By Emma Robinson, Staff Writer
A new dean of arts, communication and design, Dr. Jennifer Holmes, officially joined Shark Nation two weeks before the school decided to have their administrative and academic offices operate remotely.
“It’s an invigorating time to be in a new job connecting to a vibrant community of artists, educators and entrepreneurs,” Holmes said.
Prior to applying for the dean’s position, Holmes earned degrees in theatre from New York University and Vassar College, and was an associate dean for the School of Drama at The New School in New York.
During her time at The New School, she developed partnerships with theatre companies such as Frantic Assembly, Elevator Repair Service and the Wooster Group. She directed two shows with professional and student collaborators which were performed at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center and The Great Hall of Cooper Union. She also started The Cultural Change Task Force, a group made up of students, faculty, and administration who care deeply about issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, as well as changing the culture of the professional world.
Holmes founded her own international theatre company in 2006 called Global Empowerment Theatre in which they facilitated social justice focused theatre projects in Zanzibar, Kenya, India, Myanmar and the United States.
Holmes was excited during the application process for the dean’s position and was inspired by the LIU faculty she met during that time.
“I love engaging with people and learning about their interests, research and practice,” she said. “I enjoyed learning more about LIU and [their] leadership’s vision for the future.”
Much of the new dean’s time thus far has consisted of working online, including virtual meetings all day that usually run into the evenings, as well as planning and coordinating the school’s next steps as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.
“I’m so inspired and impressed by the faculty and their commitment to their students during these demanding times,” Holmes said. “I feel like [administration] are all learning together to create elegant solutions, pushing our creative capacities to their fullest to reimagine delivering an incredible experience to each and every student across the many and varied curricula of the college.”
While Holmes said she appreciates the emails and opportunities to speak with current and newly admitted students over the phone, she cannot wait until LIU becomes a campus community again.
“I cannot believe the creativity, flexibility, passion with which [members of the school] create together, support each other, and make LIU such a special place to work, learn and live,” she said.
Holmes’ plans as the new dean are to bring in artists and experts from a variety of disciplines to elevate the school to an even higher position on a national level.
“I look forward to increasing our visibility nationally and internationally, creating partnerships with artists and organizations that will inspire and hire our students,” she said. “My practice has been deeply enriched from all the work I have done around the world and I want our students to become impressive world citizens.”