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April 06, 2022

Cleveland Institute of Art announces Greg Watts as its new chief academic officer

Greg Watts


April 6, 2022

CLEVELAND—Greg Watts, an accomplished artist and educator and skilled administrator, has been hired as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Watts most recently was at the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas, where he served as dean for six years and taught courses in art and business. One of the largest stand-alone colleges of its kind, CVAD includes departments of Art Education, Art History, Design and Studio Art.

Watts will begin his new role July 5, 2022.

“As Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, Greg will serve as CIA’s chief academic officer, responsible for ensuring the delivery of our rigorous curriculum to students and managing our extraordinary academic resources,” says President + CEO Grafton Nunes. “He will work closely with our incoming president, Kathryn Heidemann, in developing and delivering CIA’s visions for the future.”

Kathryn Heidemann will begin as president on July 1, following Nunes’ retirement. She started at CIA in 2019 as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, and she believes Watts—in that same role—will help CIA build on its successes.

“We are particularly impressed by Greg’s thoughtful and collaborative leadership style, proactive commitment to faculty and student success, and ability to take a forward-facing approach in navigating the paradigm shifts of higher education,” Heidemann says. “Greg’s vision aligns well with our mission of cultivating creative leaders who inspire people, strengthen communities and contribute to a thriving and sustainable economy through innovative art and design. We are confident he will have a great impact on both our CIA community and greater Cleveland.”

Watts was selected following a national search. He will lead about 100 ranked and adjunct faculty members and oversee CIA’s foundational studies, liberal arts, 13 art and design majors, the Jessica R. Gund Memorial Library, the Jane B. Nord Center for Teaching + Learning, Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, the Registrar and continuing education programs. In his leadership role, he will help CIA students seize the many opportunities their creativity provides.

“So much of the conversation, particularly in the business world these days, is about being creative. That word is thrown around very loosely, but it's up to us to harness that and use it to our advantage,” Watts says. “The arts in general—and art and design, in particular—have a seat at the top of the table in terms of being able to influence right now, and we should recognize that and use it.”

A sense of community is important to Watts. The connection among CIA students, faculty and staff, as well the College’s dedication to contributing to the Greater Cleveland community, stood out to him during the interview process.

“I’ve always been interested in what it means to not only be inward facing—in terms of the quality of students and the education they get—but also outward facing, where we have a social responsibility to the community we’re a part of,” he says. “In talking with people at CIA, it became really clear to me that was incredibly important. I think that's good work and work I can be a part of.”

During his tenure as dean at CVAD in Denton, Texas, Watts significantly increased—in number and diversity—faculty and staff while leading the college through strategic planning, including $80 million of construction and renovation projects that resulted in 264,000 square feet of world-class facilities.

Prior to CVAD, Watts was chair of the Art Department at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, where he also served as executive director for the Center for Visual Art, an off-campus community-based art center, and as president of the Council of Chairs.

“Greg brings significant leadership experience and is passionately dedicated to the future of art and design education,” Heidemann says. “From leading successful accreditation functions to growing academic programs and enrollment, and from cultivating strategic academic partnerships in the community to enacting diversity and inclusion within curricula and managerial processes, Greg has an exemplary track record.”

A full professor, Watts’ career accomplishments include a variety of academic positions and creative ventures. At Florida State University in Tallahassee, he taught in the School of Visual Arts and Dance and served as a program director for the Oglesby Union Art Center. He was co-director of the Nighthawks Gallery in Denver and worked as a film cameraman in Africa.

His artwork has been featured in numerous exhibitions, and he has worked as a consultant and legal expert in the fields of photography and photographic evaluation. Watts serves the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) as a member of the Executive Committee and Chair of the Commission on Accreditation.

“I am very impressed with Greg's experience running the Commission of NASAD, evaluating the self-studies and visitor reports of art and design schools applying for accreditation across the nation,” Nunes says. “I have been most impressed with his clarity of purpose, commitment to the highest principles of practice and his personal charm. His stature as incoming NASAD president in turn enhances the reputation of CIA.”

Watts is a native of Cambridge, England. He earned an Executive MBA from the University of Denver; an MFA in fine art–photography from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla.; and a bachelor’s degree with honors in fine art–printmaking from Kingston University, London. He also completed the Management Development Program, and Institute for Management and Leadership in Education, MLE, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

Cleveland Institute of Art
Michael C. Butz, Director of College Communications + External Relations / 216.421.7404

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