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

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.


Phyllis Moore, Ph.D.

Professor, Chair of the Liberal Arts Department, and Program Head of the Creative Writing Program

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.


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 and Ray Beagle Chair of Art History

Rebecca Dubay, associate professor and Ray Beagle Chair of art history, specializes in art from 1945 to the present. Her research interests include art of the 1960s, the politics of abstraction, gender studies, and migration. Dubay has presented her research at conferences in London, Frankfurt am Main, Nijmegen, and Washington DC, among other cities. In 2018, she was honored with KCAI’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Before joining KCAI, Dubay taught in the M.F.A. in studio art program at Moore College of Art and Design. She earned 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.


Michele Fricke, M.F.A.


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.


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.

As a social historian, Dr. Katz’s biography of the first African American basketball coach inducted in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, sheds a powerful light on how sports have been one of the primary mediums for breaking down racial barriers in American society, and has inspired three documentary films on ESPN, PBS, and most recently in 2021 on CBS. The link to this latest one is below.

John McLendon Documentary

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

Associate Professor

Jordan Stempleman is the author of nine collections of poetry including Cover Songs (the Blue Turn), Wallop, and No, Not Today (Magic Helicopter Press). He is the co-editor of The Continental Review, editor for Windfall Room, faculty advisor for KCAI’s literary arts magazine Sprung Formal, and curator of A Common Sense Reading Series. Stempleman is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where he was a Leggett Schupes Fellow in Poetry. And in 2013, The Huffington Post listed him as one of “The Top 200 Advocates of American Poetry.”

Author website:

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.