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Performing Arts and Humanities

The performing arts and humanities are fundamental to the human experience and play a foundational role in the life and culture of the University. Through the engagement with great works of music and art and works examining literature, history, and culture, we gain a greater insight into our very beings. The performing arts and humanistic inquiry foster creative, rigorous, and critical thinking; empathy; and new perspectives, all of which are essential attributes of informed citizenship in a democratic, technologically advanced and global society. The performing arts and humanities are not an escape from the serious work of everyday life—they are essential for personal development and essential elements of being human.

The University of Rochester has a remarkable array of unique strengths in the performing arts and humanities, including the Eastman School of Music, considered one of the leading music schools in the world; the Memorial Art Gallery, a regional treasure with a distinguished art collection; the School of Arts & Sciences that has committed itself to the value of the humanities and performing arts in a profound way by creating a Humanities Center (HC) and an Institute for the Performing Arts (IPA) in addition to an International Theatre Program and a Department of Music; a School of Medicine and Dentistry that has a division of Medical Humanities; the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences that offers degrees in audio and music engineering; nationally ranked research libraries, including special collections holdings that serve as a laboratory for the humanities; and countless opportunities for students to engage with or major or minor in these programs and many more in ways that fit their individual aspirations.

The performing arts and humanities, perhaps more than any other disciplines on campus, unite research, education, health care, and community and thus truly are a driving influence in each aspect of the strategic plan currently being developed.

By 2021, the top priorities are

  • Commit to greater collaboration among all areas of the performing arts and humanities among the individual units, as well as with the entire University, to create a collective impact that is significantly greater than that of the individual units alone.
  • Complete the Sloan Theatre on the River Campus.
  • Secure a financial and academic structure that supports humanities and performing arts.
  • Significantly strengthen the financial foundation of the Eastman School of Music, one of the University’s most internationally recognized programs, as the school prepares for a second century of international leadership.

The performing arts and the humanities provide a rigorous contrast and an enriched environment in which every member of the University community is confronted with an aesthetic and intellectual opportunity that poses unexpected but welcome challenges that further their intellectual, personal, cultural, and civic growth. Thus, the University’s mission to support development of critical thinking and creativity is firmly grounded and fulfilled by exploration of research and practice by students and faculty in the humanities and performing arts. These pursuits firmly ground the University’s mission and offer intellectual and cultural transformation. Thus, this helps to define and further the distinctive “University of Rochester Experience” and to advance the excellence of the entire University community.



Gloria Culver, Cochair (AS&E)
Jamal Rossi, Cochair (Eastman)
Betsy Marvin (Eastman)
John Covach (AS&E/Eastman)
John Hain (Eastman)
Jessica Lacher-Feldman (Libraries)
Joanie Rubin (AS&E)
Jonathan Binstock (MAG)
Stephanie Clark-Brown (AS&E)

Liaisons to the Working Group

Advancement: Jason Gray, Associate Vice President of University Advancement, AS&E
Communications: Amy McDonald, Associate Vice President for Communications and Strategy
Financial Sustainability: Michele Gibson, Senior Associate Dean, Eastman