As the new dean of the College of the Arts, I want to extend a personal welcome to the students, faculty and staff in the College. I am joining you during a time of significant change and opportunity, and I am thrilled to be on board to help students grow artistically on the road to serving the greater Pacific Northwest community.

2013-2014 is our first academic year as a College – a special distinction reflecting the scope, vitality and quality of our pre-professional training programs – the Schools of Architecture, Art + Design, Music, and Theatre + Film. As a symbol of our rising stature, we recently witnessed completion of the soaring Lincoln Hall Glass Tower, a new front door for the university and beacon for the arts made possible by a generous gift from Arlene Schnitzer. The iconic tower adds important new academic facilities to our campus footprint, including an art gallery, experimental theatre, and new studios. Our grand opening celebration occurred on January 28, 2014.

My entire professional life has been defined by the challenges, opportunities and rewards of innovative arts-education leadership, organizational collaboration, and entrepreneurship. For the past six years I have served as the Dean of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication at California State University, Northridge, and as the Executive Director of the Valley Performing Arts Center. I began my professional journey as a high-school and middle-school vocal music teacher, and along the way served as a music professor, Director of the Education Department for the Metropolitan Opera-Metropolitan Opera Guild in New York City, Dean of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and Dean of the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

In every position I have been part of a large community working to build, improve and strengthen the arts, culture, and student success from cradle to career. I am honored to bring this experience to Portland State, a university I was drawn to because of its outstanding leadership, clear mission and institutional momentum. As evidence, U.S. News & World Report for the second year in a row ranks PSU as a top 10 “up-and-coming” national university in its Best Colleges 2014 guidebook – and the arts are an important part of that successful story. 

As Oregon’s largest public university, and as the largest College of the Arts in the state,  we are vital to the development of the next generation of creatives – the innovators, architects, artists, designers, theatre and film artists, and musicians – that will improve and enhance a vibrant cultural community.

Never has higher education been more important. Never has the creative community been more essential to the quality of life in a great city. And never has your role as a student, faculty, staff or friend meant more to the College. I encourage you to join me in embracing all that our College has to offer – attend, participate and support our events and performances. Our College is a place for self-discovery, imagination and growth, and I look forward to sharing these experiences with you.

Wm. Robert Bucker
Dean, College of the Arts