A state lawmaker, in a social media post, says a billboard advertising dance studies instead of other degrees at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is “not OK.”
“They lease a sign to encourage computer science degrees or math teachers? No, they push for dance majors,” Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, wrote Monday on Twitter.
The lawmaker said that for that reason, higher education does not need increased funding.
“Lots of hardworking Arkansans subsidizing this,” Hester said.
The billboard along Interstate 30 shows a dancer to the words "dance major" and features the statement: “Unlimited pathways. Close to home.”
Why higher ed does NOT need increase funding. They lease a sign to encourage computer science degrees or math teachers? No they push for dance majors. Lots of hardworking Arkansans subsidizing this! Not ok @UALR pic.twitter.com/CaRCVQD0qi— Bart Hester (@BartHester) February 5, 2018
I disagree with this on so many levels. As an artist and a dancer, I have seen the arts influence, inspire, challenge, and transform society. Art education is crucial in the advancement of Arkansas. https://t.co/Nns8G4c6kU— Savvy Janine Shields (@SavvyJanine) February 7, 2018
Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields, who is studying art at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, took issue with Hester’s comments in a reply.
“I disagree with this on so many levels,” she said. “As an artist and a dancer, I have seen the arts influence, inspire, challenge and transform society.”
Shields added that art education is “crucial in the advancement of Arkansas.”
State Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Berryville, also chimed in on Twitter, questioning Shields' stance on the issue.
“Really, how so? How is art education crucial to the advancement of Arkansas?” Ballinger asked.
Judy Williams, UALR's associate vice chancellor of communications and marketing, said the billboard is one of several marketing tools in a campaign that features students in various programs.
"Our university offers the only dance performance program in Arkansas," Williams said in an emailed statement. "This is only one ad in the campaign."
Other UALR programs spotlighted include engineering, biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, economics, nursing and American sign language.
Williams said the marketing campaign "is designed to introduce prospective students and the community to the variety of majors and programs that are available."