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Director and actress Phylicia Rashad is a visionary who has been instrumental in shaping the landscape of the arts, and in her next role she will empower future generations to do the same. Rashad is returning to her alma mater Howard University to serve as the dean of the institution’s College of Fine Arts, the school announced.

For Rashad, the appointment is a full-circle moment. Nearly 51 years ago, she graduated from the Washington, D.C.-based HBCU magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in fine arts. Since then, she has established herself as a pillar in the arts industry by using her artistry—whether on screen, on stage or behind the scenes in the director’s chair—as a vessel to bring poignant narratives to the forefront. Her credits include her pivotal role on The Cosby Show, This Is Us and Empire and movies that include For Colored Girls, Creed, the 2008 film adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun and countless other projects. She has also served on several boards for organizations that sit at the intersection of culture and the arts.

Rashad is excited to take on the role and looks forward to helping the institution rebuild its College of Fine Arts. “It is a privilege to serve in this capacity and to work with the Howard University administration, faculty and students in reestablishing the College of Fine Arts,” she said in a statement. Wayne A. I. Frederick, Howard University President, says Rashad will play a transformative role in continuing to cultivate community around the arts on Howard’s campus. “As we reintroduce our campus community and the world at large to Howard’s College of Fine Arts, the dean will play an instrumental role in ensuring an auspicious beginning for this reestablished institution,” he said in a statement. “Given Ms. Rashad’s reputation as well as her capabilities and impressive list of accomplishments, she will undoubtedly empower the college to transcend even our incredibly high expectations. Under her leadership, Howard will continue to inspire and cultivate the artists and leaders who will shape our niche and national cultures for generations to come.” Rashad will officially step into her role on July 1.

Her appointment comes at a time when there is a need for more diversity in the arts and more arts programs at historically Black colleges and universities.


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