A Thanksgiving message from the dean

Illustration of red, orange and yellow trees with "VCUarts" above the treeline

Dear VCUarts community,

Transitioning to the role of dean at VCUarts is a process that relies heavily on establishing new relationships and engaging in impromptu conversations. Making that transition in the midst of a pandemic means forging those connections from a distance, whether it be standing six feet apart or across the virtual divide.

I may have yet to experience the liveliness of students streaming down hallways that are papered with recent work, or hear musicians rehearsing in the courtyard, but the vibrancy of our school is still palpable. I am grateful for the interactions I have had thus far, whether it’s a quick greeting while holding open a door or, stopping by to visit the students working in the admissions office.

One particularly notable encounter happened when I attended a meeting of Black Art Student Empowerment. The members of BASE described their efforts and ideas to support arts programs in local schools, from securing supplies to creating opportunities for high school students to experience a college campus and understand the professional viability of being an artist. It was an invigorating exchange, with discussions about equality and equity, our aspirations for the future, and the interconnected nature of sweeping change.

The meeting was a glimpse into the deep work of self-reflection and interrogation that our students pursue every day. It was refreshing and inspiring, and brought a heightened awareness of my own responsibilities and commitment as your dean.

The exchange also affirmed my hope for what the coming year will bring. There will come a time—in the not too distant future—when we will re-emerge from our isolation and shorten the distances between us. I am hopeful that we will retain our heightened appreciation for and understanding of one another, and that we can approach the coming days with a strong sense of optimism and purpose.

I am eager for what lies ahead, and I look forward to walking that path with you.

Carmenita Higginbotham, Ph.D.
Dean, VCUarts
Special assistant to the provost for VCUarts Qatar