Barbara Drucker, who chairs the art department, and Ron Athey, a visiting instructor who taught the course and was present during the performance, conducted a meeting at the Warner Building a week after the incident to dispel rumors and allow students to air any concerns, as well as to emphasize rules against possessing weapons on university property, a university spokeswoman said. Athey, known for piercing and cutting his body as a form of performance, did not return calls.
A graduate student who attended the meeting said a few students expressed safety concerns but more were alarmed that the university, if it disciplined the artist, would be cracking down on freedom of expression.
UCLA has 11 remaining tenured art professors. Those contacted declined to comment about their colleagues' retirement; others did not return calls or referred them to university spokespeople.
Christopher Waterman, dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture, said Friday that he didn't foresee the art department losing stature despite the abrupt loss of professors he described as "world-renowned artists, great creative forces."
"Change is a natural thing, and we're looking forward to conversations" about strategy for shaping the department's future in the search to fill the two vacant professorships, he said.