Turner To Step Down in January as Vice Provost for the Arts; University Launches Search for Successor

September 26, 2012

Elizabeth Hutton Turner will step down in January as the University of Virginia’s vice provost for the arts, a position she has held since its creation in 2007, after completing her five-year term.

Turner, who also is University Professor of modern art and teaches in the College of Arts & SciencesMcIntire Department of Art, returned to the University – where she earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees – from The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., where she was senior curator. A noted scholar of 20th-century American art, her work as a curator and educator has brought new perspectives on a wide range of artists who bridge the relationship between America and Europe during the modernist period.

“As the University’s first vice provost for the arts, Beth oversaw significant growth in arts programming, the display of public art on Grounds, and the expansion of the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection and The Fralin Museum of Art,” Executive Vice President and Provost John Simon said. “In her five years, she established the role of vice provost for the arts as collaborator and advocate.”

Turner raised the profile of the arts on Grounds, overseeing the expansion of the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds, including the construction of Ruffin Hall, the home of the studio art program; the Hunter Smith Band Building; and the forthcoming addition to the Drama Building of the 300-seat Ruth Caplin Theatre. The last features a thrust stage to accommodate the growth of the University’s acclaimed performing arts programs, including drama and dance, and is scheduled to open in the spring.

She also shepherded the refurbishing of galleries and outdoor spaces to exhibit sculpture at The Fralin Museum of Art, all designed to expand and engage curriculums across the  University in the arts, and spearheaded the establishment of new benchmarks and raised the visibility of the University’s ongoing program of public art.

Through the Arts in Action initiative, Turner raised the visibility of public art by attracting loans of works by 20th-century sculptors Alexander Calder and Henry Moore; showcased work by international artists; and brought artists at the top of their fields for residencies to enrich the arts curriculum, including a multi-year relationship with dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones.

“I am delighted that Provost Simon is committed to continuing the support and advocacy of the arts at the provost level,” Turner said. “I am honored to have served as the first Vice Provost for the Arts. The advances of the last five years – including major gifts, new facilities, new working groups, new grant opportunities as well as public art and University-wide residencies resulting in the creation of new work – are clear indications that the arts have become a priority at the University. I leave knowing that the legacy of integrating the arts with the University research and teaching mission will continue.”

During a two-year leave from the University, which starts in January, Turner will join the Terra Foundation for American Art as vice president for collections and curatorial affairs. Turner will work with the foundation to promote its “museum without walls” model, to bring its collection to audiences throughout the world and encourage cross-cultural discourse.

Simon launched a search this week for Turner’s successor. The search is open to current members of the University faculty.

Simon named a five-member search committee, chaired by Maurie McInnis, art history professor and associate dean for undergraduate programs in the College. The other committee members are Robert Chapel, drama professor and artistic director of the Heritage Theatre Festival; Marcia Childress, associate professor of medical education and co-director of the program in the humanities in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities; Ignacio Alday Sanz, Architecture School professor and chair of the architecture department; and Siva Vaidhyanathan, chair of media studies and Law School professor.

The job description is posted here.

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