By Staff Writer Kylie Cooper.
A. Lawrence Jenkens has been appointed as Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). The decision was announced on February 27.
Jenkens currently serves as the Interim Dean of the CVPA at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. He was the Acting Dean, Associate Dean, and Department Head of the same school, which is largely a part of why the UMass Dartmouth search committee selected him to fulfill the position.
“He has a lot of administrative experience,” said Dr. Amy Shapiro, Search Committee Chair and Associate Dean of UMassD’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Similarly, Jenkens has “significant budgetary management” and fundraising experience, two critical skills to have as a university administrator. He has also had experience in the restructuring of colleges, which has recently happened at UMassD’s CVPA when departments were merged to create new ones.
But it was largely his goal to establish strong community relationships that made Jenkens the right fit.
“During his interview, he really emphasized engagement with the community,” Dr. Shapiro said. “He had a real vision for what partnerships with the community could be.”
This was echoed in his cover letter, in which he stated, “I am particularly interested in working at a vibrant university that is deeply rooted in its community and has a mission that mirrors my own belief in the transformational role of the visual and performing arts in our culturally rich and diverse society.”
Jenkens is no stranger to community outreach. As Chair of the Fine Arts Department, he founded the University of New Orleans St. Claude Gallery in 2008, which is the city’s only off-campus gallery and performance space. This came in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, during which he played an instrumental role in the Fine Arts Department’s rebuilding and restructuring.
On a simpler note, Jenkens was also chosen because of his likability and positive character.
“He’s somebody who has the right temperament to do this difficult job,” said Dr. Shapiro.
A Dean’s role in any college is complex and challenging. They must work with faculty, students, the Provost’s office, the Chancellor’s office, and other university Deans to solve problems, constantly assess and guide the academic mission, and work on campus-wide projects such as accreditation and retention.
Particularly for UMassD’s CVPA, there have been recent changes that a Dean must understand. Such changes include the addition of newly offered degrees. Dr. Shapiro said the committee was looking for someone who could “pick up the reins to see all of [the changes] through.”
The search for a new CVPA Dean came as a result of previous Dean, David Klamen, stepping down to return to his previous university, Indiana University Northwest, and his Chicago studio. Since last summer, Laura Franz has been serving as the Interim Dean. She will return to teaching and her position as Chair of the Design Department.
The Dean search commenced at the beginning of fall 2018 with a committee of seven campus figures, the most of whom from the CVPA.
The search committee worked with a consulting company to identify a pool of candidates and do the initial screening.
Jenkens was chosen out of four final candidates and will begin his time at UMassD in July.