By Amaka Watson
Prominent actress, producer, and Houston native Phylicia Rashad announced her decision to step down from her role as dean of the Chadwick Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University after the 2023-2024 academic year.
Reports indicate that Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick conveyed this news to the university’s students and faculty through an email. The message expressed gratitude for Rashad’s significant contributions to the institution.
Frederick’s email reportedly included the sentiment, “We deeply appreciate Dean Rashad’s selfless contributions and commitment to our alma mater during her leadership of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts and the many contributions she has made to Howard University’s students, graduates, and global community.”
Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University, further underscored Rashad’s extensive dedication to arts education and literacy. Throughout her career, Rashad has not only held her position as dean but also served as adjunct faculty, master instructor, guest artist/lecturer, and administrator across several educational institutions.
Rashad, a distinguished Tony Award-winning actress, holds the distinction of being the inaugural recipient of the Denzel Washington Chair in Theatre at Fordham University. Additionally, she is the esteemed holder of the Toni Morrison Endowed Chair in Arts and Humanities at Howard University.
In 2021, Rashad returned to her alma mater, Howard University, to assume the role of dean for the College of Fine Arts. Her transformative leadership aimed to restore the college’s status as a hub of artistic excellence and innovation.
During Rashad’s tenure, contributions to the college’s fine arts programming witnessed remarkable growth. Notably, Netflix’s generous donation of $5.4 million established The Chadwick A. Boseman Memorial Scholarship, granting incoming theater students a comprehensive four-year scholarship covering their tuition expenses.
“Dean Rashad has also bolstered our esteemed faculty with the appointment of nationally and internationally recognized scholars, artists, and creatives to serve as department chairs, mentors, teachers, and role models for our students,” Frederick said in the statement, announcing that the school will begin a search for a new dean soon.
Rashad’s deep connection with Howard University dates back to her own graduation in 1970 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Her illustrious career as an actress and director followed.
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Her appointment as dean in 2021 marked a significant achievement, particularly as the college was renamed in honor of the late Chadwick Boseman, the renowned actor, and Howard alumnus. Boseman’s passing at the age of 43 following a private battle with colon cancer was a loss felt deeply by many.
Rashad had been one of his professors during his time at Howard University, where he graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing.