New College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Michael S. Tick wants to get to know members of the VPA community in their element.
Whether it’s at a concert, play, exhibition, film screening, symposium or other performance or event, he’ll be there to support faculty and student endeavors, key into what they’re most passionate about and just appreciate the creative and scholarly work that thrives within the college.
Along with engaging with faculty, students and staff, Tick has several priorities as he begins his tenure, including strengthening the college’s financial and administrative processes, looking at development initiatives and instructional spaces, and increasing the numbers of students studying abroad.
Before coming to Syracuse, Tick served as dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, where he managed a $38 million budget and 180 faculty in art and visual studies, music, theater, dance and arts administration, as well as the university’s accredited art museum and performing arts center.
During his time at the University of Kentucky, the College of Fine Arts secured more than $45 million in state appropriations and private philanthropy for capital projects and academic programs. These included the acquisition and renovation of a historic building for the School of Art and Visual Studies and the establishment of a Creative Arts Living Learning Community, housed in a new 1,100-bed residential hall.
Under his leadership, the Arts Administration Program established the first fully online master’s program in arts administration at a public university, and a graduate program in music therapy, a partnership with UK HealthCare. Strategic partnerships with colleges across campus were also key to Tick’s administration.
Outside of his leadership roles in higher education, he has taught acting, directing, voice and speech, and has widespread credits in producing, directing and company management.
In the following Q&A, Tick discusses his priorities for his first year and what excites him most about his new role as dean.
Q: What are your priorities for your first year?
A: We will be recruiting and hiring a chief financial officer so that we can strengthen our financial and administrative processes; at present the college has no one in that position. We also will be recruiting and hiring an assistant dean for advancement, a vacant position for almost two years. We look forward to ramping up our development initiatives to address scholarships and other college priorities. We have begun an inventory of our instructional facilities to determine challenges and opportunities with them. I’m also interested in evaluating our study abroad programs with an eye toward increasing the number of students who participate.
Q: What is your plan for engaging students and collaborating with faculty?
A: First and foremost, it’s a priority of mine to attend events in support of faculty and students—concerts, plays, installations, exhibitions, film screenings and symposia, etc. I want to be engaged in their creative and scholarly endeavors. For example, two faculty members in our Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies will be receiving career achievement awards from the National Communication Association at the NCA’s annual convention in Philadelphia, and I’m going to attend. Also, my office will be setting up ongoing forums for VPA students, faculty and staff that will allow me to hear what they are excited about, where they have concerns and the areas where they feel we can improve.
Q: What excites you most about your new role as dean?
A: In addition to working on enhancing the student and faculty experience, I’m excited to work with what is essentially a new upper University administration—the Chancellor is relatively new, the provost is new and there will be a new chief financial officer and senior vice president for the new Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience. I’m also enjoying the opportunity to work with my new colleagues at VPA and connect with artists and community leaders in the Central New York region. Finally, I’m excited to learn about and visit the University’s campuses around the globe.
Q: What do you do in your spare time to balance your demanding role as a leader, scholar and educator?
A: In our spare time, my wife, Cathy, and I like to go to New York City, where we’ll see three plays in three days and manage a few museum visits. We’ve also had a great time learning more about the region, visiting restaurants and going to the State Fair. We’ve been able to visit our two daughters, one who is in graduate school in Boston and the other who works in Manhattan. Our youngest daughter is a junior at Fayetteville-Manlius High School, and I’m sure we will be attending a lot of events there.