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Gerry Snyder, dean of the School of Art at the Pratt Institute, has been named executive director of the University of Arkansas’ School of Art, beginning July 1.

Snyder will also hold the position of Distinguished Professor of art and serve as special advisor to the chancellor for arts integration.

“We are excited to have Gerry join our team to lead the School of Art,” said Todd Shields, dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. “He is exceptionally qualified for this position, as an internationally recognized artist with experience building facilities and programs from the ground up at top art institutes. He has the vision to build our school and infuse art into multiple disciplines and curricula across campus and into the community.”

Snyder is an accomplished and internationally recognized artist who has more than 30 years of experience in higher education. In addition to his role as dean of the School of Art at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, Snyder has also served as chief academic officer, vice president of academic affairs and professor of art at Santa Fe University of Art and Design and taught at the College of Santa Fe, the Pacific Northwest College of Art, and New York University.

Additionally, his artwork is part of the public collections at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the de Young Museum of San Francisco, New Mexico Museum of Art, Pancevo Center of Contemporary Art in Serbia and at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

“I look forward to joining the University of Arkansas this summer and working with the talented team of faculty and Chancellor Steinmetz to build this new School of Art and infuse art into curricula that touches all areas of campus,” Snyder said. “This is truly a unique opportunity and I’m honored to be a part of it as we continue to weave the arts into the fabric of the Northwest Arkansas region, beginning with the growth of the school and the new Windgate Arts and Design District.”

What I know about NW Arkansas is that it is a destination for education, culture and the outdoors. A nephew who is a mountain biker said it was one of the best places to ride in the US. Crystal Bridges, of course, has become a major destination for anyone with an interest in experiencing one of the best collections of American Art. I am proud to have work in their collection. What they are doing is amazing and the new Momentary is going to be a game changer for the region and for the arts nationally. I am thrilled to join such a thriving community.

Gerry SnyderExecutive Director, U of A School of Art

Snyder will be the first executive director of the U of A’s School of Art, which is the first and only accredited collegiate school of art in the state of Arkansas. The school was established in fall 2017 with a $120 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. The school also received $40 million from the Windgate Charitable Foundation that fall to create the Windgate Art and Design District to house new art and graphic design classrooms, labs, studios and a public gallery space in the heart of south Fayetteville.  

Snyder will work with faculty to create a strategic plan for the continued growth and development of the School of Art with the goal of growing art education, art history, graphic design and studio art opportunities in the state while also providing unparalleled access and opportunity to students through multidisciplinary programs and art integration initiatives.

“By having a leading artist-educator like Gerry Snyder join the university, we will be able to infuse the arts across campus and focus on the integration of the arts and humanities with science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine,” said Joe Steinmetz, chancellor of the U of A. “His role will serve not only the School of Art, but the entire campus and beyond.”

Steinmetz said arts integration has numerous positive outcomes for students, such as increased critical thinking abilities, higher-order thinking and deeper learning, content mastery, problem solving, teamwork and communication skill development, improved visuospatial reasoning, and general engagement and enjoyment of learning.

“Infusing art in multiple disciplines across campus will help develop the kinds of essential skills and critical thinking employers value most,” Steinmetz  said.

About Gerry Snyder

Snyder is an accomplished artist and has served as an arts administrator and professor of art in higher education for more than 30 years. He was appointed as the inaugural dean of the Pratt Institute’s new School of Art in 2014, overseeing eight departments, 36 programs, 1,400 students, and more than 350 faculty and staff. Under Snyder’s leadership, the school is in the design phase for a new 88,000-square-foot building that includes large gallery spaces that would be the public face of Pratt to the community.

As dean, Snyder spearheaded numerous faculty development initiatives such as an annual visiting artist residency at the American Academy in Rome, providing grants to support research and studio practice, funding travel requests for conferences, exhibitions and research, and facilitating residencies. He also oversaw the redesign of all of the school’s B.F.A. programs, guided the school through a successful National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) reaccreditation, and led a schoolwide assessment to ensure compliance with regional and national accreditation agencies. He was also the curator of Pratt’s Sculpture Park, which has more than 70 pieces and recently added large works by Mark di Suvero and Santiago Calatrava.

As an artist, Snyder’s career has garnered respect and acclaim by curators, critics and experts within his field. His interest in a wide range of trends and contemporary methods of production is seen through his paintings, drawings, photographs and videos. In 2002, Snyder was selected to participate in the Whitney Biennial at Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, where his work is now part of their public collections. His work has been featured in exhibitions and publications in the United States and around the world.