School of Visual Arts Director at Virginia Tech

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies (CAUS) at Virginia Tech invites applications for the position of Director, School of Visual Arts (SOVA), with a start date of August 10, 2020. One of four schools in CAUS (the others being the School of Architecture + Design, Myers-Lawson School of Construction, and the School of Public and International Affairs), SOVA includes four undergraduate programs (BFAs in Studio Art, Graphic Design, and Creative Technologies; BA in Art History) as well as two graduate programs (MFA in Creative Technologies; MA in Material Culture and Public Humanities in collaboration with the Departments of Religion & Culture and History). Consisting of twenty-eight full-time faculty and three full-time staff, SOVA serves 270 majors as well as a growing number of non-majors through its new minor, Visual Arts and Society.

Leveraging its unique position within an internationally-renowned research university, SOVA successfully navigates the intersection of Art + Technology. The school affirms the vital link between inherited material as well as historical traditions and emerging tools in our digital present through both its curriculum and the creative research of its faculty. SOVA provides opportunities for valuable experiential learning that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries with an emphasis on collaboration and outreach.

As part of the Creativity and Innovation District , the School of Visual Arts collaborates with the Institute of Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) and many other departments across the university to promote the visual arts at Virginia Tech. The school hosts a lively visiting artist and scholar program; recent visitors include, Willie Cole, Laurie Anderson, Kehinde Wiley, Lynn Hershman-Leeson, Daniel Canogar, and Adam Gopnik. Through its Armory Gallery, SOVA maintains an active schedule of exhibitions by nationally-renowned artists and students alike. Its programming complements and coordinates with other exhibition venues at Virginia Tech, including the Moss Arts Center, Perspective Gallery, and the student-run XYZ Gallery.

SOVA has played a key role in designing and defining Virginia Tech’s first purpose-built art studios in the University’s history, currently under construction and due to open in August 2021. Additional arts facilities are expected within the university’s Master Plan; the director will play a key role as these new facilities are developed and built.

Provide strategic leadership:

  • promote SOVA and the arts through a period of change at the university, recognizing the quality and achievements of the existing programs and faculty research, while also aligning those strengths with new opportunities and strategic priorities of the college and university.
  • strategically serve the unique needs of SOVA faculty, staff, and students through collaborative capacity-building and transparent leadership including effective and equitable administrative and fiscal management of the school as the university transitions to a new Partnership and Incentives Based Budget model.
  • serve as a member of the Dean’s executive leadership team with associate deans and other directors as well as the expanded leadership team comprising program chairs, school managers, and research center directors.
  • represent the school within the college and throughout the university as well as with stakeholders such as alumni and donors to promote the school’s current programs.
  • play a key role in advocating for the visual arts on campus as opportunities for new facilities arise.

Provide curricular leadership:

  • support and enhance existing programs and develop new programs that foster disciplinary depth, interdisciplinary breadth, teamwork and problem-solving skills, and promote a commitment to serving the public (see: T-shaped learning and discovery), while developing experiential learning within the curriculum
  • advance scholarship, collaboration, and creative synergies among SOVA programs, faculty, staff, and students and across the university
  • work with the college in furthering key strategic initiatives in the realization of the University’s Beyond Boundaries vision
  • work with faculty and the college to realize both curricular and research opportunities inherent in each of the college’s key strategic initiatives such as smart design and construction (including the Living Lab and Falls Church projects); and development of the practice-based PhD cohort in the Environmental Design and Planning PhD program.

Explore and extend partnerships/collaborative leadership:

  • develop fruitful external partnerships to enhance discovery and learning and support the school’s research and programs through fundraising and enhancing alumni relations
  • work collaboratively and creatively across the disciplines of the school, with the other schools within the college, and with other campus units including the Moss Arts Center, Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology, and others.

Manage SOVA:

  • support an ongoing active calendar of exhibits and visiting artists and scholars both through SOVA and as part of collaborative projects with other university as well as local venues.
  • oversee long-term and short-term planning for new SOVA facilities as part of the university’s Master Plan.

Promote Inclusivity:

  • cultivate a welcoming workplace and classrooms that reflect the diversity of Virginia Tech’s evolving community, including hiring plans, inclusive pedagogies, and public programs.
  • demonstrated commitment to equity and diversity

Required Qualifications:

  • Terminal degree in one of the four disciplines of the school with national and/or international recognition in one’s field
  • Credentials enabling appointment as a tenured professor within the school
  • Proven record of success in scholarship, leadership, and administration
  • Comprehensive knowledge of and strong networks within the contemporary arts
  • Demonstrated excellence and previous experience in visual arts leadership
  • Proven record of commitment to equity and diversity
  • Excellent communication, problem-solving and interpersonal skills
  • Experience in arts fundraising

Applications and supporting documents will be treated confidentially and must be submitted online at (Paper documents will not be accepted).

Applications must include:

  1. Cover letter
  2. Full curriculum vitae
  3. Complete contact information for at least three individuals willing to provide references
  4. Statement outlining interest in the position and possible areas of future potential for the School
  5. Statement of research and scholarship.

Questions concerning the position should be directed to the Chair of the Search Committee, Ruth Waalkes, Associate Provost for the Arts. Correspondence concerning electronic applications should be addressed to Christine Mattsson-Coon, College of Architecture and Urban Studies, 1325 Perry Street, 202 Cowgill Hall MC 0205, Blacksburg, VA 24061, Phone 540-231-6416, or by email to Application review will begin February 1, 2020 and the search will remain open until filled. The position will be available from July 10, 2020. Virginia Tech has a strong commitment to the principle of diversity and, in that spirit, seeks a broad spectrum of candidates, including women, minorities, veterans, and people with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities desiring accommodations in the application process or needing this material in an alternate format should notify the Chair of the Search Committee or the Virginia Tech Relay Service, 1-800-828-1120.