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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University August 7, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 41
Leadership Named for Arts Effort

Winston Tabb

Winston Tabb, Eileen Soskin are tapped to coordinate new initiative

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Two years ago, Johns Hopkins set forth to put the arts front and center on the Homewood campus. Every vision needs its visionaries, and now two have been put in place.

The university recently announced two senior-level appointments to help steer the growth of the arts at Homewood and for the greater Johns Hopkins community. Winston Tabb, Sheridan Dean of University Libraries, has been named vice provost for the arts, effective July 1. Tabb, who will retain his primary post, will serve an initial two-year term. Eileen Soskin, associate dean for academic affairs for the Peabody Conservatory, has been tapped as associate vice provost for the arts, also effective July 1. She will serve an 18-month term and, like Tabb, keep her primary position.

In his new role, Tabb will oversee implementation of the recommendations of the Homewood Arts Task Force, which he chaired, and will convene an Arts Coordinating Council to explore interest in extending the work of the task force across the university.

Tabb has also been charged with developing a comprehensive strategy for securing funds to support arts initiatives and to build mutually beneficial relationships with appropriate arts organizations in the greater Baltimore community.

Eileen Soskin

"We want to get undergraduates involved with such organizations as Center Stage and the Baltimore Symphony and for students in general to be able to take better advantage of the culture the area has to offer," Tabb said. "I view my new role in many ways as a convener — to get people together to talk and help Johns Hopkins realize this

vision that the arts need to be central to the life of such a great institution as ours."

Tabb said that he plans to meet in the early fall with student groups and other interested parties to foster collaboration and help determine the makeup of the Arts Coordinating Council.

Soskin will support Tabb's efforts and also focus on more internal matters, such as working with students, faculty and staff to enhance the visibility of existing arts-related programs and activities. "I also want to help develop new and exciting opportunities for Homewood students to explore the arts on and off campus," said Soskin, who also served on the task force. "I'm thrilled to be given this position and to work again with Winston, who is both a treat and an education."

The creation of a senior administrative position to promote and coordinate the arts was one of 10 major recommendations of the Homewood Arts Task Force, which was formed in September 2004. Its 47-page final report, issued in May 2005, articulated a vision to raise the visibility for the arts at Johns Hopkins and to make them more coherent and central to the intellectual and social life of the Homewood campus.

Tabb said that much work has already begun.

In the area of academics, this fall the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences will introduce its Museums and Society Program, an interdisciplinary minor for Homewood undergraduates. In addition to curricular and scholarly activities within the university, the program aims to promote meaningful connections with local and regional museums.

Another academics-related recommendation was the synchronization of class schedules at Peabody and the Homewood schools to better serve students enrolled in joint programs. In part to that end, the Homewood deans recently announced that, beginning in spring semester 2008, the majority of courses offered at the Krieger School and the Whiting School of Engineering will be held in the more standard weekly format followed by Peabody and most other institutions of higher education.

Tabb said that the university also has begun the development and implementation of an institutionswide management policy for its artifactual collections. A database, which has already been purchased, will electronically archive the collections so that both Hopkins affiliates and visitors can see what JHU owns and where the various pieces are located.

While much arts-related work is under way, Tabb said there is still a great deal to get accomplished.

In particular, he pointed to the need for renovations to existing arts-related facilities, the development of a comprehensive arts Web site and the creation of more opportunities for Homewood undergraduates to study the arts.

Tabb also plans to explore further academic partnerships with local art institutions such as the Baltimore Museum of Art, Walters Art Museum and Maryland Institute College of Art.

In terms of facilities, specific plans include more detailed investigation of the task force's recommendations to renovate Shriver Hall's auditorium and related performance spaces, such as the green rooms; convert the Arellano Theater in Levering Hall to a true performing arts space; and conduct a study to determine the need and feasibility of building a new dedicated performing arts facility with one or more performance venues.

Also under consideration is a task force recommendation for the development of a funding strategy for arts-related programs and projects, including an Arts Innovation Fund to support creative programming.

Soskin said that part of her charge is to communicate the current vitality of the arts at Homewood, which boasts an array of programs and facilities that includes the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, Theatre Hopkins, the Shriver Hall Concert Series, Homewood House Museum and numerous student organizations, ranging from theater troupes to a cappella groups. Artistic activities can be found at other Johns Hopkins campuses, too, Soskin added, not just at Homewood and Peabody.

"There is tons going on, but nobody knows what anyone else is doing. We need to do a better job of getting the word out," Soskin said. "We also can and must do more in terms of the arts, and that is where Winston and I will come in. These new positions are all about central encouragement of an arts environment, with many of the pieces already in place."

The Homewood Arts Task Force was created by Provost Steven Knapp and charged with producing a set of recommendations designed to enhance the visibility and impact of the university's existing arts programs, foster a sense of community around the arts and develop synergies between JHU and Baltimore City cultural organizations. The task force was focused on, but not limited to, Homewood arts programs and facilities. Offerings at Evergreen House and joint ventures with the Peabody Institute were also considered. The 18-member group included staff, faculty, students, a trustee and a community member.

The Homewood Arts Task Force final report can be found online at


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