Editor’s Note — Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of art history at the University of Vermont, withdrew from the search on March 4 and will not interview on March 7-8. Christopher Marks’ interview will remain on March 9-10. Learn more about the search and the finalists.
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has named four finalists for the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts dean position.
Selected through a national search, the candidates will visit campus between Feb. 28 and March 10.
Candidates will participate in multiple-day interviews with a variety of college stakeholders. Public presentations, each at 3:30 p.m. in the Lied Center for Performing Arts’ Steinhart Room, will be offered in-person and via Zoom.
The finalists, listed by public presentation date, are:
March 1 — Andrew (Andy) Belser, director of and professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television at the University of Arizona. Attend via Zoom.
March 4 — Kern Maass, dean of the College of Music and Media and professor of design at Loyola University New Orleans. Attend via Zoom.
March 8 — Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of art history at the University of Vermont. Attend via Zoom.
March 10 — Christopher Marks, interim dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts and professor of music at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Attend via Zoom.
Additional candidate information, including Zoom links for virtual public presentations, curriculum vitae, and candidate evaluation forms, is available on the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts dean search website.
The Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts includes the School of Art, Art History and Design, the Glenn Korff School of Music, the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, and the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center. Affiliated units include the Lied Center for Performing Arts and Sheldon Museum of Art.
The dean is the chief academic and administrative officer of the college and will lead the strategic, programmatic, financial, fundraising, and management operations that support the mission and vision of the college. The dean serves as the college’s public voice, developing its reputation on the national and international stages, and within the profession. The dean reports directly to the executive vice chancellor and works with fellow deans and campus leaders in collaboration, support and commitment to the university.
Andrew (Andy) Besler
- Interviews: Feb. 28 to March 1
- Public presentation: 3:30 p.m., March 1
Belser is director of and professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television and leads arts and medicine initiatives at the University of Arizona, teaching at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and performance. He recently launched the project ‘Stories Travel,’ engaging youth from regional Latinx and Indigenous communities in film, sound, and performance projects to help them imagine their stories as important elements of potential university study and beyond.
Prior to Arizona, Belser taught in the Master of Fine Arts acting program at Penn State University and was founding director of the Arts and Design Research Incubator where he mentored artists, designers and scientists in research and creation of art and science projects targeted for further funding and presentation at national and international venues.
As a principal investigator on the National Institutes of Health-funded “I Lookout for Child Abuse,” Belser wrote and directed films to educate childcare workers. He created film and theatre projects for a National Science Foundation-funded project educating citizens about environmental and social concerns around gas drilling in Pennsylvania. He was named Penn State Laureate for his creation and national tour of a multi-media installation exploring cross-generational interactions. He was founding artistic director of “The Gravity Project,” a professional theatre company, international performance research center, and new work incubator. He has directed theatre works spanning from reimagined classics to devised works.
Belser holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication arts and theatre from Grove City College, a Master of Arts in theatre from Villanova, and a Master of Fine Arts in directing from Virginia Tech.
- Interviews: March 3-4
- Public presentation: 3:30 p.m., March 4
Maass is dean of the College of Music and Media and professor of design at Loyola University New Orleans. He has more than 20 years of leadership experience with both public and private universities.
In addition to roles as a dean with continuous terms and as an associate dean, his other leadership roles have dealt with program development, community engagement, campus-wide strategy implementation, enrollment growth, curriculum, policy, assessment, intellectual property, industry partnerships and accreditation. His portfolio of different leadership scenarios and situations, including helping to lead an institution through adversity, has given him a unique perspective on how to position, build value and leverage creative practices in multiple contexts.
Beyond higher education, he founded his own furniture design business, which led to the exhibition of his work both nationally and internationally.
He currently serves on the board of trustees for the University of Holy Cross, has served as the president of the Furniture Society, been on the board of directors of the Bienenstock Furniture Library, and was vice-chair of the furniture section of the Industrial Designers Society of America.
Maass’ passion is to solve problems and create organizational buy-in for “Design Thinking” by decoding, communicating, and using the process in day-to-day practice. His success stems from “leading and learning by doing,” which allows this process to resonate through all business levels with which he engages.
Maass has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation and a Master of Fine Arts in Furniture Design, both from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio
- Interviews: March 7-8
- Public presentation: 3:30 p.m., March 8
Di Dio is associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of art history at the University of Vermont. She has served as acting chair of the Departments of Art and Art History and of Music, as well as associate dean for the arts and for faculty affairs.
A dedicated advocate for the arts, Di Dio has shepherded the creation of a new School of the Arts to better unite and strengthen these programs and has done significant fundraising and stewardship that has resulted in new faculty, student grants and scholarships, renovations of facilities, new equipment purchases and substantial funding for internships. She has increased the diversity of the arts faculty, programs, curriculum and pedagogical approaches through a successful anti-racist curriculum initiative. She has also provided support for faculty with mentorship programs, trainings, and a discussion series to create a more inclusive and supportive climate for faculty and students.
Di Dio is a scholar of Italian and Iberian Renaissance sculpture and has published five books (with two more forthcoming in 2022) and dozens of articles and essays. She has held major research fellowships from Harvard University and the Kress Foundation, among others, and has lectured at universities and museums across Europe, the U.S., and Canada, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid.
Di Dio is a dedicated teacher-scholar and mentor and received her institution’s top award for excellence in teaching. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in art history from Mary Washington College and a Master of Arts and doctorate in art history from Rutgers University.
- Interviews: March 9-10
- Public presentation: 3:30 p.m., March 10
Marks is interim dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts and professor of music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He served as associate dean of the college from 2015-2021, overseeing a varied portfolio including academic affairs, research, student affairs, and faculty affairs, and has also served as interim director of both the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film and the School of Art, Art History and Design.
His accomplishments as associate dean include overhauling and administering the Hixson-Lied faculty and student grants program, shepherding three new undergraduate degrees through final approval, developing a college curriculum handbook and new faculty handbook, supporting and promoting faculty research and creative activity, facilitating promotion and tenure processes, and coordinating student advisory boards.
Marks joined Nebraska’s faculty in 2006 and has taught organ, music theory and baroque performance practice. Prior to coming to Nebraska, he taught organ and served as university organist for seven years at Syracuse University.
As a performer and researcher, he has focused particularly on American organ music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His recordings include a three-volume series devoted to the organ music of American composer Seth Bingham.
He holds a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from the University of Richmond, a Master of Music in piano and organ performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in organ performance from the Eastman School of Music.