It's been a busy news day, otherwise I'd have gotten this up sooner, but Cornish College of the Arts announced today that it has named a new president, Nancy Uscher. She comes from the classical music world (she's a violist trained at the Eastman School, Juilliard, and NYU, and was first violist for six years in the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra), with an extensive background in academia, currently as provost at CalArts.

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Uscher, who replaces Sergei P. Tschernisch (who has been in the job 17 years), will be the first woman president at Cornish since its founding by Nellie Cornish in 1914.

She'll start in August. The full press release is on the jump, and I'm working on a phone interview.


SEATTLE, Wash — The next president of Cornish College of the Arts will be Dr. Nancy Uscher, provost of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and a classically trained violist, John Gordon Hill, chair of the Cornish Board of Trustees, announced today.

“Dr. Uscher’s long experience as an educator and administrator at a major performing and visual arts college, coupled with her own professional history as a performing artist, make her uniquely qualified to take the helm of a dynamic institution like Cornish,” said Hill. “She was recognized in the search process as being especially in tune with the culture and ethos of Cornish, and was unanimously confirmed by the Board of Trustees.”

Dr. Uscher will assume her new position in August 2011 after spending six months as CalArts’ co-acting president. She will become Cornish’s first woman president since Nellie C. Cornish, who founded the school in 1914. Dr. Uscher will succeed Sergei P. Tschernisch, who retires in May 2011 after leading the visual and performing arts college for 17 years.

The Presidential Search Committee, comprised of board members, faculty, staff and student representatives, was led by Trustee Roger J. Bass. In presenting the committee’s recommendation to the Board of Trustees, he said, “The Search Committee believes that Nancy Uscher is fully prepared to be a college president and is ready for the challenge. We feel that she will be a good match to help Cornish College of the Arts meet its current needs — internally and externally - and will help to position Cornish for a bright future.”

Dr. Uscher said she looked forward to assuming her new position. "I am thrilled to have been chosen to lead Cornish College of the Arts, an outstanding and vital institution, into a future filled with exciting ideas, goals and aspirations. I very much look forward to working with the entire Cornish community as we navigate the wonderful years ahead."

Cornish’s next president will join a transformed institution, which has experienced record enrollment for the 2010-11 academic year. More than 800 students drawn from 37 states and 14 foreign countries are enrolled in dance, theater, art, design, performance production, and music degree programs. Since 2002, the majority of programs have been relocated from Capitol Hill to the expanded campus in Denny Triangle/South Lake Union area in downtown Seattle. In 2009, student housing was established for the first time. The College continues to raise funds to implement remaining projects in the comprehensive Master Campus and Strategic Plan, including the future move of the Dance and Music Departments from historic Kerry Hall on Capitol Hill to the main campus.

Since 2004, Dr. Uscher has been the Chief Academic Officer of CalArts, an internationally acclaimed arts school located in the Los Angeles area, as well as a faculty member of the Herb Alpert School of Music. In keeping with CalArts tradition, she often performs in concerts with students and other faculty members. Before that, Dr. Uscher spent 12 years at the University of New Mexico in a variety of positions, including Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, Chairperson of the Music Department and Professor of Music. She also taught such courses in the Women Studies Program as “Women and Solitude” and “Women and the Expression of Identity in Literature and the Arts.” Dr. Uscher also created the Center for the Arts in Society as a think tank to explore arts-related public policy issues and find new ways to share the arts with society.

Dr. Uscher earned her Ph.D. in music at New York University, where her dissertation was entitled, ”Performance Problems In Selected 20th Century Music For Viola.” She also holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, a master’s degree in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and is an Associate of the Royal College of Music in London, where she spent her junior year in college.

Dr. Uscher spent two decades as a concert violist performing and teaching around the world, including six years leading the viola section of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, before transitioning full-time into academe. She is the author of dozens of articles, mainly for music publications, and two books: Your Own Way in Music: A Career and Resource Guide and The Schirmer Guide to Schools of Music and Conservatories Throughout the World.

About Cornish College of the Arts
Cornish College of the Arts is nationally recognized as a premier college of the visual and performing arts, offering Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in dance, theater, art, design and performance production, and a Bachelor of Music degree. A pioneer in arts education, Cornish College of the Arts sprang from the remarkable vision of Nellie Cornish, a woman determined to cultivate the arts in Seattle when it was scarcely more than a frontier town. Her philosophy of educating the artist through exposure to all the arts continues to be an innovative feature of Cornish education to this day.