The new year will begin with a new dean at the helm of the College of Fine and Performing Arts at Western Carolina University as the WCU Board of Trustees has endorsed the appointment of George H. Brown, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts at Western Michigan University, to the position.
Approval of the appointment, which is effective Jan. 2, came during the board’s regular quarterly meeting Friday, Dec. 5.
Associate dean at Western Michigan since 2011, Brown brings an extensive record of achievement in the arts – as an artist, educator and administrator – to his new role at WCU, said Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar.
“George Brown has proven himself up to the challenge of leading our College of Fine and Performing Arts,” Morrison-Shetlar said. “With a 36-year career in the arts, including 21 years in the higher education arena, he has the experience, leadership skills, knowledge and creativity necessary to take Western Carolina’s already strong programs in the fine and performing arts to the next level.”
Brown said that he was attracted to the position at WCU by the university’s emphasis on the importance of the arts at a time when budget cuts and other financial woes are taking a toll on arts education at many institutions of higher education.
“It is exciting to see Western Carolina University actively pursuing a vision of the future that promotes vibrant learning, discovery and community engagement while embracing the arts at its core,” he said. “As an academic leader, educator and artist, I enjoy working, living and creating in this age of dynamic change. I am energized by the possibilities it brings to us as we explore our ‘brave new world.’”
Prior to his appointment at Western Michigan, Brown served for 10 years as chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at Bradley University. During his final year at Bradley, he also served as interim chair of the Department of Interactive Media. He taught and served as head of the directing program at Texas Christian University from 1993 until joining the faculty at Bradley in 2002.
He has worked in professional and university theater for more 20 years, filling a variety of positions ranging from director to actor to fight choreographer. He has directed more than 100 productions in theaters across the U.S., Caribbean and Europe – including “The Tempest,” “Cyrano De Bergerac” and the world premiere of “Smile Natives, Smile” presented at Carifesta on St. Kitts – and served as managing artistic director of Island Center for the Performing Arts in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Brown was the recipient of the President’s Appreciation Award and the Theodore C. Burgess Award for Excellence in Interdepartmental Collaboration at Bradley University. He holds a master’s degree of fine arts in directing from Penn State and served in the U.S. Navy.
Brown is filling a vacancy that has existed in the College of Fine and Performing Arts since June 6, when its founding dean, Robert Kehrberg, returned to the faculty in the School of Music. Darrell Parker, dean of WCU’s College of Business, has been serving as interim dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts for the past six months.
The appointment of Brown concludes a national search by a committee led by Dale Carpenter, dean of WCU’s College of Education and Allied Professions.
Established in July 2007, the College of Fine and Performing Arts encompasses the School of Stage and Screen, the School of Art and Design, the School of Music, the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center and the Fine Art Museum.