Dean of Fine Arts, College of Fine Arts

District of Columbia, United States
Salary Not specified
Nov 05, 2020
Position Type
Administrative, Deans
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

Howard University

Dean of Fine Arts, College of Fine Arts


Dean of Fine Arts, College of Fine Arts


Howard University


Washington, DC

Reporting Relationship

Provost & Chief Academic Officer


The Opportunity

For over a century, instruction in the fine arts disciplines of art, music and theatre has been woven into the fabric of the educational offerings of Howard University. This is a pivotal moment for Howard as the Fine Arts program, currently housed within the College of Arts and Sciences, transitions back into a free-standing College of Fine Arts once more.

The incoming Dean of Fine Arts will lead this new College and help to author a new chapter in the history of this storied institution. As the chief academic and administrative officer for the College, the Dean will bring an articulated passion for the many forms of creativity found in the College of Fine Arts. The Dean will serve as a tireless advocate for the College, its constituent divisions, and programmatic vision both internally to the University and within the local and global community. This is an incredible opportunity to build on a rich legacy of impact and lead a dedicated team in shaping the College, the University, and future generations of graduates. 

Howard University

Howard University (HU or simply Howard) is a federally chartered, private, coeducational, nonsectarian, historically black university (HBCU) in Washington, D.C. It is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a research university with high research activity and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

From its outset, it has been nonsectarian and open to people of all genders and races. In addition to the over 70 distinct undergraduate programs, Howard has graduate and professional programs in business, nursing, engineering, pharmacy, law, social work, education, communications, art, science, divinity, dentistry, and medicine.

Howard is classified as a Tier 1 University and ranked #80 among national universities, and second among HBCUs by U.S. News & World Report.  The Princeton Review ranked the school of business #1 in opportunities for minority students and in the top five for most competitive students. The National Law Journal ranked the law school among the top 25 in the nation for placing graduates at the best law firms. Howard has produced four Rhodes Scholars between 1986 and 2017. Between 1998 and 2009, Howard University produced a Marshall Scholar, two Truman Scholars, twenty-two Fulbright Scholars and ten Pickering Fellows. Howard is the most comprehensive HBCU in the nation and leads the nation in sending the greatest number of African-American students to medical school. Additionally, Howard University is the number one producer of on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients.

The University has launched a number of exciting initiatives including the Karsh STEM Scholars program, aimed at producing a greater number of STEM PhD graduates of color. Additionally, Tech Exchange, a collaboration with Google® provides an immersive experience to Computer Science students, aimed at increasing diversity in the Information Technology industry.  The Howard Entertainment program is designed to diversity the entertainment industry by creating a pipeline for African-American students and other marginalized populations to train and study alongside entertainment executives.  It offers students a unique interdisciplinary curriculum, coupled with hands-on work experiences and networking with Amazon’s industry partners.

The College of Fine Arts


The College of Fine Arts (CoFA) was first established in 1961 when the School of Music, the Department of Art and the Department of Drama merged. In 1998 CoFA was merged with the College of Arts and Sciences, and the three constituent departments of Theatre Arts, Art, and Music became the new Division of Fine Arts.

The Howard University Board of Trustees has recently approved the re-establishment of the College of Fine Arts effective academic year 2020/2021. It is this newly free-standing College that will build on the previous successes and forge an even more formidable future. Howard has produced many of the nation’s outstanding professionals across all the disciplines of the fine and performing arts. Alumni including major artists, actors, dancers, musicians, composers, art historians, visual artists, and playwrights, who have gained national and international prominence. In addition, ancillary programs such as the University Choir, University’s Marching Band, the Howard University Gallery of Art, and the Department of Music’s ensembles The Howard University Jazz Ensemble and Afro Blue, have all achieved renowned status and enhanced the reputation of Howard University globally. 

The College of Fine Arts (2020)

Though the Fine Arts programs have existed within a variety of structures over Howard’s history, the commitment to quality and impact have remained the same. The programs graduate approximately 70 to 100 students annually. Collectively, the three Departments comprising the College of Fine Arts offer a total of 31 specialized programs that feature 21 areas of undergraduate study, and 11 areas of graduate study.                 

The Fine Arts programs are currently served by 51 full-time and 27 part-time faculty members. Faculty members have extensive experience as professionals working in their fields of study and/or as teachers in their subject areas. Many are well known nationally and internationally for their contributions to scholarship and arts production. The programs require the Master of Fine Arts degree, Master of Music, or the professional equivalent for appointment to the rank of assistant professor for studio faculty appointments in the art, music, and theatre arts. The Doctor of Philosophy or the equivalent terminal degree is required for appointment to rank of assistant professor in art history.

The College offers the Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) degrees in various disciplines in Art and Theatre, the Bachelor of Music (BM) degrees in various disciplines, Master of Fine Art (MFA) degrees in various disciplines, and Master of Music (MM) degrees in various disciplines.

Howard University is accredited nationally for instruction in the arts, as managed by Departments within the Division of Fine Arts.     

  • The Department of Art - National Association of Schools of Art and Design
  • The Department of Music - National Association of Schools of Music (making Howard the first NASM accredited music program in the Washington DC area in 1942)
  • The Department of Theatre Arts - National Association of Schools of Theatre


The Department of Art

In harmony with the University’s mission, the Department of Art is committed to graduating socially conscious professional artists/designers and scholars who have the ability to articulate their ideas visually and verbally in a technologically driven world. Empowered by their knowledge of the arts, humanities, sciences and digital technologies, our artists, designers, and scholars are prepared to serve society on a local, national, and global level. The primary goal of the Department is to present a multifaceted educational program of study that distinguishes itself as “unique and advantaged” by offering a professional degree program that is enriched by academic support from: The College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Communications; the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Computer Sciences; and the School of Business.

The Department of Music      

The Howard University Department of Music is a professional fine arts unit.  Its purpose is to attract diverse students of high artistic and academic potential and provide for them a scholarly environment and musical experience of exceptional quality in performance, research, pedagogy, technology, therapy, and composition. The Department is dedicated to attracting and retaining faculty of the highest order who work together to inspire students, through example and leadership, to reach their full intellectual and artistic potential. The Department of Music places particular emphasis on the provision of educational and cultural opportunities for individuals of the global community, with significant focus given to the musical contributions of peoples of the African Diaspora.                     

The Department of Theatre Arts       

Howard University's Department of Theatre Arts is dedicated to the continued growth and development of African American theatre by training competent professionals in the fields of Acting, Dance Arts, Musical Theatre, Theatre Arts Administration, and Theatre Technology. The Department is committed to fostering an environment that encourages research and experimentation in performance, thereby pioneering innovative forms of drama and dance that best enable African American artists to speak in their own distinctive cultural voice. The Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) programs are professional programs designed for the student interested in seriously pursuing a career in the performing arts. These programs focus on a series of application and research-intensive courses leading to the development of a body of techniques that will serve as a foundation for their entry into the field. The program seeks to "ground" the student's ''voice" within the tradition of the Diaspora and continue the legacy of the departmental founders.

Position Summary

The Dean of the College of Fine Arts serves as the chief academic and administrative officer for the College. The Dean is responsible for developing and implementing innovative academic and financial strategies, recruiting faculty, students and administrative staff, and has responsibility for developing an organizational structure that will serve to promote superior research and educational arts programs of the highest caliber.

Howard seeks a visionary Dean with the highest academic standards, demonstrated leadership acumen, experience making strategic decisions to optimize resource usage, dedication to excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, a record of promoting outstanding interdisciplinary research, and an ability to promote the College of Fine Arts externally to develop diversified funding opportunities, industry partnerships, and increase philanthropic support.

The next Dean will be collaborative in developing a team-focused commitment to transparent leadership and collegial faculty relations. The Dean will possess superior communication skills, political adeptness, entrepreneurial energy, and data-driven approaches to problem solving, as well as a demonstrated commitment to building, mentoring, motivating, and maintaining a culturally diverse faculty and staff.

Key Responsibilities

The Dean for the College of Fine Arts will have an exceptional opportunity to lead, inspire, and set new course on the institution’s development and evolution. The arts world has shifted into a discourse around innovative and impactful pedagogy and that same shift has to happen at Howard.

The Dean is responsible for all program and unit activities within the College; leads planning, administrative, personnel, fundraising and program development efforts to build and sustain excellence in College operations; and is the principal representative of the College and its constituent programs and units. The Dean works collaboratively and closely with students, faculty, staff, other Deans, and university leadership.

Specific responsibilities will include, but not be limited to the following: 

  • Develop, implement, and monitor the teaching, scholarly, creative, and service missions of the College.
  • To motivate and engage fine arts students, faculty, and staff so that people are excited and inspired.
  • Provide leadership, administering the policies established by the University and College, overseeing faculty and staff development, maintaining rigor and accreditation of programs, and facilitating communication within the College, the University, and the community.
  • Oversight of existing and new facilities for each Unit/Department and drive efforts for growth.
  • Implement best practices in student learning and be committed to innovation in teaching and academic programming.
  • Support diverse educational contexts and build inclusive partnerships.
  • To advance the educational mission of the University, the Dean will promote student recruitment, success, and retention.
  • Support interdisciplinary and facilitate growth in research and grants.
  • Effectively manage the College's resources and facilitate the generation of new funds.
  • Work collegially and constructively with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other stakeholders to lead the strategic direction of the College of Fine Arts.
  • Provide leadership to ensure that the academic programs are innovative, respected and inclusive of the fine arts communities.
  • Foster an environment that attracts and retains the very best fine and performing arts faculty, staff, and students.
  • Demonstrate an entrepreneurial mindset using a strong business acumen to support capital improvements including cultivating private donors that will enhance vital relationships with alumni, colleagues, and the wider arts community.
  • Seek opportunities for collaboration with other local institutions and performance and fine arts venues while maintaining key relationships with multiple constituencies.
  • Excellent analytical, communication, and interpersonal skills, be committed to the University’s values of excellence in truth and service, and be prepared to join academic and administrative colleagues in maintaining the high quality of education for its students while moving the institution forward in national and international distinctions.
  • An innate ability to drive consensus.
  • Perform related duties as assigned or required to meet Department, Executive Area/Division, and University goals and objectives.

Year One Success Factors

  • Immersive approach to understanding and identifying strengths, challenges, and opportunities for growth for the re-establishment of the College of Fine Arts.
  • Inspire collaboration and global perspective across all CoFA departments to promote value proposition throughout university and wider.
  • Continue to expand fundraising efforts to meet current and future needs of CoFA students, faculty, and programs.
  • Ensure that CoFA has a clear voice in the larger university conversation.
  • Work with faculty and Chairs to develop innovative curriculum to recruit top students.
  • Take significant steps toward bringing the entire College together and align with achievable, measurable, and collective goals.
  • Partner with the Provost and Senior Leadership Team to increase CoFA profile on and off campus.

Key Relationships

Reports to: Provost & Chief Academic Officer

Direct reports/Leadership:     Associate Deans, Assistant Deans, Administrative Chairs, and a team of administrative, finance, and support personnel


For this pivotally important leadership role and moment in time, Howard University seeks an innovative and strategic fine arts practitioner, academic leader, and advocate with an articulated passion for the many forms of creativity found in the College of Fine Arts. This leader must know, acknowledge, and embrace the great history of fine arts at Howard, and must be a confident visionary with the continued path. The arts cut across every country and culture and there is a need for the Dean to emphasize that and be able to carry and live that message.

This position calls for vision; breadth and depth of experience, good judgement, intellectual leadership skills; a collegial focus; and the ability to lead and motivate in an interdisciplinary intensive and inclusive environment. There is an articulated want and need to collaborate more widely and to build bridges for undergraduates and graduate students and to bring Howard out into the city and beyond.  The Dean must be able to make these connections and to establish new relationships and deepen the existing ones. This leader must have the skillsets and gravitas to continue a full model integration of fine arts into the community. 

The successful candidate will bring many of the following skills and qualities:

  • Minimum of fifteen years of experience in management positions with progressively increasing responsibility.
  • Proven ability to facilitate and reach consensus in committee structure with senior administration and with peers both externally and internally. Demonstrable commitment and proven experience building a diverse and inclusive environment and experience in engaging a community to reflect those values.
  • Management style that is goal-oriented but flexible and innovative, which respects the capabilities, independence, and diversity of fine arts faculty and staff in accomplishing organizational objectives, but also provides them with a clear sense of direction.
  • Willingness to circulate widely, communicate openly, listen well and learn from others.
  • Experience creating collaborative, inclusive, trusting, team cultures.
  • Experience in faculty and staff recruitment and development, and sensitivity to the unique needs of a community of practicing professionals and practitioners.
  • A thorough understanding of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, leadership technique, human behavior and performance, and the coordination/collaboration of people and resources.
  • Excellent oral and communication skills. The ability to relate well to the College’s diverse constituencies and respective art forms. Public presence and the inclination to be a visible spokesperson for the College.
  • Keen ability to develop relationships with existing partners as well as new partners and underrepresented communities of artists and practitioners.
  • Results-driven, a high level of maturity, sound business and financial acumen, proven leadership skills, and demonstrated success in leading an arts organization, department, or division with measurable results.
  • A consensus-driven leadership style with a demonstrated ability to create, plan, share, and implement an organizational vision.
  • A collegial style that reflects mutual respect, engenders trust, and motivates people to work in highly effective teams.
  • The executive presence and integrity to inspire confidence and teamwork with staff.
  • Unquestionable ethics, integrity, transparency, and accountability in all actions.
  • A high degree of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, warmth, approachability, and humility.
  • Commitment to continuous self and organizational improvement.
  • Creative, passionate, accessible, transparent, resilient, flexible, tenacious, and optimistic.


A Master’s degree required, a terminal degree (PhD. EdD, MFA) in a related discipline preferred, and 15 or more years of relevant experience.


Competitive compensation ranges and detailed benefits packages will be provided to candidates.

Howard University is committed to providing equal opportunity in employment as well as in its education programs and activities. To maintain a workplace in which all employees are treated with respect and decency, Howard University prohibits any discrimination or harassment based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, family status and responsibilities, personal appearance, political affiliation, marital status, gender identity, or expression, genetic information, matriculation, unemployed status, or any other classifications, activities or conditions protected by applicable law.

Application Process

Interested and qualified candidates are invited to submit a resume and cover letter to: 

Please also direct any questions or nominations to this address.


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