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UF College of the Arts aims for transformation through new wave of faculty hires

Through a unique hiring process, the University of Florida College of the Arts called on college faculty and staff to develop a unifying charge for 19 new faculty members—15 of which are newly created positions.

The charge seeks to expand the role of the arts as agents of change in a variety of fields and social contexts.

This unifying charge—or “meta-narrative”—states the college’s position in exploring the complexity of the evolving human experience and empowering students and faculty to fearlessly shape that experience through critical study, creative practice and provocation.

“The meta-narrative is a statement, but it is also a process that we are engaging among ourselves,” says Onye Ozuzu, dean of the UF College of the Arts. “That process is refining our own sense of clarity about who we are calling for and why.”

The 19 positions, which are being posted throughout the fall 2018 semester, range across disciplines in the College of the Arts School of Art + Art HistorySchool of MusicSchool of Theatre + DanceCenter for Arts in Medicine and Digital Worlds Institute. Each position contains the same call:

“We seek a colleague who identifies as a change-maker. We seek a colleague who will prepare students to access and unsettle centers of power in a radically changing world. We seek a colleague who will position emerging artists and researchers as catalysts for equity on local and global levels.”

“We see the future of the arts as one where art and artists function in collaboration with other agents of dynamic, unprecedented change to the platform for life,” Ozuzu says. “Those agents range from our own paradigm shifting technologies, to changes in environment, in politics, in media, and in the migratory patterns of the human family.”

Through a uniquely democratic and comprehensive process, the UF College of the Arts’ current 120 faculty and 30 staff members collaborated to develop this meta-narrative. A committee of school directors, deans, and faculty members submitted ideas for the language, which appears at the top of every job description.

The language was then consolidated and posted to an internal discussion board for all college faculty and staff to comment on and provide feedback. From the discussion board, a writing committee compiled the final meta-narrative that appears on each job’s position.

 “This process provides an opportunity for the entire college to redefine the meaning of our work, focusing as much on what the work an artist does—and can do—in the world as the works we create,” says Dr. Anthony Kolenic, assistant dean for research, technology, and administrative affairs.  

The 19 positions will each have their own search committee and an additional consultant from outside the discipline of appointment. This consultant—named the provocateur—will evaluate the candidate’s aptitude in the area of the meta-narrative and ensure the committee’s discussions include the college’s most ambitious overarching goals.

“The inclusion of a provocateur expands the hiring process to be about more than possessing the highest level of expertise in a particular discipline,” says Barbara Mitola, director of human resources for the UF College of the Arts. “The provocateur helps facilitate discussions around the values inherent in the meta-narrative during the search process.”

Of the full hiring wave, 15 of the positions will be new to the college, creating more opportunities for students and potential for programs. The positions are only a portion of the University of Florida’s 2-year initiative to hire 500 new faculty positions by 2019. The College of the Arts already hired 11 in the first year of the initiative.

Interested candidates can apply at arts.ufl.edu/jobs.