Thomas Jefferson University and University of the Arts Announce Undergraduate Collaboration

PHILADELPHIA — Two storied Philadelphia universities - renowned for advancing creativity curricula in order to prepare students to thrive in the 21st century - are partnering on new course offerings to undergraduate students this Fall in response to a growing need for advancing creativity in the U.S.

Under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by leadership at Thomas Jefferson University and University of the Arts, undergraduate students from either university will be able to take select classes at the other at no additional charge.

In addition to offering more robust academic opportunities for students, leadership at both universities also anticipate the partnership will promote a deeper level of collaboration among faculty members at Jefferson and UArts.

“In University of the Arts, we have an academic partner aligned with our belief that cultivating creativity in students is vital to impactful 21st century education,” said Mark L. Tykocinski, MD, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost of Thomas Jefferson University. “By sharing expertise and resources in the realm of creativity between our institutions, we are ensuring unparalleled academic experiences for our students, all right here in Philadelphia.”

In 2017, Jefferson, home of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College – one of the first medical schools in the country - stunned the higher education world when it merged with Philadelphia University, nationally known for textiles, design, engineering, fashion and architecture. The new Jefferson continues to promote the humanities across its disciplines to teach the human skills of empathy, creativity, design thinking and compassion, and just this year announced a creativity core curriculum for undergraduates.

UArts’ mission is to advance human creativity and became the first university in the country to offer a PhD in Creativity. Throughout its more than 140-year history, UArts has educated generations of groundbreaking artists, performers, designers and creative leaders.

“This partnership will not only allow for unique curricular experiences for our students, but will accelerate the ways in which our communities are able to share knowledge and ideas for future collaborations,” said Carol Graney, Vice President for Academic Affairs at University of the Arts. “We are eager to see how our students will take advantage of this opportunity, and what other educational possibilities will emerge as our communities become closer.”

The MOU is not the first or only collaboration between the two institutions. Most recently, Jefferson has agreed to serve as an advisor to UArts on health protocols relating to a safe reopening of the arts institution in the heart of Center City Philadelphia. UArts has long partnered with Jefferson’s Department of Family and Community Medicine for primary care services of their students, and could not be more pleased to expand this relationship during this critical time.

In addition, UArts and Jefferson recently collaborated on a joint research proposal for the use of virtual reality modeling to identify and improve design flaws associated with physician burnout in an academic Emergency Department settings. The project is to be based within Jefferson’s Emergency Medicine department and Health Design Lab, and leverages University of the Arts’ new Center for Immersive Media, a 5,600 square foot facility devoted to emerging and new technology. 

“In a post-pandemic world, I believe that creativity will be the most essential skill our students need for success, and that life as we know it will be shaped and defined by it. Those who employ it will challenge entrenched assumptions and conventions, seek and establish the meaning of chaos, loss and tragedy—of which our times have delivered more than its share—and demonstrate the resilience gained through the trait which makes us human: creativity,” said David Yager, President & CEO of University of the Arts. “We could not be more pleased to expand our partnership with Jefferson in meaningful ways that demonstrate the relevance creativity holds for all disciplines.”

All three of these unique collaborations signal the beginning of a fruitful partnership, with the potential for collaboration around additional programmatic partnerships geared to forefront design and transdisciplinary scholarly activities, and exploring the intersections between art, science and the human experience.

"I believe that once we take down the walls between our institutions, our students and faculty will find a hundred new ways to collaborate," said Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, president of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health. "The future of higher education, and indeed of professional work, depends on the freedom to work across traditional disciplines, indeed to redefine what's possible."


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About Thomas Jefferson University

Thomas Jefferson University is a leader in interdisciplinary, professional education. Jefferson, home of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College and the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, is a preeminent university delivering high-impact education in 160 undergraduate and graduate programs to 8,100 students in architecture, business, design, engineering, fashion and textiles, health, science and social science. The new Jefferson is re-defining the higher education value proposition with an approach that is collaborative and active; increasingly global; integrated with industry; focused on research across disciplines to foster innovation and discovery; and technology-enhanced. Student-athletes compete as the Jefferson Rams in the NCAA Division II Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.

About University of the Arts

University of the Arts’ mission is simple: to advance human creativity. Established in 1876, UArts believes creativity is the most essential skill for success in today’s society and has educated generations of groundbreaking artists, performers, designers and creative leaders for more than 141 years.

After being granted university status in 1987, University of the Arts became the largest institution of its kind in the nation, offering programs in design, fine arts, media arts, crafts, music, dance, theater and writing. It now features 30 undergraduate arts majors, 15 graduate programs and the nation’s first PhD program in Creativity. UArts is also home to innovative centers across disciplines, including the Center for Immersive Media, Lightbox Film Center, Philadelphia Art Alliance and Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery. Learn more about UArts