Dean's Letter: Welcoming a new dean to the College of Fine Arts


March 10, 2021
Dean Doug Dempster

My long tenure as dean of the College of Fine Arts comes to a close at the end of this year, an occasion of mixed feelings for me. Being dean of the College of Fine Arts has been an enormously rewarding, creative challenge. I’ll miss it. But I could not be more eager to get back to teaching and writing and thinking—more deeply and calmly—about the place of the arts in our lives. I’ll look forward to thanking everyone who contributed to the success of the college over the 20 years I’ve served in the Dean’s Office.

I am delighted to share that Dr. Ramón H. Rivera-Servera has been named the next dean of the College of Fine Arts. His appointment begins July 1.

Dr. Rivera-Servera comes to UT Austin from Northwestern University, where he chaired the Department of Performance Studies and the Department of Theatre in the School of Communication. He knows the College of Fine Arts and UT well as the first graduate of the Performance as Public Practice Ph.D. program in our Department of Theatre and Dance. He returns to Austin as the first Latino dean in the history of the College of Fine Arts.

Dr. Rivera-Servera is a prolific interdisciplinary scholar whose research explores the ways the arts contribute to social transformation and help us become a more intentionally collaborative and ethical society. His publications focus on creative ethnography, new work development and Black and Latinx arts and cultures in North America and the Caribbean. His scholarship documents a wide array of performance practices, ranging from theatre and concert dance to social dance, fashion and speech. He is the author of Performing Queer Latinidad: Dance, Sexuality, Politics (University of Michigan Press, 2012).

We have been through a period of tremendous change and growth during the last 14 years—and not a moment too soon in a fast-changing world. The college will continue to lean confidently into the future under Dean Rivera-Servera’s leadership. I’m immodest enough to believe the College of Fine Arts is the most entrepreneurial and innovative public arts college in the country. We are populist in our inclusivity and devoted to preserving cultural tradition, but we are also impatiently progressive, entrepreneurial and unorthodox. We are big enough to be all that!

And if we are all that, it’s in no small part because of the ambition and steadfast commitment of our Fine Arts Advisory Council, our friends and alumni. I am hugely optimistic about our future, as well as the future of the arts in public education—and all the more so for Dr. Rivera-Servera being appointed the next dean of the College of Fine Arts.

Join me in giving a warm welcome to Dean Rivera-Servera. I look forward to working with him as he transitions into his deanship. 



Dean Doug Dempster


College of Fine Arts

Read More News