Loyola University in New Orleans is reorganizing its music and arts programs, school officials announced this week, part of an effort to expand its programming and create more student demand for the Uptown school's music, arts and design offerings.

On Monday, officials announced the formation of the new College of Music and Media, created by forming three new schools under the new college's umbrella and moving Loyola forward "into the digital age" by offering a wider variety of degrees.

The College of Music and Media, which enrolls a third of all Loyola undergraduate students, will be organized into the School of Music and Theatre Arts, the School of Communication and Design, and the School of Music Industry.

The new setup replaces the College of Music and Fine Arts, which was composed of the School of Music and four other departments for film and music industry studies, art, design, and theater and dance.

In interviews, school officials said the changes are part of a broader restructuring that will allow Loyola to offer more degrees while expanding its "interdisciplinary learning" capabilities, something that they said has already been undertaken by other fine arts and music schools such as Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee; the Berklee College of Music in Boston; and Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida.

At Loyola, this is being done largely by joining together its "two crown jewels" — the schools of music and mass communication — to offer interdisciplinary programming. 

School leaders plan to create offerings such as an interactive design degree for digital media, a motion degree that focuses on moving or scrolling components in movies and live broadcasts, and degrees in urban and electronic music, said Kern Maass, the college's dean.

Maass said the school wants students to learn how to build a career in the arts in addition to learning more about their craft, and to successfully tap into New Orleans' cultural economy, which ranks as the fifth largest in the U.S., according to a 2017 Americans for the Arts report.

Loyola has always been closely tied to music education. The New Orleans Conservatory for Music and Dramatic Arts was founded in 1919. In 1932, Loyola absorbed the conservatory and turned it into the Loyola School of Music. After restructuring post-Hurricane Katrina, Loyola incorporated other departments with the music school to create the College of Music and Fine Arts.

For years, the school was known for programs including the 60-year-old music therapy program, the music education program and vocal performance, jazz and instrumental studies.

Recently, though, Loyola as a whole struggled to attract incoming freshmen. In 2013, 200 fewer freshmen than expected enrolled, resulting in a sharp drop in revenue that created a $25 million deficit and led to layoffs and other cost-cutting measures.

The school laid off about 6 percent of its full-time staff and temporarily curbed contributions to employees' retirement plans.

But over the past year, finances have improved and the school now has a balanced budget.

Last year, Tania Tetlow, a former Tulane University professor and chief of staff to Tulane President Mike Fitts, was named Loyola's president. She has pledged to put the school on a sustainable path financially while investing in new programs that build on its strengths while meeting the demands of current students. 

One positive sign: Enrollment grew 11.5 percent for the fall 2018 semester.

The new restructuring will help the school look toward the future, in part by catering to the 60 percent of the students in the College of Music and Fine Arts pursuing non-music performance degrees, officials said.

"We continue to stand for excellence in music performance but now also teach students how to create the backbone of the music industry, as managers, producers and agents," she said.

In addition to the changes to Loyola's music and arts programs, school officials also appointed Michael L. Capella as new dean for the university’s Joseph A. Butts, S.J., College of Business.

Capella, an associate dean of graduate and executive programs and professor of marketing at Villanova University's business school, helped create online MBA and master of science in analytics programs at Villanova. His research has focused in part on the interaction of marketing and public policy issues.


Follow Della Hasselle on Twitter, @dellahasselle.