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U. announces new vice provost for the arts

Michael Steinberg will assume new role focused on expanding arts

Updated Monday, Nov. 24 at 2:41 a.m.

Michael Steinberg, director of the Cogut Center for the Humanities and professor of history, will become the University’s first vice provost for the arts starting Jan. 1, Provost Vicki Colvin announced in a community-wide email late Friday afternoon.

The mid-year appointment comes as the University launches efforts to expand the arts — efforts that will include pursuing several goals for the arts outlined in President Christina Paxson’s strategic plan, Colvin wrote.

As the next few years under the strategic plan unfold, Steinberg hopes to infuse the arts into each student’s course of study, regardless of that student’s particular focus, he said.

There are several ways to integrate the arts into other departments, Steinberg said. These include hiring academics who study the arts, such as a scholar who researches the cultural implications of music; hiring talented professional artists in temporary or permanent positions; and offering students the opportunity to work in the professional artistic world, he added.

Steinberg also intends to establish a “global observatory” program that would offer “undergrads, grad students and faculty a chance for serious exchange with scholars in Berlin.”

If a program with Berlin were successful, he said the University would look to expand similar opportunities for international collaboration to other cities in the hopes that students and faculty members could understand “the world from the perspective” of whatever city in which they study the arts.

Administrators first got the sense that an administrative position for the arts might be necessary when the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts was built, Colvin told The Herald. Making the most of Granoff’s facilities and planning further construction of campus performance spaces necessitated an administrative position to oversee the advancement of arts programming and facility development, she added.

Brown required an administrator who could consider the big picture and act as “a conduit for all the faculty needs and desires and priorities and who also had a big enough understanding of performance space to work with an architect,” Colvin said.

The University initially considered hiring externally for the position, Colvin said, adding that peer institutions such as Columbia and the University of Chicago have looked outside university walls for a “professor of the practice” for jobs similar to the vice provost of the arts.

But faculty members expressed more enthusiasm about the idea of hiring someone who could be a faculty leader, so the University looked inward, Colvin said.

The fact that Steinberg’s term as director of the Cogut Center ends in June made this a good year for him to switch roles, she added.

A dramaturg and one of the world’s foremost historians of music, Steinberg brings a mix of professional know-how and scholarly knowledge to the job, said Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin P’12.

Steinberg, who came to College Hill in 2005 as the Cogut Center’s first director, holds additional posts as professor of music and German studies.

In her email to the community, Colvin described Steinberg as “an experienced and exceptionally talented academic leader,” adding that he “has developed the (Cogut) Center as a vibrant hub for the humanities on campus and cultivated dynamic communities across disciplines.”

As vice provost for the arts, Steinberg will report to Colvin and take a seat in Paxson’s cabinet, she wrote.

The new administrative job will encompass the roles of director of the Granoff Center and chair of the Creative Arts Council, which is held by Professor of Visual Art Richard Fishman, whose term comes to an end June 30, Colvin wrote.

Fishman’s “creativity, commitment and dedication … have helped position Brown so well for the future,” she added.

As Steinberg vacates his position as director of the Cogut Center, the University plans to name his successor in a few weeks, Colvin wrote, adding that Steinberg will retain that role until June 30.


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