Light & Verity

Art student sues for reinstatement

Expelled from two-year MFA program.

When Annabel Osberg was admitted last year to the painting program at the Yale School of Art, the 17-year-old from Upland, California, was one of the youngest students in recent history to win a place in the highly selective Master of Fine Arts program. However, she may not become one of the youngest to receive a Yale MFA.

Osberg was expelled from the two-year program in June. But on July 10, she sued the art school, asking for her immediate reinstatement.

"We believe that Ms. Osberg's claims have no merit," said university spokesman Tom Conroy in a statement to media.

Osberg says that she received an academic warning letter on March 24. On April 1, she met with School of Art dean Robert Storr and Peter Halley ’75, the painting program's director of graduate study. Osberg says that she was told then that expulsion was likely but that a final decision would not be made until after her spring-term review on May 2. "The dean and Halley said that it had been a mistake to accept me," says Osberg. (Administrators declined to comment on the case.)

Osberg, a home-schooled summa cum laude painting graduate of California State University-San Bernardino, asserts that the art school has been "irresponsible and uncaring" in its dealings with her. "I never received any formal notice that I'd been expelled -- other than a notice taped to the door of my studio telling me I wouldn't be allowed to return." Her lawsuit accuses the school of failing to observe its own procedures for academic evaluation and dismissal, as well as locking her out of her studio and apartment without the required notice.

In the complaint, Osberg's attorney, John Williams, pointed out that the art school's Bulletin states that students who have received warnings during any term "will have until the end of the following term" to remedy the situation. Conroy, however, said that Yale "followed its procedures in all respects in making its decision not to promote Annabel Osberg to the second year of the MFA program."

"I deserve another semester to prove myself," says Osberg.

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