Stanford launches search for next vice president of the arts


This month, Stanford launched the search for a new vice president for the arts with the goal of having the new leader in place by the start of the 2021-2022 academic year. Reporting to the President, the Vice President will represent the arts at the highest levels of government. They will champion the arts as fundamental to the Stanford experience and the university’s mission and develop strategies to support and amplify the work of arts organizations hosted under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President of the Arts (VPA) .

“The sieve of Eratosthenes” by Mark di Suvero (USA, born in China, 1933), 1999. Stainless steel and paint. (Image credit: LA Cicero)

“We have made great strides in the arts on campus thanks to the Arts Initiative and the incredible energy and enthusiasm of our community,” said Matthew Tiews, associate vice president for the Campus Commitment and Acting Senior Associate Vice President for the Arts, whose responsibility in his interim role includes making recommendations on how best to structure and support artistic activities in the next phase of the VPA. “This is an incredible opportunity to bring in a leader who will take the arts to the next level, especially as our COVID experience has made us understand the importance of human connections and the transcendent experiences that the arts can create.

In the next phase of the VPA, opportunities include increasing commitment to community, social justice and culture change; focusing on the role of the arts in emotional and physical well-being, and connecting the arts to the determined nature of Stanford’s mission and long-term vision.

The Vice President’s Research Committee is co-chaired by Tiews and Srinija Srinivasan, Director and member of the Stanford Live Advisory Council. They are joined by nine committee members representing key groups on and off campus: Lanier Anderson, professor of philosophy and senior associate dean for letters and the arts, School of Humanities and Sciences; Janani Balasubramanian, elder, artist and researcher; Melissa Fetter, chair of the Cantor Arts Center Director’s Advisory Board; Lyndsey Kong, undergraduate and student community liaison for the VPA; Peggy Phelan, professor of English and theater and performance studies, former director of the Stanford Arts Institute; Steve Sano, music teacher and director of the chamber choir and symphonic choir; Martin Shell, vice-president and director of external relations; Vaughn Williams, former director and chairman of the Stanford Arts Advisory Board, and Elizabeth Zacharias, vice president of human resources.

In collaboration with the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller, the search committee will make a recommendation to President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, who will make the final decision.

One of the first responsibilities of the new vice-president will be to finalize the search for the next director of the Cantor Arts Center. A separate committee for this research will be launched soon and is expected to make recommendations to the new vice president in the fall.

The Office of the Vice President for the Arts was established in February 2017 to elevate the arts in the university’s priorities and lead the strategic planning of the university’s artistic goals. Harry Elam, president of Occidental College since 2020, has served as Stanford’s Senior Vice President of Arts, a position he has held while also serving as Senior Vice President for Education and Vice President for undergraduate education. The new senior recruit will be the full-time Senior Vice President for the Arts.

Art programs under the auspices of the APV include the Anderson Collection at Stanford University, the Cantor Arts Center, the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, the Stanford Arts Institute, and Stanford Live. The VPA also operates a central office, which provides operational support for all the units mentioned above, and resources for students and faculty. The academic departments of the arts, including Music, Drama and Performance Studies, Art and Art History, and the English Department’s Creative Writing Program, are all housed at the School of Humanities. The new vice president will work closely with the school and other campus partners to ensure the arts are connected and integrated across the university.

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