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Vanderbilt's Steven Tepper named dean of Herberger Institute

Steven J. Tepper
December 22, 2013

Steven J. Tepper, associate director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy and associate professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University, has been named dean of Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, effective July 1, 2014.

Tepper is one of the nation’s founding thought leaders on the creative campus movement, which places creativity at the center of campus and academic life. He also is the nation’s leading authority on the lives and careers of arts graduates.

“Professor Tepper is a renowned expert on U.S. cultural policy and his work has fostered national discussions around topics of cultural engagement and the transformative possibilities of a truly creative campus,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “He is visionary and entrepreneurial, and is perfectly suited to help the Herberger Institute become the model of the 21st century arts school.”

Tepper’s research and teaching focuses on creativity in education and work, conflict over art and culture, and cultural participation. He is author of "Not Here, Not Now, Not That! Protest Over Art and Culture in America" and co-editor and contributing author of the book "Engaging Art: The Next Great Transformation of America’s Cultural Life." His writings on creativity and higher education have appeared in numerous national publications, including the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Huffington Post and Fast Company.

Tepper also is the research director of SNAAP, the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, which has surveyed more than 100,000 graduates of arts training institutions about their education and careers.

“Professor Tepper is a celebrated scholar who has made a major impact on his field and is devoted to showing the world that engagement in the arts can help students develop the creative capacity to succeed in the arts and in any career,” said ASU Provost Robert Page. “I am confident he will help take the Herberger Institute and its outstanding faculty to the next level.”

It was the faculty, said Tepper, which was one of the major things that drew him to ASU, as well as the ability to put into practice the ideas he has been advancing.

“The Herberger Institute is the largest comprehensive design and arts school in the country with a tremendous breadth of programs and a deep well of talent among its faculty,” said Tepper. “It is part of an institution eager to reinvent how we define higher education. The Herberger Institute provides an opportunity to reimagine what a 21st century arts school can be; enterprising, connected across disciplines, within communities and deployed to comment on and help solve the nation’s most important problems.

"I want Herberger to be one of the first places people look, both for inspiration, as well as insight around important artistic, social, economic and policy challenges.”

According to Tepper, his goal is to help build the best arts school in the country for students interested in developing expertise in their craft, as well as for students from all majors seeking creativity in their lives.  

“When I arrive on campus, I want to discover and celebrate the amazing work that is happening,” he said. “I plan to have a very open conversation with faculty, staff and students about their ideas for advancing the institution. Transitions are a great time to build a positive energy and begin to imagine what we want to do, to think about what makes our work rewarding and how we can share that more passionately with our students and the community.”

Prior to his position at Vanderbilt, Tepper served as deputy director of the Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master's in public policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a doctorate in sociology from Princeton University.