Yale College Appoints First Associate Dean for the Arts

Yale College Dean Mary Miller has announced the appointment of Susan E. Cahan as the first Associate Dean for the Arts in Yale College.

Cahan most recently served as associate dean for academic affairs of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where she was also the Des Lee Endowed Professor in Contemporary Art. She earned her doctorate in art history from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

“Susan Cahan brings energy, vision and hands-on experience to her new role as Associate Dean for the Arts. Her work as a curator and, more recently, as an administrator of the visual and performing arts provides her with a wealth of experience that should prepare her for the new challenges she’ll face in the Yale College Dean’s Office. We’re keen to have her on board,” Miller said, in announcing the appointment.

Cahan’s broad range of experience includes teaching at Bard College and UCLA, as well as curatorial work and oversight of education programs at both the New Museum of Contemporary Art (as deputy director) and the Museum of Modern Art in New York (as schools programs coordinator). Prior to her transition to full-time teaching, she was senior curator for the art collection of Eileen and Peter Norton and director of arts programs at the Peter Norton Family Foundation in Santa Monica, California.

“Cahan’s love of the arts is matched by a dedication to arts education,” remarked Miller, noting that throughout her career the new dean for the arts has forged relationships with community organizations and expanded the education and outreach programs in the institutions for which she worked.

Reporting directly to the dean of the College, Cahan will help to develop programs and new initiatives, manage resources, and envision the future of the undergraduate arts at Yale. She will work closely with department chairs and directors of undergraduate studies in the arts on extracurricular offerings and will coordinate arts activities within the residential colleges in cooperation with the masters. “As an important liaison for the Yale College Dean’s Office throughout the University, especially to the offices of the deans of Yale’s professional arts schools and the office of the provost, she will have tremendous impact both for our students and for our colleagues throughout the University,” commented Miller.

In the announcement, Miller thanked members of the search committee, headed by Professor Marc Robinson of Theater Studies, for ensuring that the first Dean for the Arts at Yale would be a “person of high qualifications and broad appeal.”

Cahan took up her duties at Yale on August 24.

The arts are central to a Yale College education, both within and outside the academic curriculum. Undergraduates can major in Architecture, Art, Computing and the Arts, Film Studies, Music, or Theater Studies, or they can elect a variety of courses in the arts while pursuing a degree in one of Yale’s other majors. The University’s world-class professional schools of Art, Architecture, Drama, and Music provide invaluable resources for undergraduates that include several performance venues, significant course offerings, and expert guidance. The Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art also enrich the student’s academic experience, with some courses offering a unique, on-site platform for study and discussion of the institutions’ renowned collections. Yale’s libraries and the Film Study Center hold remarkable collections of historic sound recordings, video materials, prints, photographs, manuscripts, and other resources for student-artists. In addition, the Digital Media Center for the Arts offers workshops and state-of-the-art equipment for artistic projects across a range of media and formats

There is also a wide array of opportunities for students to create and perform together outside of the classroom, with some 60 officially registered campus-wide arts groups, troupes, ensembles, societies and publications. These organizations cater to such disparate interests as classical chamber music, Chinese calligraphy and fashion design. Several groups are deeply rooted in the history and lore of Yale College: the Yale Glee Club, the Yale Dramatic Association (the Dramat), the Yale Concert Band, and the legendary a cappella groups are among them. In addition, each of Yale’s 12 residential colleges hosts its own arts events and supports independent projects – from mounting exhibitions to putting on performances in the small theaters that have become standard venues in the individual colleges.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345