Dean, School of Fine Arts

Position Description

The University of Connecticut (UConn), one of the nation’s leading public research universities, seeks a visionary and dynamic leader to serve as Dean of the School of Fine Arts. UConn seeks candidates with a comprehensive resume of success in academic leadership roles and who can demonstrate exceptional skills and experience that will enable them to provide strong leadership to a research and educational enterprise across multiple campuses.

The dean will provide strategic vision and operational leadership to all aspects of the academic and scholarly program, setting priorities for the School of Fine Arts and guiding it towards strategic goals of enhancing scholarship, promoting research and outreach, and providing excellence in professional and graduate education in an academic setting with a diverse population of students, faculty, and staff. The dean is the school’s chief advocate, promoting its goals and achievements, leading its development and fundraising activities, and speaking for its mission of excellence in scholarship, teaching, and public service. The dean will be the school’s public voice, promoting initiatives within UConn and across the state, and articulating the school’s contributions at the local, state, regional, national and international levels. In pursuing these responsibilities, the dean, who reports to the provost, will work collaboratively with the provost and vice provosts, other deans, department heads, and directors.

The successful candidate will be a nationally recognized, self-assured, entrepreneurial leader prepared to advance the initiatives and priorities of the University’s academic vision. Candidates will be expected to broaden participation among members of under-represented groups; demonstrate through research, teaching, and/or public engagement the commitment to, and support of, diversity in the learning experience; and provide leadership in developing initiatives designed to meet the needs of diverse learning styles and intellectual interests. In addition, the ideal candidate will be an independent thinker dedicated to collaborative governance, will possess a leadership style that values diversity and difference, will be a sophisticated administrator capable of building strong working relationships, committed to the search for new knowledge, and able to imagine new possibilities for the School of Fine Arts.

The School of Fine Arts

UConn is the state’s flagship institution of higher education and includes a main campus in Storrs, CT; four regional campuses throughout the state in Avery Point, Hartford, Stamford, and Waterbury; and 13 Schools and Colleges, including the Law School in West Hartford, and Medical and Dental Schools at the UConn Health campus in Farmington.

The School of Fine Arts balances artistic and cultural legacies with the innovative approaches and techniques of contemporary art. In so doing, the School of Fine Arts serves students at the University of Connecticut in both their educational and their professional development. As a cornerstone of our teaching philosophy, the School of Fine Arts is particularly committed to creating an intersection between our educational activity and the various professional industries connected with our disciplines. This approach emphasizes various forms of experiential learning, and includes faculty and institutional engagement with the professional arts world outside the university.

All four of our academic departments - Art and Art History, Digital Media and Design, Dramatic Arts, and Music - offer degrees at the graduate and undergraduate levels, graduate certificates, and enrichment programs. The School of Fine Arts is located on the main campus in Storrs but, is active at all four regional campuses, specifically offering a degree in Digital Media and Design on the Stamford campus. We emphasize creative and academic achievement, innovative interdisciplinarity, career readiness, and diverse and global perspectives on the arts. Our academic programs are supported by the University’s exhibiting and performing arts venues, which include the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, William Benton Museum of Art, Contemporary Art Galleries, Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, von der Mehden Recital Hall and Von Schlippe Gallery (Avery Point Campus).

The Leadership Opportunity

UConn will welcome a dean who thrives on innovation to develop, organize, and manage new initiatives. The faculty and staff at the School of Fine Arts are deeply committed to their students, their research, and to public engagement. The dean will articulate a vision for the School of Fine Arts, defining its role in research and teaching within the University community, the state, and the nation. From that vision, the dean will shape the organization and, with the faculty and staff, configure, create, and grow programs and attract a student body to realize their success.

The dean will make critical contributions to the continued development of the School of Fine Arts. This is an extraordinary opportunity for an individual with the drive, skill, and experience to bring creative leadership to the organization and to play a meaningful role in shaping its future. The new dean will embrace these opportunities, helping to realize the potential of the school. The dean will build on a solid foundation to contribute to the school and its diverse constituents, as well as the University community at large, to address key challenges and pursue important opportunities. The dean will cultivate a welcoming hiring and work environment for BIPOC faculty and students.

Specific opportunities include:

  • Provide visionary and strategic leadership to the School of Fine Arts;
  • Hire, guide, and support excellent faculty and staff;
  • Oversee financial decisions and create clear and efficient processes, staffing, and structures;
  • Support and promote a diverse and inclusive culture;
  • Participate in articulating the University’s vision and strategic plan;
  • Cultivate opportunities for development, fundraising, and alumni engagement;
  • Pursue strategies to sustain and grow enrollments.

The Position

Reporting to the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs for all matters, the dean is the chief academic and administrative officer of the School of Fine Arts, responsible for providing strategic vision and operational leadership to all aspects of the academic and scholarly program.

Reporting to the dean are 1 associate dean (Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, Research, & Creative Practices), 4 department heads, 2 academic program and institute directors, and 4 directors of exhibiting and performing venues. In addition, the office of the dean of the School of Fine Arts is staffed by an Assistant Dean and Chief Operating Officer and a team of administrative, marketing, advising, IT, financial, and development professional staff. In total, at this time, the Dean of the School of Fine Arts has 17 direct reports.


  • In partnership with senior university administrators, assure the campus environment appropriately enables and supports academic goals, objectives, and programs;
  • Partner with faculty, staff, and students to maintain a climate of civility and collegiality through effective communication and a strong commitment to enhancing the quality and diversity of the campus population;
  • Oversee academic departments, interdisciplinary institutes, and programs, exhibiting and performing arts venues, and other academic activities within the school. Collaborate with faculty, academic department heads, and deans to identify instructional needs;
  • In support of University goals and priorities, promote the School of Fine Arts through communications and public relations efforts critical to the success of the school/college, including building relationships and partnerships with alumni, civic, youth, historical, visual and performing arts, and other groups and organizations. Assist the President and Provost in representing the University on matters related to its core missions of research, education, and outreach. Partner with the UConn Foundation to assure robust fundraising and alumni relations;
  • Collaborate with the Vice President for Enrollment Management to recruit and retain high-caliber students. Develop and nurture relationships with K-12 schools, community colleges, and other educational institutions to recruit these quality students to UConn and increase enrollment of qualified students;
  • Collaborate with the Department of Public Safety, Facilities Operations and Building Services, University Information Technology Services, and Planning, Design and Construction Services to assure a safe, secure, productive working environment for the conduct of research and instructional activities;
  • Provide leadership, direction, and oversight to School/college employees, including hiring, promotion, tenure and review, professional development, discipline, training, and promotion of all direct reports. In consultation with University officials, the dean will appoint endowed faculty chairs and professorships and increase faculty awards and fellowships. Represents the School/college in labor-related procedures;
  • Advance the scholarly activities of the faculty, including disciplinary opportunities, in support of the University’s research mission;
  • Assure the school offers a positive learning environment and students receive appropriate support services. Coordinate closely with university offices to enhance access to course offerings through on-line education, assure programs available to meet the needs of various student groups, and assure the campus operates in accordance with University-wide policies and practices regarding student conduct, disability services, counseling and mental health services, behavioral threat assessment, and other important student affairs functions. Advance undergraduate education and, in partnership with the Dean of the Graduate School, graduate education within the school;
  • Implement and uphold academic rules and regulations and promote academic integrity;
  • Effectively manage academic resources and prepare and manage the school’s annual operating budget. Prioritize the allocation of resources to support the university’s academic mission and plan;
  • In support of university and campus priorities, develop capital improvement proposals. Assess the need for and make recommendations about equipment acquisitions and facilities renovations and upgrades;
  • Perform other duties as required.

Minimum and Preferred Qualifications

Minimum Qualifications

  • A rank of Professor translatable to one of UConn’s schools and colleges;
  • A terminal degree in a relevant field (Ph.D., M.F.A, D.M.A. or Equivalent foreign degrees);
  • At least 5 years of senior administrative experience;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of core management functions;
  • Clear experience with managing strategic priorities;
  • Familiarity with university policies, guidance, best practices, and procedures.

Preferred Qualifications

  • At least 10 years of experience in progressively responsible leadership positions in higher education;
  • Background and experience pertinent to the unique programs and setting of the school/college, including a clear understanding of the academic vision of the university, the land grant mission of the university, and the school/college’s goals and opportunities to deliver quality undergraduate and graduate education;
  • Proven business and political acumen commensurate with the leadership needs of school/college, including the ability to navigate the organizational, political, and fiscal realities unique to a major public research university; demonstrable experience applying sound judgment; and an ability to manage change, resolve conflict, and build consensus;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to develop, engage, and maintain constructive and professional relationships with senior administrators, faculty, staff, students and other individuals and organizations;
  • Demonstrated commitment to enhance the diversity of the University population, including assessing needs, developing initiatives, and applying best practices;
  • Demonstrated ability to analyze, understand, and interpret complex situations and problems, evaluate options, devise and propose solutions that align resources with goals, implement plans, and measure outcomes;
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively in a diverse organization. Excellent written and oral communication skills and the ability to communicate needs, plans, and programs effectively;
  • Experience in oversight of a performing/exhibiting venue;
  • Experience as an agent of innovation and change, achieving excellence across a complex organization.

Nomination and Application Process

The University of Connecticut has retained the services of the executive search firm Parker Executive Search to conduct this important search. The full position profile can be found at:

The Search Committee invites letters of nomination, applications (cover letter, full resume/CV, and contact information of at least five references), or expressions of interest to be submitted to the search firm. Cover letters should include a robust statement on the candidate’s familiarity and comfort with diversity, equity, and inclusion and examples of their leadership in those domains. Review of materials will begin immediately and continue until the appointment is made. It is preferred that all materials are submitted prior to September 1, 2023. For additional information, please contact:

Porsha Williams, Vice President
Erin Raines, Senior Principal
Delando Crooks, Associate

Parker Executive Search
Five Concourse Parkway, Suite 2875
Atlanta, GA 30328
770-804-1996 ext: 117

All employees are subject to adherence to the State Code of Ethics, which may be found at

All members of the University of Connecticut are expected to exhibit appreciation of, and contribute to, an inclusive, respectful, and diverse environment for the University community.

The University of Connecticut aspires to create a community built on collaboration and belonging and has actively sought to create an inclusive culture within the workforce. The success of the University is dependent on the willingness of our diverse employee and student populations to share their rich perspectives and backgrounds in a respectful manner. This makes it essential for each member of our community to feel secure and welcomed and to thoroughly understand and believe that their ideas are respected by all. We strongly respect each individual employee’s unique experiences and perspectives and encourage all members of the community to do the same. All applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status.

The University of Connecticut is an AA/EEO Employer.