CU-Boulder Fine Arts Department Elects New Interim Chair

Published: May 19, 1997

Faculty in the fine arts department at the University of Colorado at Boulder have elected an interim chair from within the unit, signaling an important step toward revitalizing the department, according to outgoing interim chair Merrill Lessley.

Erika Doss, professor of fine arts, was elected interim chair May 9 in a meeting of the fine arts faculty. Pending approval by the CU Board of Regents, she will serve as interim chair while a national search for a permanent chair is conducted.

Lessley, professor of theatre and dance and associate dean for the arts and humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences, was appointed interim chair a year ago by the college. Lessley was asked to help the faculty resolve internal personnel, organizational, planning and morale issues then plaguing the department.

Lessley said the faculty “really pulled together to solve problems over the past year, and now the department has real potential for building toward the next level of excellence.” The unit will undergo its regular academic program review next year.

Among the department’s accomplishments over the past year are:

• Developed a new strategic plan

• Revised departmental bylaws, emphasizing shared governance

• Updated the department’s Personnel Polices and Procedures document

• Developed a report on critical facility needs

• Updated the department’s Diversity Plan

• Established closer ties with the fine arts Community Advisory/Support Group

• Responded to complex personnel issues, including promotion and tenure, sexual harassment policies and professional conduct standards

• Established higher levels of collegiality and consensus

Doss said the past year has seen real change within the department, although much remains to be done. “Some problems still exist, but there is a new commitment to creating a professional environment that will ensure a quality education for our students and opportunities for creative and scholarly work by faculty.

“A year ago, we really needed to reexamine our goals, our plans, and the way we interact with each other. The faculty worked hard to bring us to this point, allowing us to set a new course for the future. I appreciate the university’s statement of confidence in our ability to do so.”

Doss said the department’s “house had to be put in order before we could think about attracting an outstanding permanent chair.” The search is expected to begin immediately, with the aim of naming a new chair before the 1998-99 academic year.