Since 2007, Douglas Dempster has served as Dean of the College of Fine Arts, which includes the Department of Art and Art History, the Butler School of Music, the Department of Theatre and Dance, Texas Performing Arts and Landmarks, the University’s public art program.
As dean, Dempster has overseen the growth of new programs that support successful professional outcomes for Fine Arts students. Some of his key initiatives include the following:
- Creating the Center for Integrated Design, a partnership with Design Division in the Department of Art and Art History, the Cockrell School of Engineering, the School of Information, the Department of Textiles and Apparel, the McCombs School of Business, the Department of Computer Science and the School of Architecture programs to create a multidisciplinary curriculum that allows UT students the opportunity to study design methodology and apply it in creative and entrepreneurial scenarios.
- Launching the Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies, which includes the college’s first Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree program in Arts and Entertainment Technologies. The new program will add more than 400 students to the college.
- Partnering with UT Libraries to renovate the Fine Arts Library’s third floor for the new maker space, The Foundry, and the fourth floor for new classrooms and offices to support the CAET and Design programs in the college.
- Partnering with the Department of Computer Science and the Radio-Television-Film program to launch the university’s first undergraduate game development program, the Game and Mobile Media Applications Program
- Building a Minor in Arts Management and Administration, aimed at creating more professional opportunities for artists.
- Establishing UTeach Fine Arts to strengthen the college’s existing arts teacher preparation programs and to expand the college’s commitment to educating more fine arts teachers to bring high quality arts education to the schools of Texas.
- Establishing Landmarks, the University’s public art program. More than thirty-five works of modern and contemporary art are on view throughout the 433-acre campus, and funding will be allocated in all future capital improvement projects on campus to support the purchase or commission of new artworks.
- Establishing the Visual Arts Center as the primary exhibition and collaboration venue for the Department of Art and Art History.
- In May 2007, Texas Performing Arts’ flagship venue, Bass Concert Hall began a $14.7 million dollar renovation and facelift that reinvented this Austin treasure as a world-class performing arts venue.
- Creating the college’s Fine Arts Diversity Committee, which is committed to fostering a culture and climate that is inclusive and welcoming of students, faculty and staff of all backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints. The college is in the process of implementing the five-year strategic plan to improve recruitment and retention of diverse faculty, staff and students; create more inclusive curricula and creative programming; and foster a more inclusive and equitable college culture and climate.
Under Dempster’s leadership, the College of Fine Arts raised more than $117 million in the last capital campaign, surpassing the college's original goal of $80 million. The college currently holds over 400 individual endowments, with a total value of $140 million.
Well-known for his record in reforming professional training programs for artists, Dempster serves on the board of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, which tracks professional outcomes of arts alumni across the United States.
Dempster first joined UT and the college as the Senior Associate Dean in 2001. Prior to that, he was the Associate Director and Academic Dean at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, one of the top music conservatories in the world. He served for 18 years on the Eastman School faculty and in a variety of administrative roles, including founding director of Eastman’s Arts Leadership and Orchestral Studies programs, nationally leading examples of entrepreneurship training in a professional arts school. While at Eastman, Dempster held faculty appointments in the departments of Humanities, Music Theory, Musicology and a joint appointment in Philosophy at the University of Rochester.
Dempster is a philosopher by training and profession with research and teaching specialties in philosophical aesthetics, music theory, cultural policy studies and the philosophy of language. He is published eclectically and esoterically in all these areas. He currently holds the Marie and Joseph D. Jamail Senior Regents Professorship and the Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in the Department of Theatre and Dance.
He also serves on the China Foundation for the Promotion of Education and Culture and Polyphonic.org, the Orchestral Musicians Forum.
Dempster holds a doctorate and master’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Philosophy and Government from St. Lawrence University in New York State.