Phylicia Rashad to step down as dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts
Veteran actress-director who joined faculty at her alma mater in 2021 will leave after 2023-2024 school year
Emmy- and Tony Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad will step down from her position as dean of Howard University’s Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts after the 2023-2024 academic year.
Howard president Wayne A. I. Frederick announced the news in an email sent to Howard students and faculty on Monday. In the email Frederick, who will retire from Howard in September, thanked Rashad for the work she has done for the school since being hired in May 2021.
“We deeply appreciate Dean Rashad’s selfless contributions and commitment to our alma mater during her leadership of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts and the many contributions she has made to Howard University’s students, graduates, and global community,” Frederick said in the announcement.
The university will begin its search for Rashad’s replacement shortly, he added. Rashad has not yet commented on the news.
Rashad, who graduated from Howard in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts before launching a critically acclaimed career as an actress and director, is known widely for her role as Clair Huxtable on 1980s sitcom The Cosby Show. In 2004, Rashad became the first Black actress to win the Tony Award for best actress in a play for her role in a revival of A Raisin in the Sun. She won her second Tony in 2022 for best featured actress in a play for her performance in Skeleton Crew. She is also the inaugural holder of the Toni Morrison Endowed Chair in Arts and Humanities at Howard.
Read the full announcement below.
August 7, 2023
Dear Howard University Community,
I am writing to express my deep thanks and gratitude to Dean Phylicia Rashad of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, as she has informed me that she will be stepping down as dean at the end of her term following the 2023-2024 academic year.
An internationally acclaimed actor and stage director, Dean Rashad has held a longstanding commitment to arts education and literacy, having served as adjunct faculty, Master Instructor, and Guest Artist/Lecturer and administrator at several colleges, universities and arts organizations which include Howard University, New York University, Carnegie Mellon University, SUNY Purchase, Wayne State University, Vassar College, Fordham University, The New School, The Black Arts Institute at Stella Adler School for Acting, and Ten Chimneys Foundation.
Dean Rashad holds the distinction of being the first recipient of the Denzel Washington Chair in Theatre at Fordham University and the inaugural holder of the Toni Morrison Endowed Chair in Arts and Humanities at Howard University.
In 2021, Dean Rashad returned to alma mater to lead the re-establishment of the College of Fine Arts as an independent college and to restore it to its rightful place as the center for arts and creativity at Howard University. The college was renamed in honor of world-renowned actor, playwright, director, cultural activist, and Howard alumnus, the late Chadwick A. Boseman.
During Dean Rashad’s tenure, contributions to Fine Arts programming at Howard have increased significantly, anchored by a $5.4 million gift from Netflix to establish The Chadwick A. Boseman Memorial Scholarship, which provides incoming theater students in the College of Fine Arts with a four-year scholarship to cover the full cost of University tuition. Other significant gifts have included contributions from the Capri Holdings Foundation for the Advancement of Diversity in Fashion to establish the Capri Holdings Fashion and Merchandising Scholars Fund; The Microsoft Corporation for programming and facility improvements; as well as a gift from The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, founded by actress Taraji P. Henson to enhance access to mental health services for students, faculty, and staff.
Through the Disney Storytellers Fund, the Walt Disney Company is providing $1.5 million over the next five years to support collaborations among students in the Cathy Hughes School of Communications and the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, focused on creative storytelling through a variety of media, including animation, digital design, gaming, journalism, live action, performing arts, product design, visual design, and virtual reality.
Dean Rashad has also bolstered our esteemed faculty with the appointment of nationally and internationally recognized scholars, artists, and creatives to serve as department chairs, mentors, teachers, and role models for our students.
We deeply appreciate Dean Rashad’s selfless contributions and commitment to our alma mater during her leadership of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts and the many contributions she has made to Howard University’s students, graduates, and global community.
We will begin a decanal search for a new dean shortly.
Join me in thanking and celebrating Dean Rashad for her many contributions to revitalize the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts and her commitment to our University, its students and our global Howard community.
Excellence in Truth and Service,
Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA
Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery