University makes two key arts appointments

The University of Chicago announced two key appointments in the arts today, tapping prominent campus leaders for new roles that span the University and the community.

William Michel will become the first Executive Director of the Reva and David Logan Center for Creative and Performing Arts, helping to create and lead a dynamic hub for visual arts, theater and performance, music, cinema and media studies and creative writing. Michel will begin his new role Jan. 1, 2010; the center is slated to open in spring 2012.

Theaster Gates has taken the position of Director of Arts Program Development, even as he continues to pursue his thriving career as a visual and performance artist. In his new role, which he began in July, he is working to nurture strategic collaborations among arts groups throughout campus; build connections between arts groups and other disciplines and organizations; and lead efforts to engage the community and the city.

Larry Norman, Deputy Provost for the Arts, said the appointment of prominent leaders to these positions underscores the importance of the arts to the life of the University.

"We are fortunate to have recruited two such talented colleagues who can build upon the outstanding work and momentum across the University's arts communities," Norman said.

Michel currently serves as Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Associate Dean of the College, one of a series of increasingly important roles he has held in shaping student life at the University. He spent four years as Director of University Theater immediately after his graduation from the College in 1992. He has remained engaged in the arts as a founding member of the University's Arts Council, board president of About Face Theatre and has been involved in planning for the Logan Center since its inception.

"The arts have been an important part of my entire experience at the University of Chicago, and I am excited about the opportunity to continue to work with our faculty, students and staff to support our vibrant arts community," Michel said. "The Reva and David Logan arts center will not only be a spectacular building but will be a vibrant center of scholarship and creativity for the entire University, the city and beyond."

Norman said, "Bill's deep experience in and devotion to the life of this University, together with his background in theater and arts management, make him a superlative choice as the inaugural director.

In a joint statement, Dean of the College John Boyer and Kim Goff-Crews, Vice President for Campus and Student Life and Dean of Students at the University, credited Michel for helping the University strengthen its commitment to student life. They said that a national search for his successor in that role would be undertaken, with the guidance of a search committee that includes students, faculty and staff.

Gates will continue to serve as Artist in Residence and Lecturer in Visual Arts as he takes on his expanded role in the Office of the Provost. He previously served as Coordinator of Arts Programming in the Office of the Provost. After studying urban planning, fine arts, religious studies and sculpture, Gates also has developed an active career of performances, exhibitions, site interventions and lectures, while building affiliations with groups across the city.

"I am fortunate to have opportunities to move between the art and cultural communities of the city and have an active and vital creative practice, nurtured here at the University of Chicago. To exhibit and perform new works here and internationally are important to me as an artist; but to also impact policy and structures that ensure that my colleagues, students and the larger cultural community have access to the tremendous resources of the University - that feels like the heavy lifting," Gates said. "What a treat that this is the work before me."

Norman said that wide set of interests make Gates a "dynamic ambassador, translator and catalyst among artists, activists, organizers and audiences."