Opinions & Features May 13, 2021 at 11:00 am

Phylicia Rashad on her new role as dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts

Ama Nunoo May 13, 2021 at 11:00 am

May 13, 2021 at 11:00 am | Opinions & Features

Phylicia Rashad arrives at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles in 2019. Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Everyone’s favorite on-screen mom, Phylicia Rashad, is the new dean of the College of Fine Arts at Howard University. She will officially head the newly re-established College of Fine Arts from July 1, the school announced.

The Howard University alum and award-winning actress will report to provost Anthony K. Wutoh.

“One of the things we have to look at as an academic institution is where you have practitioners that have appropriate experience, it has to be considered,” Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said. “Her experience in fine arts is extremely important.”

Rashad, 72, took courses in Greek theatre, psychology and French history at the school and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in fine arts in 1970.

Her career took off from Broadway not long after. She took on her iconic role as Clair Huxtable, Bill Cosby’s wife, on the 1980s hit series “The Cosby Show.”

The training she received at the Northwest Washington school played an instrumental role in shaping her theatrical skills and she deems her role as dean a privilege. “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,” Rashad said in a statement.

The “This Is Us” star’s roles will be centered around teaching, modernizing the school’s curriculum, expanding enrollment among fine arts majors, and designing a more modern, fine arts building, according to Frederick, Washington Post reports.

He added that there is no better person to take up the mantle than Rashad. “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.

“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.”

The decorated actress has 13 honorary doctorate degrees from schools such as Howard, Carnegie Mellon, Brown, and Spelman College. She has taught many master classes and has been a guest lecturer at different institutions including her alma mater Howard.

Her relationship with Howard is a family affair, her father and sister are all past students. Rashad has been on Howard’s board of trustees twice, first from 1996 to 1999 and then from 2013 to 2016.

Her role as dean by no means translates to her retiring from acting. Before her appointment was confirmed, she told HuffPost that she has many works in the pipeline. “I will be a working artist,” she said.

Rashad’s contract with Howard is for three years.

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