Foty majors they don’t mention on the tour.
As the only first-year dance major last year, Madeline Durmowicz was dancing on her own for a quarter. She performed in a swarm of upperclassmen and non-majors, chasséing to her own beat.
“I didn’t even realize how small of a program it was,” Durmowicz says. “There was a lot of attention, and I’m not a big attention person. Everyone’s focus is on you. When faculty was meeting the freshmen, it was just one freshman.”
Last winter, another first-year switched into the dance major, and a second-year transfer joined this fall. There are now three second-years and 14 undergraduates total majoring in dance. But even so, dance is one of the larger uncommon majors. There are 42 majors across Northwestern’s undergraduate schools with 40 or fewer students — only about 10 students per graduating class.
Weinberg fourth-year Romie Drori is one of 18 classics majors on campus. With a small pool of professors and more seminar classes than lectures, Drori says she feels a “kinship” with others passionate about the material.
“It’s an intimacy you get with your professors that is so, so important and helpful — career-wise, personally and obviously academically,” Drori says. “It’s super small, and you feel it. The same few people may be in your classes. You can tell who’s just there taking it for a distro versus who’s actually engaged and wants to learn.”
Matt Martin, the Art Theory and Practice department assistant, says that being in a smaller department creates an informal environment for faculty and students. He says classes in the department have limited spots since the department has only 27 students, most of whom his office knows by name.
“We have a much more casual attitude here that I think only works with a small department,” Martin says. “I’ve seen some of our majors at show openings for faculty and graduate students. It’s things like that that make it clear that everyone’s close.”
Although the size of the department can make a major more personable, it throws a wrench in funding and resources. Until Kresge Centennial Hall was renovated in 2017, Martin notes that its equipment and facilities were “laughable” compared to that of other universities. He says the Art Theory and Practice department is in a constant struggle with the university’s funneling of resources.
“We unfortunately don’t have a lot of students, but we have a big footprint on the university because we have a lot of facilities and all the programming that we do,” Martin says. “Those two things cause a weird presence for us in regard to how the university thinks about our program versus other departments.”
Durmowicz says she also has this problem; dance is technically in the theatre department, though it doesn’t receive much funding and has only two studios with special dance flooring. However, she says her one-on-one relationships with faculty and her closeness with peers outweigh these problems when she reflects on her experiences in the department.
“There’s just a great community,” Durmowicz says. “We [almost] always do a dance major dinner at the beginning of the year to welcome the new freshmen at Lou Malnati’s. You really get to know the people and faculty and have all those extra resources.”