VCU School of the Arts dean steps down; will remain on faculty

Shawn Brixey
As dean of the VCU School of the Arts, Shawn Brixey grew the school's first-year student retention rates to 84%, the highest at the university. (Photo by Steven Casanova courtesy of VCUarts)

Shawn Brixey is stepping down from his administrative role as dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, effective Aug. 5. He will remain a tenured faculty member in the School of the Arts and an affiliate faculty member at the College of Engineering.

Brixey has provided leadership in education, research, community outreach and fund development since July 1, 2017, as dean and special assistant to the provost for the School of the Arts in Qatar.

During his tenure, Brixey positioned the School of the Arts as a hub for arts and innovation, addressing student success and access with the creation of creative daring scholarships that have increased out-of-state student yield by 20%. He has also grown first-year student retention rates to 84%, the highest at VCU.

Brixey launched the Arts Research Institute to support external funding and research development, bolstering opportunities for faculty nationally and internationally, including an association with the Tate Exchange at the Tate Modern in London. Brixey also expanded the school’s arts and health initiatives, broadening them to include an inaugural Physician-Scientist in Residency program.

Brixey said he will continue to work with the administration on executing arts innovation as it relates to the VCU master plan and new community and industrial partnerships. He said his primary focus will be on his creative research and professional activities as a professor in the School of the Arts and College of Engineering. 

Nancy Scott, associate dean, has been appointed acting dean until an interim dean is named in the next several weeks. A national search will be conducted to permanently fill the position.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 30,000 students in 233 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Twenty-two of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit and