Kurt Daw named dean of College of Creative Arts
August 14, 2008 -- Kurt Daw's career in the arts started in an introductory theatre class at the University of Idaho. Daw began the class as an agriculture major filling an elective requirement. He finished the semester with an appreciation for Chekhov and a new direction in his life. After nearly three decades as a theatre and opera director and educator, Daw comes to SF State as the new dean of the College of Creative Arts.
"In Kurt Daw, we have found an exceptional individual to whom we can entrust one of SF State’s greatest resources -- its wide-ranging and nationally recognized creative arts programs," President Robert A. Corrigan said. "His record is stellar in every respect. The faculty he has led admire and trust him; students have benefited demonstrably from the leadership and academic initiatives he has developed for them, and community members have been inspired to provide tangible support for university arts programs."
Throughout his artistic career, Daw has built a reputation as an effective promoter of the arts. His initiation to theatre leadership came in Minneapolis, where he spent a year working by day in a small theatre in Minneapolis and nights in the famous Guthrie Theatre, gaining experience in all aspects of theatre work. Just out of graduate school in the 1980s, Daw and his wife Hillary Hight started The Public Opera of Dallas, a small company they built from the ground up. Later, at Kennesaw State University, Daw pieced together a theatre department class by class, fundraising and helping the arts take root.
"I think of myself as an arts entrepreneur," said Daw, who comes to SF State from the State University of New York at New Paltz. "I find the process of building teams and assembling talent to be really exciting. I love that feeling of watching things grow that you create."
Daw has also served in several other leadership positions, including one year as an American Council on Education Fellow, and two terms as president of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the nation's largest association for theatre arts and performance studies, faculty members and academic departments. The position allowed Daw a first-hand look at the issues facing creative arts education across the country and experience in advocating for theatre and the creative arts. He has written three widely-used books on acting.
"Kurt Daw is a proven leader and passionate steward of the creative arts," Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs John Gemello said. "His experience at building successful programs in academia and leading national theatre organizations will be invaluable as he builds upon the creative foundation at San Francisco State."
Daw comes to SF State at a time of great change in the College of Creative Arts. The University plans to break ground in 2010 on the Mashouf Creative Arts Center, which strengthens the College's role as a leading center for creativity in San Francisco and the region -- something Daw looks to promote as dean.
"We live in a world that calls for innovation, creativity and connectivity," he said. "I really believe a creative degree gives you the skills and resources to live in that world."
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