Interim Dean, VCUarts and Special Assistant to the Provost for the School of the Arts in Qatar
Nancy Scott is interim dean of VCU School of the Arts and special assistant to the provost for VCUarts in Doha, Qatar. Scott began her career at VCU in 1993 as an assistant professor in the Department of Fashion Design and Merchandising. She quickly moved into leadership roles as assistant department chair and assistant dean for academic affairs for the school. She was instrumental in the development of VCU’s campus in Doha, Qatar, and in 1999 became the associate director of the Shaqab College of Design Arts, now VCUarts Qatar. In 2001 she was promoted to associate dean for academic administration, a position she held through July of this year when she was promoted to executive associate dean for the school. In September 2019, she was appointed interim dean and is a board member of the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU and the VCUarts Qatar Joint Advisory Board.
Scott earned a B.F.A. in Fashion Merchandising and a M.Ed. in Adult Education from VCU. She is a graduate of the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and holds an International Business Certificate from VCU.
Interim Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs
Christiana Lafazani is the Interim Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs. She joined VCUarts in 2003 as faculty in the Department of Interior Design, served as the chair and graduate director for the Department, and joined the Dean’s office in 2019. Before joining VCUarts, she was a design project manager for an architecture and design firm, a store prototype designer for a Fortune 500 company, and a design manager for an office furniture company. Lafazani holds a Master of Fine Arts in Interior Environments from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design from James Madison University.
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Jody Symula is the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and the Art Foundation Program Lead. Symula’s professional tenure at VCUarts began with teaching in the Art Foundation program from 2006-2010 after receiving her MFA with a concentration in Painting and Printmaking. In addition to teaching, Symula was the Head of Residential Life and Assistant Director for the Summer Intensive residential program from 2005-2007 where she built programming, manuals and protocol for the new program. From 2006-2010 Symula was Director of Student Services.
In her current role she builds structures, directs and advocates for resources for VCUarts students to best guarantee success at the University and in life after college. Her areas of interest are the mental and behavioral health as well as the financial lives of students. Academic advising, the student centric gallery the Anderson, as well as the first year fine and design program Art Foundation fall under her purview in addition to a robust student research and grant portfolio.
Prior to coming to VCUarts, Symula earned her BFA in painting from Humboldt State University, and her Associate’s degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University.
Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
James Wiznerowicz is the interim associate dean for academic affairs. He was the interim chair of the Department of Music after previously serving as assistant chair. Wiznerowicz studied under composition teachers such as Anthony Iannaccone, Ladislav Kubík and Daniel Asia, and his own music has been performed at festivals and conferences in Australia, Europe and the U.S. He earned his DMA from the University of Arizona, and his BA and MA degrees from Eastern Michigan University.
Interim Associate Dean for Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies
While navigating his 25-year career between multiple professional identities, Matt has cultivated the ability to transfer his depth of design thinking and creative problem-solving skills across a range of disciplines.
Matt’s research and professional practice focuses on the influences of information and communication technologies on the evolution of language and learning; and human-centered design principles on products and systems for healthcare. He has authored and co-authored ten books, including the best-selling Type in Motion: Innovations in Digital Graphics. Matt’s other books address such defining topics as motion design, music and the visual arts, and information visualization. Matt’s writings and projects have been published internationally in design journals and books; exhibited internationally; included in private collections; and have received awards from PRINT Magazine, AIGA and Art Directors Club.
Currently, Matt is the Interim Associate Dean for Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies, and a tenured, full-professor in the Department of Graphic Design. He served as department chair of Graphic Design for six years, during which the program attained and held the #4 specialty ranking. Matt has served in inaugural leadership roles through the years, including Director of Creative Entrepreneurship, and Director of the MFA program in Design Studies, on the VCU-Qatar campus, and most recently the Executive Director of Entrepreneurship on the Richmond campus. Under this title he launched the Center for the Creative Economy, a portfolio of experiential learning and research programs, including partnerships with In Your Ear Recording Studios, VA Department of Juvenile Justice, Capital One, and other organizations. His innovative program development generates over $400,000 in funds for the School of the Arts with research grants and academic and industry partnerships. Matt also is the founder and managing director of CrossThink Labs, LLC, an innovation research, design, and development agency.
Matt’s education includes MFA and MBA degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a BA degree from Oberlin College.