Wednesday, I reported that Cornish has a new president: Nancy Uscher, a classical violist and currently provost at CalArts, who'll take over August 1. Yesterday, we had a quick introductory phone interview.

Quick introductory phone interviews aren't good for much besides getting a rudimentary sense for who a person is, so all I can say is that Uscher seems outgoing, idealistic, talkative, accessible, and excited to get to work. She's just finished reading Nellie Cornish's autobiography and sees herself as a "servant-leader."

"People kind of roll their eyes at me because I'm a very excited person and they don't think it's real," she said. "But honestly, this is the way I respond to the world. ...When I talked in my interview about being a servant-leader, maybe some eyes rolled. And I came away thinking, maybe they didn't like it. But I guess I just think we are who we are and we should own it. I just want to be the person Cornish needs to soar, to help it move into the future in a glorious way, and maybe even a controversial way—I'm not trying to be a Pollyanna. I want there to be a tremendous buzz about Cornish."

Uscher was undefensive in her response to criticisms of Cornish. "That's really interesting information for me," she said. "I'm not an arrogant person, and I think it would be arrogant of me to say how I think things might improve. I have some ideas. Who knows where Cornish could be in 5 or 10 years? That's what I'm thinking about. Which is not a criticism. It is what it is, you know—unconditional love. But who knows where it could be in 5 or 10 years?"

Uscher's career as a violist is distinguished by travel: She has studied and played in Jerusalem, all over Europe, in Cuba, and in Asia.

Cornish currently has an interim chair of the art department (Bonnie Biggs) and will be searching next year for a new chair. I didn't get to ask Uscher what kind of person she wanted for the job, but she said she'll be looking for input in helping to shape the future direction of the department, which has cycled through a handful of chairs in recent years.