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The College of Fine Arts and Communications

Harris Fine Arts Center, home of the College of Fine Arts and Communications, Brigham Young University


The College of Fine Arts and Communications teaches students to think, to feel, to perform, and to communicate. Its purpose is to give students the knowledge and skills requisite to a higher education in fine arts and communications. It opens the doors to the world of truth and beauty for exploration by majors and non-majors alike. Its programs require discipline, critical analysis, research, empathy, and integrity as the means to acquire knowledge and competency in various areas of study encompassed by the college.

The college hosts BYU Arts Production, the Visual Arts Department, Theatre and Media Arts Department, the Department of Dance, the School of Music and the Department of Communications. The college offers Bachelors Degrees in all departments as well as a wide variety of Masters Degrees and two PhDs, in music as well as theater and cinematographic arts. For a full listing of degrees offered by the college, both historically and currently, click here.

Through its performances, exhibitions, newspaper, and broadcast channels, students have shared their creative work and scholarship with the world. Since 1971, BYU performing groups have performed more than 12,000 shows in all 50 states and 100 countries before audiences totaling more than 7 million. Radio and television broadcasts of their performances have reached hundreds of millions.

Individual student accomplishments include top awards at national and international performance competitions and festivals. Student fine arts ensembles and communications teams have distinguished themselves through their breadth of experience and commitment.

The faculty is comprised of talented men and women who are dedicated to the success of their students. The college also brings to campus distinguished professionals for special lectures and artistic performances. Housed in the Harris Fine Arts Center the Richards Building and the George H. Brimhall Building, the college includes five theaters; two concert halls; three art galleries; design, journalism, advertising, broadcast, film, and music laboratories; and many music and dance rehearsal rooms.

The college continually excels in many aspects. The Young Ambassadors, a college performing group continue to tour internationally, sharing the excellent performing programs BYU has to offer. BYU's animation program, has won 11 consecutive Emmy Awards to date. The Universe, the BYU weekly newspaper, run by the Communications Department is continually ranked as one of the best college papers in the country. The College of Fine Arts and Communications continues to enrich, assist and prepare students to lead fulfilling lives and enjoy challenging and enriching careers.


College of Fine Arts Faculty, 1925
Latter-day Saint pioneers loved to dance and sing – and to renew themselves through the arts. After reaching the Salt Lake Valley and establishing multiple communities, the arts remained an important element of the Saints’ lives, which became apparent as they began to educate their children.

In 1875, when Brigham Young Academy was organized, the Saints continued to share their talents with each other. Music was an important part of student life and a choir was quickly organized to sing at religious meetings. Within a matter of years a Department of Music was organized, it existed as an extracurricular body and was overseen by Nettie Southworth from 1883-1885. By the early 1900’s the Academy had a band, orchestra and choir, and music had begun to become integrated with the school’s academic core. Departments were also organized for Art and Speech.

In 1925, under the direction of Brigham Young University President Franklin Stewart Harris, the College of Fine Arts was organized. Harris was a lover of the arts and placed special emphasis on them during his administration. The new college became the first fine arts college in the western United States. It brought together the pre-existing departments of Music, Art and Dramatic Arts and Speech.

With minimal faculty, and only about 100 students enrolled, the College of Fine Arts was born. Dutch immigrant Gerrit de Jong was named as the first dean of the college, serving in that capacity until 1960. During his tenure as Dean, de Jong limited his role in the college to administrative, teaching language courses for the College of Arts and Sciences, but none within his own college. He chose to focus instead on the administrative matters concerned with starting a new college.

The Music Department was comprised of a vocal and instrumental division. At the time the college was created, the department had limited full-time faculty. Robert Sauer, Franklin Madsen, Florence Jepperson Madsen, William Hanson, and Margaret Summerhays conducted all the classes for the department, occasionally bringing in additional specialists as needed.

The Art Department consisted of Bent Franklin Larsen, a 1922 University of Utah graduate, and Elbert Hindley Eastmond, who was hired in 1904. Within the next decade the faculty gained the skills of Verla L. Birrell, Lynn Taylor, and J. Roman Andrus. The Department not only managed the instruction of art, but also began a standing collection of art to be housed at the University. By the end of the Franklin administration they had roughly 700 pieces in their possession.

BYU: The First One Hundred Years Vol. 2

The Department of Public Speaking and Dramatic Arts was originally headed by T. Earl Pardoe, who incidentally did not have a degree when he was first hired at the University but earned his PhD in 1936. The department quickly became known for producing exceptional plays every year. This became a major component of the college’s reputation.

Being organized into a college was a major step for the arts, yet the college still lacked physical housing. The absence of a central building caused problems for students and faculty alike. Musicians in need of practice space would often congregate in bathrooms. Rehearsals for plays and productions were held in the Joseph Smith Building in shifts, one in the afternoon, one in the evening, and one starting around midnight. Musical productions struggled to overcome the poor acoustics in the Smith Fieldhouse. Yet despite the space issues, the programs were academically strong. After attending several rehearsals the 1956 University Accreditation Team reported the arts instruction to be of superior quality.

In 1954 a proposal was finally made to erect a fine arts building. It was, however, pushed aside for several years. On 12 April 1956, Dean de Jong addressed the college faculty on the need for more space. Finally, provisions were made in the 1958 budget to construct the building. The building was projected to cost $5,000,000, 80% of which came directly from the Church. Internationally acclaimed architect William L. Pereira was hired to design the building, and construction on the Harris Fine Arts Center commenced in 1962. It was completed in 1964 at a cost of $7,000,000 making it the most expensive building on campus at the time. It was dedicated the following year by Joseph Fielding Smith.

While the Harris Fine Arts Center was under construction, another major change was made to the college. In 1968, the Department of Communications was added, thus changing the college’s name to the College of Fine Arts and Communications. The new Department of Communications housed the Department of Journalism (formerly housed in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences), the broadcasting programs (formerly housed in the Department of Dramatic Arts), and the photography program (currently housed in the Department of Visual Arts.

After settling into the newly completed Harris Fine Arts Center the college underwent yet another change. Responding to a request from the university administration, the college piloted an academic advisement program. In 1973, the College Advisement Center opened its doors. It was the first center of its kind on campus -- offering one-on-one consultations to students regarding their class schedules and graduation plans. The pilot program was successful and the College of Fine Arts and Communications Advisement Center became a model for similar centers which were started across campus.

In 2014 the HFAC celebrated 50 years as the center for art exploration and learning at BYU and the College began the BRAVO series, a concert series featuring well known performers.


Deans Bruce Christensen (1993-2000), James Mason (1982-1993), Stephen Jones (2003-2015), Lael Woodbury (1973-1982) and Newell Dayley (2000-2003). Taken in 2008.
The college is run under the direction of a dean who works with the University President as well as with college faculty and staff. The Dean presides over the College of Fine Arts and Communications. He strives to enrich the learning experience of the students, and forge friendships with other professionals, venues, programs and cultures through the college. He is assisted in his administrative duties by Associate deans, which are faculty members serving renewable posts of two years. An Assistant Dean and Controller is also hired by the college to assist in managing the college.

The current administration consists of Edward Adams as Dean, Scott M. Boyter as Assistant Dean, and Amy Jensen, Jeremy Grimshaw, and Rory R. Scanlon as Associate Deans.

Past and Present Deans

Past and Present Associate Deans

Past and Present Assistant Deans

Additional Information

Pages in category "College"

The following 4 pages are in this category, out of 4 total.

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