College of Fine Arts searches for new director

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    The College of Fine Arts is searching for a replacement for the director of the School of Art, who will retire at the end of this semester.

    Scott Sullivan, dean of the College of Fine Arts, said the college has received around 10 applications for the position as the School of Art Director.

    “The search committee has zeroed in on three [applicants] and they are now checking references,” Sullivan said. “Then they are going to do a phone interview for those people to see if they are the kinds of people that we want to pursue and bring to campus for more interviews.”

    Sullivan would not disclose who the three applicants were or what universities they came from. He said confidentiality was essential to helping the candidates maintain positive relationships with their current institutions.

    “If you don’t get the job, people sometimes think you are unloyal to their institution because you tried to get a job somewhere else,” Sullivan said.

    Sullivan said he would announce who the candidates are when they agree to come to campus for more interviews.

    The school’s current director, Ronald Watson, planned on stepping down at the end of the 2009-10 school year to return to teaching. When the school could not find a replacement last year, Watson instead agreed to hold the position for one final year.

    “I think it was the better move for all concerned, rather than putting someone in as an interim appointment who didn’t have the experience and didn’t have the knowledge,” Watson said.

    However, he would have preferred to be teaching his final year, he said.

    “Teaching is directly rewarding. Everyday in the classroom new things happen,” Watson said. “I’m able to see the progress my students are making, which is really wonderful. Administration doesn’t really work that way. Your rewards, if you get them, are deferred and so on and spread out over a whole group of people.”

    Sullivan said the College of Fine Arts was grateful that Watson stayed for another year because he already possessed the knowledge about curriculum, budget requests and other topics.

    “He didn’t need to learn anything new,” Sullivan said. “He gave us the continuity and continued leadership and really helped us.”

    In retirement, Watson plans on working in his studio full-time, doing primarily sculpture work, he said. He hoped that the free time would allow him to reinvest himself into painting, he said.

    According to Sullivan, Watson has accomplished a great deal during his years at TCU, including hiring nearly 80 percent of the faculty for the School of Art.

    He was also able to get the School of Art nationally accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. This accreditation made the department of visual art a school.

    Watson also created the Fort Worth Contemporary Arts gallery two years ago, to “show students cutting-edge art that would inspire them and help raise the level of the art they created,” Sullivan said.

    Watson said his largest accomplishment was building relationships with students, specifically through a study abroad program that he created in collaboration with political science professor Manochehr Dorraj. The program allows students to study art, mathematics and political science in Prague, Vienna and Budapest.

    Clinton Johnson, a senior studio art major with a concentration in sculpture, attended the study abroad trip with Watson last summer. Johnson said Watson was really involved with students and showed him that professors are real people.

    “He has a quiet energy that will be missed around here,” Johnson said.

    Sullivan said he hoped Watson would stay active in the College of Fine Arts to support and serve as a mentor for the incoming director.

    “We hope he’ll be available as kind of an adviser to keep his legacy in the department and the school that he built,” Sullivan said.