Inaugural Executive Director, Arts Initiative, University of Michigan

The University of Michigan (U-M)—one of the nation’s leading and most esteemed research universities—seeks a visionary, collaborative, and entrepreneurial leader to serve as the inaugural Executive Director of the Arts Initiative. Building upon a long history and legacy of artistic excellence at U-M, the Arts Initiative seeks to transform the university into an unrivaled destination for artists to make new work in collaboration with faculty and students, where students and experts in all fields learn from art’s unmatched ability to foster experimentation and risk-taking, and where scholarship and art intertwine to illuminate and advance local, national, and global conversations. This is a distinct opportunity to join a premier research university at a moment of unprecedented investment in the arts and to give shape to this nascent and growing university-wide initiative, in the context of a campus-wide effort to embed the arts across the depth and breadth of the university’s activity.

The Arts Initiative plays many roles at the university. It is simultaneously a convener, a funder, a programmer, an advocate, and a broadcaster. Part of the power of the initiative is its ability to mold itself to meet different needs across the university community, in concert with highest-level goals. The initiative was launched in 2019 with the goal of transforming U-M by promoting, enhancing, and supplementing the immense arts resources that already exist across the university. Following a successful initial start-up phase, the university has allocated $20 million in funding to the initiative over its next five years to enable its growth. The ED will lead the university community and the Arts Initiative team in creating a vision for and giving continuing shape to this growth. This work will involve connecting the university’s myriad arts and cultural resources in new ways to achieve greater reach and impact; catalyzing arts integration in research, scholarship, and creative activity across disciplines; enhancing communication efforts in order to increase awareness of and access to the arts; partnering with external communities to support, learn from, and amplify the cultural vitality of the region; and building capacity and sustainability for the arts, including through fundraising efforts. In all this work, the ED will lead with a deep commitment to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, ensuring that the arts are accessible and available to students, faculty, staff, and community members across the full range of human experience and academic inquiry.

The successful candidate will have distinguished achievement as an academic or professional in the arts. This person will have an appreciation for and understanding of the academic and educational mission of a top research university, a vision for the role the arts can play in strengthening such an institution, and a commitment to connecting the university to broader regional, national, and global conversations and communities. This person will have excellent communication skills and will be able to deploy them with stakeholders both internal and external to the university, including with community partners and donors. As the inaugural leader of a growing initiative, this person will have a track record of successful staff and budgetary management within a relevant organization.

The University of Michigan has retained Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to assist in this important recruitment. Please submit all inquiries, nominations, and applications (including CVs and letters of interest) through the Isaacson, Miller website: https://www.imsearch.com/open-searches/university-michigan-ann-arbor/executive-director-arts-initiative