Howard University recently named award-winning TV, stage and film actress and director Phylicia Rashad as dean of its College of Fine Arts. Rashad was a theater acting major at Howard, where she pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She graduated magna cum laude in 1970 with a bachelor’s in fine arts.
This exciting announcement also marks the return of Howard’s College of Fine Arts as an independent school within the university. Howard merged the College of Fine Arts within its College of Arts and Sciences in 1998, which upset many of the university’s performing and visual art students, faculty and alumni.
“The discipline and study of fine arts are not understood,” explained Rashad. “They are undervalued. And that happens so much around the world. People imagine musicians, designers and actors just wake up and do what we do. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The discipline of fine arts was like training for the military.”
Before perfecting her role as Clair Huxtable on the 1980s “The Cosby Show,” Rashad began her career on Broadway. Since then, she has successfully returned to the stage for numerous performances. She is the first Black actress to win the Tony for Best Actress, an award she received in 2004 for her performance as Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun by playwright Lorraine Hansberry.
Rashad’s ties to Howard University run deep. Her sister, award-winning dancer, choreographer, actor and director Debbie Allen graduated from Howard in 1971. Her father, Andrew Arthur Allen, graduated from Howard’s College of Dentistry in 1945.
Excited about her return to the university, Rashad said that she would like to see the fine arts program blossom. “I would love to see us be a premiere program at the university. I would like to see the College of Fine Arts not only re-established, but see it exulted.” Howard University recently announced on May 26th that they would be renaming the College of Fine Arts the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts to honor their iconic alumnus Chadwick A. Boseman.
Agreeing to a three-year contract, she will reportedly move to Washington DC while also commuting between New York and Los Angeles for theatrical and television work. Her role as dean begins on July 1st.
Howard reportedly had 307 students enrolled in its fine arts program this spring. It’s impressive list of alumni include such acclaimed performers as Taraji P. Henson, Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway and Ossie Davis.
We are incredibly excited for Phylicia Rashad to return to her roots and begin her journey as Dean of Howard’s College of Fine Arts!