“I think the School of Visual and Performing Arts at C.W. Post is one of the best kept secrets in New York,” Dr. Noel Zahler, the new dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts, said during a recent interview with the Pioneer.
On October 3, 2011, Dr. Zahler began the next chapter of his academic career as the new Dean. He was formerly affiliated with Connecticut College, the University of Minnesota and Carnegie Mellon University, where he founded interdisciplinary programs.
Dr. Zahler said he took the job as Dean because it was an opportunity to become a dean in a school that embraces a large number of his interests. He is honored, humbled and excited about the “opportunities and possibilities that the school has in front of it,” he said.
Dr. Zahler said he is looking forward to creating a greater awareness of the School of Visual and Performing Arts, giving it more regional, national and international visibility. “I came here because I believe in this faculty and because, Dr. Jeffrey Kane, the vice president for academic affairs, assured me that the arts are central to the educational mission of this campus. His vision of a stronger, more competitive and better-known college is something that I’m eager to help make a reality,” he said.
Dr. Zahler thinks one of the greatest assets C.W. Post has is the Tilles Center. “We need to work more closely with the Tilles Arts Center and create programs that include the world-class performers and ensembles that come through that Center,” he said. He added, “The Tilles Center is one of the largest performing arts centers outside of Manhattan. It is similar to the relationship the Julliard School has with Lincoln Center. I want to make sure students and the community are aware of this opportunity. It’s an important component of our program and one that distinguishes our school and our campus.”
Dr. Zahler looks forward to working with faculty and students to create stronger programs, new areas of study and a new visibility for what they do, adding, “We need to think about the future and figure out where we want to be in five years and in ten years and fill in the steps to get there; it has to be a shared vision.” The School of Visual and Performing Arts includes the Department of Art, the Department of Media Arts, the Department of Music, and the Department of Theatre, Film, Dance & Arts Management.
Dr. Zahler’s biggest challenge as new dean will be finances and resources. “We are on the heels of a major economic crisis where the economy has dried up and the arts are the first to feel it. Being able to find resources will be one of the most difficult challenges,” he said.
The School of Visual and Performing Arts has a lot of opportunities in front of it in the hands of Dr. Zahler; “I am extremely excited to be appointed Dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts. I’m very interested in getting to know the students and faculty and lending my help in whatever manner is most appropriate to move the school forward.”