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Sharon L. Vasquez, the current dean of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University, has been named the new provost at the University of Hartford. The announcement was made by University of Hartford President Walter Harrison, who said Vasquez will begin her new duties as the University’s chief academic officer on August 15.


Vasquez has had an outstanding career as an artist, educator and academic leader. Born and raised in St. Louis, Mo., she decided as a young woman to pursue a professional career in dance. She made a deal with her parents that she would attend two years of college first, so she enrolled in Butler University’s widely acclaimed dance program. After fulfilling her commitment to her parents, she set off to pursue a professional career as a dancer and choreographer. After a successful professional career, she returned to school to pursue a career as a dance educator, and earned a BFA and an MFA in dance from Florida State University.


She also earned a CMA (advanced certification in movement analysis) from the Laban Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in New York. Her continuing education also includes the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education at Harvard University and the Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration at Bryn Mawr College.


At Wayne State University, located in Detroit, Mich., Vasquez directs a college almost identical in size to the College of Arts and Sciences, which is the University of Hartford’s largest college. Wayne State University is a nationally recognized urban research university and one of only a few public urban universities holding both the Carnegie Foundation’s “Very High Research Activity” and “Community Engagement” designations. As dean, she oversees the academic departments of art and art history, communication, dance, music and theatre while also having responsibility for the University Art Collection.


In her time at Wayne State University (2004-present), Vasquez is widely acknowledged for successfully expanding development and alumni efforts, helping the school surpass its $22.3M goal for the Wayne First campaign; launching the Ovation Awards, which recognize distinguished alumni; expanding community relations through numerous partnerships and cooperative efforts; enhancing a culture of scholarship and creative research in the college; and increasing the visibility of the college both locally and nationally. Most recently she began facilitating a new partnership called the Creative Film Alliance, a multicampus effort designed to support creation of an indigenous film community in Michigan.


Vasquez’s previous academic appointments include serving as dean of the School of Arts and Performance at the State University of New York at Brockport (2000-04) and as chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin (1992-99), where she held an endowed professorship.


Vasquez’s career move into higher education administration generated her current interests in the role of women in leadership, a topic she has explored in workshops for women executives. She is also committed to the exploration of entrepreneurship within the curriculum, which led to the launch of an incubator for creative sector-based businesses at Tech Town, Wayne State University’s high-tech research park.


Always a strong advocate and spokesperson for the nonprofit sector, Vasquez has served on numerous nonprofit boards, state arts councils, peer review panels and K-12 task forces. She is in high demand as a consultant for academic program development and was recently asked to serve as an accreditation specialist for the Hong Kong Council on Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Programs.


Vasquez is president-elect of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans (ICFAD) and the past chair of the Commission on Accreditation for the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD). She served previously as president of the Council of Dance Administrators (CODA) and has also been active in ACE Michigan’s State Network for Women. She serves on the board of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and has previously served on the boards of Rochester’s Geva Theatre Center and the Arts Council of Greater Rochester.


Vasquez succeeds Lynn Pasquerella, who leaves the University of Hartford on June 30 to become president of her alma mater, Mount Holyoke College. H. Frederick Sweitzer, assistant provost and dean of faculty development, will serve as the University’s interim provost between July 1 and August 14.

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