UC San Diego’s University Art Gallery made headlines last year when the space lost its funding and only full-time staffer. CityBeat reported that some UCSD professors thought the space would ultimately close while others held out hope.
In recent weeks, though, all remaining hopes were squashed when it became clear that the gallery would become a classroom in order to accommodate a swelling student population.
“Proposals to fund the gallery have been put forward recently, but the university must evaluate these options in the context of other pressing needs,” according to a university statement. “Since 2014-15 the undergraduate population has grown by almost 1,700. We will add approximately 1,300 students in 2016-17, and UC San Diego has a mandate to further increase enrollments in the two years that follow.”
A report released earlier this year called out the UC system for its increased enrollment of higher-paying nonresidents, making it more difficult for California residents – some more qualified than their out-of-state counterparts – to gain admission to the schools.
Ricardo Dominguez, an associate professor in the arts department, said when he and fellow staffers found out that the gallery was being turned over for use as a classroom, they were left scrambling to find new space for exhibitions that had already been scheduled.
Luckily, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego agreed to host an exhibition of graduate students’ work in its downtown location, something Dominguez said UCSD officials tried to spin as an example of the school strategically “turning its lens to the greater San Diego community” by “taking our students and their work to the public.”