I’ve announced that I will step down as dean of the College of Fine Arts by the end of the 2020–2021 academic year.
This is my 12th year as dean. Thirteenth if you count my year as interim dean. Eighteenth if one considers the years I served as senior associate dean. The founding dean of the college, the eminent E. William Doty, served as dean for 37 years, from the depths of the Great Depression through at least three wars, the Space Race, the turbulent ’60s into the early ’70s, more or less defining the disciplinary substance and mission of the college for generations.
I’m gratified to see a college that is now vastly changed from 20 years ago for a university, city, state and world—and most of all for students—that have changed vastly around us.
The array of new educational programs and research centers formed during the past 10 years has worked a sea change in the identity, mission and scale of the college. We’re recruiting and supporting the most talented and distinguished faculty and staff members in the country. Student diversity is improving steadily, and access through financial aid has made UT one of the most effective universities for creating upward social mobility through educational opportunity. Our college-to-career placements of graduates have never been more proactive or creative. We are as a college collaborating with and are woven into more corners of the university than ever before, from the Dell Medical School to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, from computer science to the business school. From the Lozano Long Institute to the Cockrell School. And now, thanks to the generosity of many of you, the College of Fine Arts is among the best endowed public university arts colleges in the nation.
It’s not a Texas boast to brag that the college is among the very best public university arts colleges in the country, populist in our access, distinguished in our traditions, but also admired for our progressive spirit and innovations. I’m hugely optimistic about the college’s future and the prospects for attracting fantastic new leadership in the next dean.
I’m not rushing away. I’m not coasting on my laurels. But I can count the days. There is much still to be done. So, expect redoubled efforts to accomplish all that can be done.
But, it is the right moment to return to my long-postponed research and teaching interests after an administrative career that I thought, 25 years ago when first asked to chair a department, would be a brief diversion!
Serving as dean of the College of Fine Arts at UT has been a great honor. It’s been the most abundant of good fortunes to work side by side, over so many years, with so many dedicated faculty members, staff members, alumni and friends.
The provost has formed a search committee and launched a national search for the college’s next dean. In the meantime, there’s much still to be accomplished over the next year.
Dean Doug Dempster