Nancy J. Uscher, president of Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts, has been named dean of UNLV’s College of Fine Arts. She will begin the role this summer.
As dean, Uscher will oversee seven departments and schools and the UNLV Performing Arts Center. The College of Fine Arts has 90 full-time faculty and close to 3,000 students seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees.
As Cornish College’s chief executive officer, Uscher implemented the vision for the 700-student undergraduate institution. She oversaw all aspects of its academic programs, including art, design, film/media, theater, performance production, music, and dance, as well as humanities and sciences.
“Nancy’s academic and leadership background is world-class,” said UNLV provost Diane Chase. “The infusion of creative activity from fine arts throughout the university is central to our Top Tier mission, and Nancy’s experience as a teacher, artist, and senior administrator will help the college continue its upward trajectory.”
Uscher, who was also named a presidential professor of music, said she is looking forward to bringing her philosophy of promoting faculty and student achievement and empowerment to UNLV, and to continuing the college’s strong reputation.
"I am thrilled and honored to be joining UNLV, and I look forward to building on the wonderful attributes of the College of Fine Arts,” said Uscher. “Together with the outstanding college community and guided by the dynamic forward momentum of our disciplines, we will explore and celebrate research and professional practice in the arts, work in exciting ways with our fellow colleges, and continue to offer a stellar education to our students.”
Prior to her five-year presidential term at Cornish, Uscher was provost for seven years – and for six months co-acting president – of the California Institute of the Arts, where she was also on the music faculty. She previously spent 12 years at the University of New Mexico as professor of music, and, at various times, department chair, director of a center and associate provost. She also taught in the women studies program.
“I see the UNLV College of Fine Arts becoming a state, national and international leader in the arts and higher education as well as a solid and rich contributor to the inspiring aspirations of the university," said Uscher.
A concert violist, Uscher earned her bachelor’s degree in music at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, her master’s degree in music at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and her Ph.D. from New York University. She also holds a certificate of advanced study and A.R.C.M. from the Royal College of Music in London and also studied at The Juilliard School in New York City.
Uscher had an international career as a violist that spanned more than two decades, including six years as co-principal violist of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. She has authored dozens of articles, mainly for music publications, and two books.
Uscher replaces Jeffrey Koep, who led the College of Fine Arts from 1995 until 2015, when he returned to the theatre faculty. Under Koep’s leadership, arts at the university were elevated to national status.
The College of Fine Arts includes departments and/or schools of art, dance, film, theatre, architecture, and music. Fine Arts students have won acclaim for their work both nationally and internationally, and graduates are employed with performances on Broadway and in their chosen career fields.
Through the College of Fine Arts, UNLV is firmly integrated into the emerging visual arts scene in Southern Nevada – which includes the university’s agreement with the Las Vegas Art Museum to store and show the collection after that facility closed. The artwork is now part of the UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum.