Pall Thayer is an artist.
a-hem... 'your' = 'you're'
Who knows, maybe that's the problem in LA. Too many MFA's running around thinking that their degrees make them good artists.
I've never heard anyone make the claim that an art degree "distinguishes excellence". If anything, it distinguishes academicism. Shows that your comfortable with a certain approach towards art but says nothing about its quality as art.
I would think that a program that challenges your views and sensibilities would be more rewarding. Agreeing with each other for 2 to 3 years doesn't add a lot.