FAYETTEVILLE -- Four finalists to lead the School of Art at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville will visit campus over the next three weeks as the university moves to expand arts education with the help of a $120 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation.
The gift, announced in August, means that UA's School of Art will be adding faculty, offering new degree programs and providing more financial aid to students. A separate $40 million gift from the Windgate Charitable Foundation announced in December is paying for construction of new visual arts facilities a few blocks from the main campus.
The Walton grant comes after the 2011 opening of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, built with funding from the Walton Family Foundation and support from Alice Walton, daughter of Walmart founders Sam and Helen Walton.
A job posting for what will be UA's first-ever School of Art director listed a plan to add 26 faculty members over five years and described an "enhanced" partnership with Crystal Bridges. The School of Art now enrolls more than 400 students and has 36 faculty and staff members, according to the job posting.
An 11-person committee of mostly faculty with representatives from the community and Crystal Bridges reviewed 38 candidates, said Lynda Coon, search committee chair and dean of UA's Honors College. Another candidate withdrew from consideration, she said.
"From this group of candidates, the committee then narrowed the list for two rounds of interviews, including in person and on video," Coon said in an email.
A search firm, Korn Ferry, will be paid a fee "based on one third of the total first year's compensation for each position we are seeking to fill," according to contract documents released under the state's public disclosure law.
Todd Shields, dean of UA's J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, is the hiring authority, Coon said. Each finalist is giving an open presentation,"Visionary Arts Leadership in the 21st Century," in Gearhart Hall.
Finalists were asked by the Democrat-Gazette their age and for an example of how the Walton gift will help with short-term and long-term goals for arts education at UA:
• James Rolling, professor and chair of art education at Syracuse University. Public presentation: 3 p.m. March 27. Community reception: 2 p.m. March 28.
Rolling, 54, received a doctorate in education and a master's degree in education from Columbia University. He also earned a master of fine arts degree from Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree from The Cooper Union.
"I will happily share some proposed goals at the public presentation when I'm on campus next week, but all I can say at present is that they align with the current strategic plan of the University of Arkansas and are intended to help us collaborate in pioneering a sustainable and timely School of Art that is a model for the nation on several fronts," Rolling said in an email.
• Elizabeth "Cassie" Mansfield, senior program officer at the Getty Foundation. Public presentation: 2 p.m. March 29. Community reception: 2 p.m. March 30.
Mansfield received a doctorate in fine arts as well as a master of fine arts degree from Harvard. She also earned bachelor degrees from the University of California, Irvine.
She did not respond Monday to an email with questions from the Democrat-Gazette.
• Andrew Schulz, associate dean for research and faculty development at Pennsylvania State University's College of Arts and Architecture and interim head of the college's Department of Art History. Public presentation: 2 p.m. April 3. Community reception: 2 p.m. April 4.
Schulz received a doctorate in art history and a master's degree in art history from Columbia University. He also earned a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College.
Schulz declined to provide his age.
"I am honored to be considered for the extraordinary opportunity of serving as director of the School of Art, and look forward to sharing my vision for the School during my upcoming campus visit," Schulz said in an email.
• Jack Risley, chair of the University of Texas at Austin's Department of Art and Art History. Public presentation: 2 p.m. April 5. Reception: 2:15 p.m. April 6.
Risley earned a master of fine arts degree from Yale and a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College.
In an email, Risley wrote: “The University of Arkansas and the Fulbright College have all the ingredients in place to create a defining and unique school that will be a model for arts institutions around the country. There is an alchemical combination between a newly imagined School of Art, a public land-grant institution, generous patrons, an engaged community, Crystal Bridges and the charmed location of Northwest Arkansas.”*
Metro on 03/20/2018
*CORRECTION: Jack Risley, chairman of the University of Texas at Austin Department of Art and Art History and a finalist candidate for director of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville School of Art, responded Monday to questions from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in an email that read, in part: “The University of Arkansas and the Fulbright College have all the ingredients in place to create a defining and unique school that will be a model for arts institutions around the country. There is an alchemical combination between a newly imagined School of Art, a public land-grant institution, generous patrons, an engaged community, Crystal Bridges and the charmed location of Northwest Arkansas.” A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Risley did not respond to the questions.
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