Howard Joyner’s outdoor painting class, circa 1940
More than 75 years ago, North Texas Agricultural College (now UT Arlington) Dean E. E. Davis had a grand idea: Create an art department before The University of Texas at Austin had one. He sought an experienced artist and educator who would give the program instant credibility. In 1937 Davis hired Howard Joyner, who had studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in France, the University of California, and Harvard College. World War II decimated art class enrollments, but Joyner had a plan that would boost the war effort and increase participation. He received classified material from the War Department and began teaching camouflage painting to the Marines and Navy men of the V-12 Unit at the college. The move is widely credited with saving the art program. Before he retired, Joyner saw one of his longtime dreams become reality when UT Arlington instituted a bachelor of fine arts degree. He died in 1996. Today the Art and Art History Department boasts more than 800 student majors and received National Association of Schools of Art and Design accreditation in 2008. Photo courtesy of Special Collections, UT Arlington Library.