Liberal Arts

Freedom of the mind

Through multiple lenses of history and art history, philosophy and literature, creative writing and the sciences, KCAI’s liberal arts program provides you with the kind of intellectual, civic, and aesthetic grounding that is both meaningful and lasting.  “Chance,” said Pasteur, “favors the prepared mind.”

We offer our students a liberal arts education with no expiration date

  • Small classes
  • An accomplished faculty—practitioners themselves in their respective disciplines
  • An opportunity for innovative student work grounded in fundamentals
  • A mutually-supportive thoroughfare between liberal arts and studio practices

Students can double their career possibilities


Every single professor is an expert in their field. They proved to me how necessary a broad education is in a world where a highly- specialized education is more often made a priority. Now I have four years of conversations to return to and build upon in my research and studio practice.

Molly Dillon
Creative Writing/Painting, 2015

Full-time Faculty

Michele Fricke, M.F.A.

The Ray Beagle Chair in Art History

Michele Fricke teaches ancient and renaissance art and the history of textiles and ceramics. A practicing artist, Fricke creates fiber work that has been shown in exhibitions across the country and which also is represented in many private collections. She has been published in Ceramics Monthly and Fiberarts and is a regular contributor to the Surface Design Journal. Her current research involves an investigation of historical architecture, interpreted in knitted form. Fricke received KCAI’s “Excellence in Teaching Award” in 1993. She has spoken at numerous venues including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the National Association of Colleges of Art and Design, the Red Star Studio in Kansas City, and recently, at Baylor University on “Fiber Art: The New Dynamism.” Before coming to KCAI in 1988, she taught at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.; St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind.; and the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. At the last two schools, she also served as the director of exhibitions. Fricke earned a B.S. degree in education, an M.A. degree in art history and an M.F.A. degree in fiber from Northern Illinois University.


Phyllis Moore, Ph.D.

Professor & Chair

Dr. Phyllis Moore is the author of A Compendium of Skirts, a collection of short stories (Carroll & Graf, 2002).  She is Chair of the Liberal Arts Department, Program Head of the Creative Writing Program, and co-director of the Paris Study Abroad Program.  She earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her stories have been listed in the Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize anthologies. Her stories and poems have been reprinted in various anthologies and special editions, and she is the recipient of five arts council grants from the states of Illinois and Florida. She is presently at work on a book of minute fiction titled The City Wife.  In 2011, she was honored with KCAI’s Excellence in Teaching Award.


Anne Boyer, M.F.A.

Associate Professor

A widely-published poet and essayist, Anne Boyer has been teaching at the Kansas City Art Institute since 2007. Her latest book, Garments Against Women (Ahsahta, 2015) spent four months as the Small Press Distribution number one bestseller in poetry. Recent essays have appeared in Guernica, Fullstop, The New Inquiry, and Mute Magazine. Her teaching areas include experimental writing, aesthetics, gender studies, and digital culture. Critical appraisal of Boyer’s contributions to poetry and poetics is discussed in Piotr K. Gwiasdá’s 2014 book, U.S. Poetry in the Age of Empire, 1979-2012. She was voted “Best Writer” of 2014 in The Pitch’s annual “Best of Kansas City” issue. Boyer earned an M.F.A. with distinction in creative writing in 1997 from Wichita State University and a B.A. degree in English literature in 1996 from Kansas State University. Before coming to KCAI, she taught creative writing and literature at Drake University in Des Moines. Author website:


Cyrus Console-Soican, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Cyrus Console-Şoican is the author of Brief Under Water (Burning Deck, 2008), for which he received a Fund for Poetry award, The Odicy (Omnidawn, 2011), and Romanian Notebook (FSG, 2017). Recent poetry has appeared in BrickCritical QuarterlyHarper’s, and Paris Review.  He holds a B.S. degree in organismal biology from the University of Kansas, an M.F.A. degree in writing from the Milton Avery Graduate School of Arts at Bard College, and a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from the University of Kansas.


Steve Cromwell

Associate Professor

Steve Cromwell teaches history of photography, history of film, contemporary European art, Latino art of the 20th century, 19th century painting, aesthetics and art criticism, women in contemporary art, modern sculpture and American art since 1945. Formerly an exhibiting artist, Cromwell’s mixed media photographic work has been shown in many solo, invitational, group and juried exhibitions throughout the United States. Cromwell has been a visiting artist and lecturer for a number of special programs and colleges. He has served as photo editor of The Cottonwood Review literary magazine at the University of Kansas, and as editor of Words, a literary magazine at Kendall College. He has been a member of the KCAI faculty since 1972, and he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kansas.


Rebecca Dubay, Ph.D.

Associate Professor in Art History

Rebecca Dubay, Ph.D., joined the KCAI faculty in 2011 as an assistant professor of art history, specializing in contemporary art and theory. Her teaching interests include global contemporary art, art theory and criticism, art and gender, and more. Previously, she taught in the M.F.A. in studio art program at Moore College of Art & Design. As a graduate student, she received outstanding teaching awards at Bryn Mawr College and Tufts University. Dubay received a B.A. degree in art history and business management from the University of South Florida, an M.A. degree in art history from Tufts University, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in the history of art from Bryn Mawr College.


Milton Katz, Ph.D.

Professor, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty

Dr. Milton Katz teaches classes in American history and literature, the Holocaust, and peace and conflict resolution. He is the author of three books, and over two dozen articles, book chapters, essays and reviews on peace and social justice movements in contemporary American history. He has also presented lectures on art of the Holocaust in educational, community, and religious institutions throughout the United States and Europe. Dr. Katz has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Missouri and Kansas Humanities Councils, and the Mellon and Fulbright Foundations. In 1998, he received the Kansas City Art Institute’s Special Project Award, the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2001, and, in 2007, the Distinguished Achievement Award. In 2008, he
received the prestigious William Rockhill Nelson Award for Literary Excellence by Missouri and Kansas authors in non-fiction for his book Breaking Through: John B. McLendon, Basketball Legend and Civil Rights Pioneer.

Jan Kennedy, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Program Head of the Art History and Asian Studies Programs

Jan Kennedy joined the faculty at KCAI in 2006, previously working as a lecturer at KCAI and adjunct assistant professor at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan. She received a B.A. in the history of art and English literature, an M.A. in the history of art, and a Ph.D., all from the University of Kansas. Her major area for her Ph.D. was 17th Century Dutch and Flemish paintings and prints, and her minor areas were Venetian Cinquecento painting and Japanese painting of the Edo period. More recently, she was a keynote speaker presenting her current area of research on the Christian art of Japan. Kennedy is a member of the College Art Association, the Historians of Netherlandish Art and the Association for Asian Studies.


Eleanor Lim-Midyett, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Eleanor Lim-Midyett, Ph.D., has taught at the Kansas City Art Institute since 1994. She received a B.A. degree in English literature from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in East Asian languages and literature from Yale University. She was also a writer for AMagazine: Inside Asian America.


Jordan Stempleman

Assistant Professor

Jordan Stempleman is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where he was a Leggett Schupes Fellow in Poetry. In addition to lecturing at KCAI, he is the author of eight books of poetry including Wallop and No, Not Today (Magic Helicopter Press). He co-edits The Continental Review, a video-only forum for contemporary poetry and poetics, and serves as the faculty advisor for KCAI’s literary magazine, Sprung Formal. Since 2010, he has curated A Common Sense Reading Series, which pairs KCAI creative writing students with established writers. In 2013, The Huffington Post listed Stempleman as one of “The Top 200 Advocates of American Poetry.”


Art History Major

The art history program stimulates and enriches critical thinking, intellectual inquiry, investigation, research and analysis between liberal arts and the studio disciplines. Investigating art historical methodology and scholarship within the context of a studio-based environment provides the student with insights and perspectives regarding the relationships between concept and practice. Read more about art history.

Studio Art in Creative Writing Major

The creative writing program encourages contemplative, broadly educated artists whose training and work in visual media and literary genres will be mutually supportive. Here, the visual arts and the literary arts share the goal of accuracy of vision. The strength of the program lies in its interdisciplinary and multi-contextual nature. Read more about creative writing.


Whether you major or double-major in creative writing, you will have over 50 courses to choose from to meet your requirements. For additional electives and liberal arts courses download the complete Course Catalog.

Lower-division required core courses:

First-year Seminar

  • Art History I
  • Art History II
  • History of Thought I
  • History of Thought II

Upper-Division required electives:

  • Art History
  • History
  • Literature
  • Philosophy
  • The Sciences
  • Liberal arts electives

At least 5 of these upper-division classes must be taken at the 3000 level or the 4000 level.

At least 1 of these upper-division classes must be a class in global/comparative studies.

Other Choices Students Have to Fulfill their liberal arts requirements

Study Abroad Program to Buenos Aires – This program offers a course in art history.  For more information, e-mail Dr. Reed Anderson at

Study Abroad Program to China – This program offers a course in art history.  For more information, e-mail Dr. Jan Kennedy at

Study Abroad Program to Florence (SACI) – This program offers a course in art history.  Find out more here or for even more information, e-mail Jessie Fisher at

Study Abroad Program to France – This program offers a course in art history and a course in creative writing.  For more information, e-mail Dr. Phyllis Moore at

Study Abroad Program to Vietnam and Cambodia – This program offers a course in history.  For more information, e-mail Dr. Hal Wert at

Even More Choices


  • Directed Individual Studies
  • Internships
  • Mobility programs to other colleges in the U.S. and abroad