More than twenty years after the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute was founded, it was granted the power to instruct in higher education at the college level in the field of fine arts. Twenty years later the school became accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. But no matter how the school has grown it says its focus has always been about the students and the community. Interim Dean of the School of Arts says, "That the community has the opportunity to be exposed to that enriches and is beyond what you would expect from a school community. It's something in its history that has been engrained in this community."
In 2000, the school of art formed a new alliance with the world renowned Pratt Institute. The relationship between the two art institutions allows students to gain the best education in Central New York. And Pratt Munson Williams Proctor students are given the history of their proud school. Fine Arts sophomore Samantha Glevick says, "They tell you everything about Pratt, they walk you through the gallery over there where it's like the house of Munson. So they walk you through there and it's like antiques and artwork from back in that time. It's really awesome to see where the history has come from and where we are now."
Each semester the community is inhabited by nearly a thousand students that learn skills and gain experience, bringing a higher level of overall creativity to the community. Communications Design sophomore Connan Moody says, "I feel like art is a good way of therapy in a sense, being able to tell yourself that things are going to be ok, a sense of hope. And I think that in the great Utica community people seek it as a refuge to kind of get away from where they are."
Pratt students aren't the only pupils learning on the Munson-Williams-Proctor campus. The School of Art also caters to the community as well. The Community Arts Education Program offers college level course for members of the community. Community student Diane Davis says, "It's an exceptional opportunity to have an art school right here with wonderful teachers and a lot of people in the community that are excellent in what they do. I think it's such an interesting city, the cultural aspects and the architecture and it's fascinating."