President, Watkins College of Art, Design & Film


In becoming the 16th president in Watkins’ century-plus history, Joseph (J.) Kline, Ph.D., brings two decades of higher education administrative experience to the position, with expertise in student recruitment, interdisciplinary programming, fundraising and strategic partnerships. His career is noted for expertise in a variety of arts disciplines and includes distinguished work as a teacher, writer and performing artist.

Watkins J. Kline PhD president lakeside 8.2015 Wweb

President J. Kline

Dr. Kline came to Watkins from Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU), where was Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Professor of Theatre (2009-2015). In that role he guided the major programs in art, theatre, music, music education, digital filmmaking and communication, responsible for curriculum and assessment, budgets, artist activities, recruiting, galleries and capital projects. Among his accomplishments were oversight of a $7.5 million renovation of the art building (fine art, film and graphic design) and a $9 million renovation of the music building. He served on ENMU technology, strategic planning and reaccreditation committees and was host of a weekly show on the university’s NPR-affiliated radio station.

From 2005-2009, Dr. Kline was Professor and Chair, Performing Arts Department, and Producing Artistic Director, School of Performing Arts, at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where he had oversight of curriculum, faculty and staff, budgets and artistic performance of the school of performing arts. He also served as Chair of the Departments of Production Design and of Dramatic Writing (the latter major was developed and launched under his guidance).

Highlights of his SCAD tenure were major program revisions to Performing Arts and Production Design (both BFA and MFA) and substantial increase in student recruitment and production activities (mainstage, studio, lab, singing ensembles). He also established a partnership with the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre as a component of performing arts graduate studies, for which he devised the curriculum.

Previously, he was Associate Professor and Chair, Performing and Fine Arts Department, at DeSales University (Center Valley, PA), with executive supervision of majors in TV/Film, theatre and dance and oversight of the university’s fine art and music offerings. While serving as chair, student enrollment in the department increased by more than 100%, making performing and fine arts the largest department in the university.

He was on the artistic staff, as associate/line producer and actor and director, at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, the official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

An effective classroom and studio educator, Dr. Kline’s teaching experience includes acting, directing, arts management, production, theatre history, dramatic literature, criticism, dramaturgy, playwriting and aesthetics.

A member of the Dramatists Guild, Actors’ Equity Association, and SAG-AFTRA, Dr. Kline has directed and/or performed at Pennsylvania Shakespeare, Barter Theatre, Maryland Shakespeare Festival, Folger Theatre, Denver Center Theatre Company, as well as appearing in feature films, network TV series and national commercials. A playwright with more than 10 premier productions to his credit, including original plays, adaptations and dance and multi-media works, he served as playwright-in-residence at the Barter Theatre (the State Theatre of Virginia, in Abingdon).

Dr. Kline holds a Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts (theatre) from Colorado State University, a Master of Fine Arts in Drama (acting) from the Catholic University of America, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Fine Arts (playwriting/arts management) from Texas Tech University.