Campus announces creation of associate vice chancellor of arts, design position

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The campus announced the creation and appointment of a new faculty leadership position, the associate vice chancellor of arts and design, in an email sent to the campus Thursday.

The role will facilitate communication both within the five arts departments and across other disciplines, and it will be filled in fall by Shannon Jackson, the director of the Arts Research Center and a campus professor.

The new position was created in part to help implement “A New Strategy for the Arts at Berkeley,” a document created in 2014 outlining campus goals for the arts, according to Anthony Cascardi, the dean of the arts and humanities division in the College of Letters and Science.

Cascardi led the UC Berkeley Arts Council, a group of campus faculty and administrators, during a two-year process to develop the document and reimagine the future of arts education on campus. According to Jackson, the position was not specifically recommended by the council, but Dirks, in the process of developing his Arts and Design Initiative, consulted arts leaders on campus and decided that such a position was needed.

“We need to find better, more sustainable ways to collaborate across the arts and across fields that might not automatically be thought of as relevant to the arts at all, such as engineering,” Cascardi said.

Ben Brinner, a campus professor of music scholarship, said the current landscape among art disciplines is “highly fragmented.” Brinner, who also served on the council, added that there is “little coordination or even mutual awareness among the many instructors of regular classes, DeCal classes, ASUC groups and arts presenters across campus.”

In her first few months in the position, Jackson said, she will focus on “listening to various arts and design faculty, staff and students about their needs and goals.”

After creating a “stronger platform for communication and collaboration around shared goals,” Jackson plans to help secure more resources for all art and design departments, organizations and initiatives on campus.

“There is a great deal that we can do by mobilizing existing resources within the curriculum to provide a wider range of arts-based experiences,” she said. Jackson named breadth requirements and the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program as potential areas of focus.

Jackson also hopes to teach a Big Ideas course in the fall with Nicholas de Monchaux, an associate professor of architecture and urban design, to introduce students to a range of arts forms. The course, if approved, would focus on “architecture of life” and would be complemented by performances and exhibits at Cal Performances and campus art departments.

“Historically, institutions like Berkeley have been much better at developing analytical skills than creative capacities,” Cascardi said. “(We need to) find increased opportunities to think and work imaginatively across many disciplines.”

Contact Lenin Silva at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @LeninSilvaNunez.