PHILADELPHIA.- Following an extensive international search, Harvard University arts leader Sean T. Buffington has been selected as President and CEO of The University of the Arts (UArts), University Board Chair Ronald J. Naples announced today. Most recently, Buffington served as Associate Provost for Arts and Culture and Director of Cultural Programs at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass.
The institution's third president since it attained university status in 1987, Buffington, 38, begins his tenure on South Broad Street on August 15. The La Plata, Md., native succeeds Miguel Angel Corzo, who served the University for seven years.
"I am exceedingly pleased that Sean will be coming to The University of the Arts and to Philadelphia," said Naples. "He brings to us a passion for the arts and the growing role it can play in our society, as well as a dedication to interdisciplinary learning. His past roles have put him at the center of integrating and developing arts programs and learning in a powerful academic environment - experience which will serve us extremely well at UArts, given our ambitious academic goals and our aspirations to become a global leader in arts education. The UArts community knows the power of the arts and is committed to excellence, and we have high expectations that Sean's vision, energy, and leadership will greatly extend our reach. After a long and extensive search and the chance to talk to many strong candidates, Sean rose to the top as the Board's unanimous choice. On behalf of UArts and our Board of Trustees, I welcome him to our community."
Buffington, who has worked at Harvard for the past 13 years in a variety of administrative roles, begins his tenure at UArts after a year in which the institution achieved record enrollment and an $80M endowment bolstered by over $60M in trustee giving, including $50M by Board chair emeriti Dorrance H. "Dodo" Hamilton.
"I am honored that the Board has entrusted me with the responsibility of leading The University of the Arts," said Buffington, who has also served on the boards of two performing arts organizations in the Boston area. "This is a singular institution with a storied history and, I believe, a remarkable future. The community of this University - faculty, students, alumni, administrators - has the potential to transform the arts in this country. Because of our commitment to cross-disciplinary learning and experimentation, UArts is in the vanguard, not only of education but also of artistic expression. That may sound ambitious, but I think this institution and its students and faculty demand ambition. I look forward to working with them and with my colleagues on the Board and in the administration to realize these ambitions."
Named Harvard's Associate Provost for Arts and Culture and Director of Cultural Programs in 2005, Buffington has overseen arts activities and planning for the cultural elements of Harvard's new campus in Allston, Mass. The University's principal representative to arts and cultural institutions in the Boston region, Buffington was also responsible for Harvard's Tony-award winning American Repertory Theatre; the Harvard University Art Museums, which have one of the ten largest art collections in the US; and Villa I Tatti, Harvard's Center for Italian Renaissance Studies.
Previously, Buffington served as Deputy Chief-of-Staff to the President and Provost. In addition to serving as Provost Steven E. Hyman's chief adviser and director of operations, Buffington also managed the arts, humanities and social science portfolios on behalf of the Provost and oversaw financial, administrative and academic matters for several academic programs.
Buffington began his professional career at Harvard as assistant director of the University's alumni association from 1994 to 1997. He then worked in the University's development office from 1997 to 1999 with responsibility for strategic planning and fundraising for several new cross-disciplinary programs. As Assistant Provost for Interfaculty Programs from 1999 to 2002, Buffington supervised the operations of 10 interfaculty programs and centers.
Buffington graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and American literature and Afro-American studies. He was a Harvard College National Scholar and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. As a Regents Fellow, Buffington earned a Master of Art degree in American culture from the University of Michigan in 1994. While serving as an instructor at Michigan, Buffington developed and taught interdisciplinary undergraduate courses in history and ethnic studies.
The University of the Arts is the nation's first and only university dedicated to the visual, performing and communication arts. Its 2,300 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs on its campus in the heart of Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts. Its history as a leader in educating creative individuals spans more than 130 years.