Carnegie Mellon University has announced that artist and educator Charlie White will be the new head of its School of Art. A former professor at the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design, White has worked in academia for thirteen years. He had also served as director of the Roski School’s master of fine arts program for four years, from 2007 through 2011. In May 2015, the school found itself in the middle of a controversy when the entire MFA class dropped out, citing “the university’s unethical treatment of students” as one of the many reasons. The students—who would have graduated this year—said that the faculty, curriculum, program, and funding packages which drew them to the institution were dismantled after the students had enrolled.
The students also criticized the administration, claiming that it drove Roski’s then-program director, A.L. Steiner, to step down in December 2014, which was followed by other high profile resignations including tenured professors Frances Stark and Sharon Lockhart, as well as graduate coordinator Dwayne Moser. In a roundtable hosted by Artforum and published in the October 2015 print issue, Steiner, Stark, and White discussed what the students’ decision to leave en masse meant for the school, among other topics.
An internationally exhibited photographer and filmmaker, White has had solo shows at LACMA, the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Connecticut, Domus Artium in Spain, and Oslo Kunstforening in Norway. He has participated in numerous group shows including the 2011 Singapore Biennial, the Hammer Museum’s “Nine Lives: Visionary Artists from LA,” and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s “Art in America Now.” In 2009, White’s film American Minor, 2008, screened at the Sundance Film Festival and in the Director’s Fortnight section at the Cannes Film Festival.
“Charlie brings to the School of Art a demonstrated commitment to fostering creative expression and experimentation across all genres of art,” dean of Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts Dan Martin said. “He is a firm believer in art as a crucial part of our lives and culture, and while at the University of Southern California he furthered that belief through the development of new platforms for growth, change and diversity.” White will succeed John Carson who will continue to work at the college as a professor.