Shawn Brixey.

Shawn Brixey named dean of the VCU School of the Arts

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Shawn Brixey has been named dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts, the premier public graduate school of arts and design in the United States, effective July 1.

Brixey, currently dean of the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design at York University in Toronto, will provide leadership in education, research, community outreach and fund development activities.

Shawn’s background as an educator, researcher, writer and inventor makes him the perfect fit for our university.

“I am pleased to welcome Shawn Brixey to VCU as the new dean of our School of the Arts,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “In addition to being an accomplished artist, Shawn’s background as an educator, researcher, writer and inventor makes him the perfect fit for our university. We all look forward to working with Shawn and are happy to have him as the leader of the nation's No. 1-ranked public school of the arts.”

Under Brixey’s leadership the AMPD at York has repositioned its mission and focus toward interdisciplinary, team-driven, technology-centered, creative research and discovery. It is one of the most comprehensive arts, media, performance and design faculty in North America, with more than 250 tenure-line faculty and lecturers, 500 graduate students and 4,000 undergraduates.

“VCUarts is a truly path-breaking research community,” Brixey said. “I am honored by and excited about the opportunity to support its wonderful faculty and students. They are uniquely positioned to shape the frontiers of research and discovery at the boundaries of what the arts mean today, and how they will be inspired and lived tomorrow.”

James Frazier, Ed.D., previously associate dean for graduate studies and faculty affairs for the VCU School of the Arts, has served as interim dean for the past year.

“I am extremely grateful for the exemplary leadership of Interim Dean James Frazier,” Rao said. “In addition to serving as interim dean, James’s work as the special assistant to the provost at VCUarts Qatar required him to maintain a balance between both campuses. We are all appreciative of the work he has done to lead two highly visible and respected art schools.”

Prior to his appointment at York, Brixey was professor and The Floyd and Delores Jones Endowed Chair in Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he co-founded and directed The Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media, UW’s pioneering interdisciplinary B.F.A. and Ph.D. program in digital arts and media culture. He has served as professor at the University of California Berkeley, where he was founder and chair of the Digital Media Program, and founder and director of the Center for Digital Art and New Media Research (now the Berkeley Center for New Media).

"Shawn Brixey’s extensive experience in teaching, research and academic leadership, coupled with his innovative artistic portfolio, will undoubtedly take the already outstanding VCU School of the Arts to new heights,” said Gail Hackett, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “We are pleased to welcome him to the VCU family."

A graduate of The Media Lab at MIT in design, media science and engineering, Brixey’s research focuses on pioneering complex interactive media environments developed with a wide range of custom technologies and intelligent applications. He has received a wide range of digital arts and sciences grants and awards to support his research and educational initiative, including from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Science Foundation.

The VCU School of the Arts includes a campus in Qatar, part of Education City, and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 1 public university graduate arts program in the nation.