Watkins Welcomes Dr. Joseph Kline as President on July 15

June 16, 2015

The Board of Trustees of Watkins College of Art, Design & Film has announced the appointment of Joseph (“J.”) Kline to the position of president, effective July 15, 2015.

Currently Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) in Portales, Dr. Kline brings nearly 20 years of higher education administrative experience to his new role at Watkins, with expertise in student recruitment, interdisciplinary programming, curriculum assessment, fundraising and strategic partnerships. He holds a Ph.D. in Fine Arts and his career has also included distinguished work as a teacher, writer and performing artist.

In making the announcement, board chair Samuel E. Stumpf, Jr. said, “J. brings a wealth of arts education experience to Watkins. We believe that he is uniquely qualified to build upon Watkins’ many past accomplishments and to lead Watkins to an even stronger future.”

Dr. Kline becomes the 16th president in Watkins’ 130-year history, succeeding Ellen L. Meyer, who is retiring after seven years in office.

“I am honored to be joining Watkins at this point in its most distinguished history,” said Dr. Kline. “The college is a cultural and social institution of Nashville and has grown to become a regional leader in arts education. From its dynamic and engaged board of trustees, to its acclaimed faculty and staff, to, most importantly, a student body of great accomplishment and enormous potential, there is not one element of the institution that is anything but of the highest caliber. I am  impressed in every way and fully committed to lead the college to even greater levels of achievement.”

Prior to ENMU, 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. He also served as Chair of the Departments of Production Design and of Dramatic Writing. 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 at DeSales, he was a member of Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s artistic staff.

Dr. Kline will assume leadership as Watkins bolsters its position as one of the nation’s leading colleges of art and design through increasing recognition of work by its accomplished students, alumni and faculty. In addition to expanded BFA degree programs in Film, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Interior Design and Photography, a BA program in Art, and Certificate programs in Film and Interior Design, recent Watkins milestones include reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the opening of a downtown exhibition space, WAG (Watkins Arcade Gallery), and increased Community Education and Pre-College Program enrollment.

The presidential appointment follows a five-month national search conducted by a committee of Watkins trustees, staff and faculty representatives, chaired by board member Larry Papel.

“J.’s demonstrated leadership skills, understanding of the Watkins mission and curriculum, and past success in administration and the classroom distinguished him as the leading candidate among dozens of applications,” said Mr. Papel. “The committee is confident that Jay’s presidency will not only enhance Watkins but greatly benefit the Nashville community as well.”

Dr. Kline holds a Bachelor of Arts from Colorado State University, a Master of Fine Arts from the Catholic University of America, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Fine Arts from Texas Tech University.