 140 years and this inauguration. We are standing at the threshold of something new… the University of the Arts will be what it has always been—distinctive and bold—and it will be like something we have never seen before. Because that is our obligation—and our passion—as artists and makers.”

In addition, honorary doctor of fine arts degrees were awarded to Stan Lee, the Marvel Comics legend; Ron Yerxa, a film producer known for the Oscar-nominated Nebraska, as well as Little Miss Sunshine and Cold Mountain; and Freeman Hrabowski III, prominent educator and president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). The ceremony also included greetings and congratulations by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who declared the day “UArts Day” in the city of Philadelphia. University of the Arts Board Chair Jeffrey Lutsky served as the master of ceremonies for the event.

The Inauguration celebration is available as an on-demand stream here.

David Yager


PMSIA student work in metal, 1904-05 catalog

The museum of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (now Philadelphia Museum of Art) was first located in Memorial Hall.

PMSIA classroom, circa 1898, in Hamilton Hall

Philadelphia Musical Academy commencement announcement detail. Res severa est verum gaudium = A serious effort creates true joy.

PMSIA was founded to take advantage of the Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia. Memorial Hall, shown here, served as the art gallery for the Centennial.

Poster design by PMSIA student Gertrude Hark, 1904-05 school catalog. First color reproduction of PMSIA student artwork.


Philadelphia Musical Academy (PMA) founded by Johann F. Himmelsbach, Rudolph Hennig, and Wenzel Kopta


The Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (PMSIA)


Philadelphia Conservatory of Music (PCM) founded by Richard C. Schirmer


Philadelphia Textile School is added to PMSIA


PMSIA purchase of Hamilton Hall


PMA amalgamates with the Frederick Hahn Conservatory


Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art


PMSIA receives from the State Council of Education the privilege of awarding Bachelor of Applied Art degrees

PMSIA student work, circa 1888, by Mary Louisa Price

PMSIA Textile School students in Hamilton Hall. Courtesy of Philadelphia University

Philadelphia Musical Academy faculty, 1905

PMSIA purchased Hamilton Hall in 1893 after having occupied four previous locations.

Members of the PMSIA Art & Textile Club baseball team, circa 1900. Courtesy of Philadelphia University.

Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, 1935 graduating class

Faculty, left to right: Aurelius Renzetti, William Parry, guest Alfred Auerbach, Richard Reinhardt

Nadia Chilkovsky Nahumck, left, and Martha Graham. Graham often visited Nahumck while in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Museum School of Art evening 1950-51 catalog cover (detail)

Philadelphia Museum School of Art students, circa 1953. Photo by Joseph Nettis.

Philadelphia Museum School of Art 1955-57 catalog cover, designed by Irving Penn, PMSIA Class of 1938.

Illustration students, 1951. Photo by Joseph Nettis, Class of 1953.

Philadelphia Museum College of Art 1959-61 school catalog cover

Agnes De Mille signs books at the Philadelphia Dance Academy, 1962.

Hamilton Hall in the 1950s. Photo by Joseph Nettis, Class of 1953.



Nadia Chilkovsky Nahumck founds the Children's Dance Theatre, which later becomes known as the Philadelphia Dance Academy (PDA)


Philadelphia Museum School of Art


Philadelphia Museum College of Art


PMA and PCM join and continue under the name of PMA


Philadelphia College of Art (PCA). The College officially separates from the Philadelphia Museum of Art in June, 1964


PMA becomes Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts (PCPA)


PDA, after long working relationship with PMA, officially merges with PCPA on September 20 and becomes the School of Dance


Philadelphia College of Art (PCA) and Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts (PCPA) go under PCA management

Philadelphia College of Art Annual 1965, cover page

PCA faculty in the 1965 Annual: Mitzi Melnikoff, Edna Andrade, Larry Curry, Robert Keyser, Brie Taylor

Philadelphia Dance Academy students on 1965 cover of Center City Philadelphian

PCA Indusrial Design students behind Hamilton Hall, circa 1964-65

Richard H. Reinhardt and William P. Daley, UArts professors emeriti

Professor Richard Reinhardt crafts the head of new University of the Arts mace, circa 1987.

Scene from performance of
"The Death and Life of Sneaky Fitch".
Directed by Walter Dallas.
Performed Nov. 16-19, 1989 at the Black Box Theater, 313 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA


Philadelphia College of Art merges with PCPA to become Philadelphia Colleges of the Arts


On July 16, Philadelphia Colleges of the Arts is granted university status by the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education and becomes The University of the Arts


The College of Media and Communication begins and accepts its first freshman class


Multimedia program begins, with Chris Garvin as the first director


Communication major is added to CMAC


"Philadelphia" is dropped from the names of the College of Art and Design and the College of Performing Arts in order to unify the names of the colleges, including the new College of Media and Communication (founded in 1996)


CMAC is dissolved and programs are merged into UArts College of Art, Media and Design


In 2016, student life at UArts continues to thrive. Makers from all around the world gather here in Philadelphia to craft, inspire, collaborate and foster in a new creative community.

Designed and developed by UArts faculty and alumni at Allemann Almquist & Jones, Philadelphia.

Photography by Steve Belkowitz, Kevin Merinsky, Paul Waters, Christy Pessagno, Julie Mack and Ian Douglas.

University of the Arts archival photography and timeline curated by Sara Jean MacDonald and Phoebe Kowalewski.



Patricia & Gordon Fowler
Karen Lotman
Jeff & Meredith Lutsky
Harriet & Larry Weiss




Mary Louise '51 & George B. Beitzel
Eleanor L. Davis
Brian & Sherry Effron
Sonny & Miriam Mandell
Ron & Suzanne Naples






James G. Fulton, Jr. '72 & Eric Rymshaw
Gail Kass & Roy Friedman
Elaine C. Levitt
Alan Rubin & Fred Manfred
John & Leigh Middleton
Thomas M. Miles '75
Larry & Norma Reichlin
Laurie Wagman



korn ferry





M. Brian & Bridget Blake
Dawn A. Calzada & Joseph G. Charma P '16
Ralph Citino & Lawrence Taylor
Suzanne & Norman Cohn
Ruth Fine '62
Robert & Penny Fox
Vivian '63 & Bill Gast '68
Mark & Vivian Greenberg
David & Patricia Holveck
Bruce & Arlan Kardon
Sondra & Morey Myers
Zoe Pappas
Timothy & Sally Rub
Peter & Kathleen Solmssen