The University Record, October 4, 1999

Rogers recommended as dean of School of Art and Design

By Jane R. Elgass

Bryan Rogers, currently head of the School of Art and professor of art in the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University, has been recommended by Provost Nancy Cantor and President Lee C. Bollinger for appointment as dean of the School of Art and Design, effective during winter term. Rogers also will be professor of art with tenure.

A sculptor and installation artist with numerous international showings to his credit, Rogers also is founding director of the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon. The STUDIO is an interdisciplinary center in the five-school College of Fine Arts—art, architecture, design, drama and music—that emphasizes experimental, highly interdisciplinary projects connecting the College to the University and to local and global communities.

As head of the Carnegie Mellon’s School of Art since 1988, Rogers led the design and institution of a new four-year undergraduate B.F.A. program and a new three-year M.F.A. program. He also led the effort to develop a new interdisciplinary undergraduate bachelor of arts and sciences program, in which students concentrate in both one of the sciences and one of the arts. Rogers established an endowed lecture series in which more than 200 visiting lecturers have participated, and led a long and successful campaign to build a new art gallery on campus that will open in the coming months.

Rogers’ current work focuses on the interactions between art, science and technology, which is often manifest in computer-controlled installations of kinetic objects. For many years he has been working on a project titled ODYSSSETRON—A Cybernautical Metamodel. This four-phase project is designed to culminate in a robotic circumnavigation of the earth.

“Professor Rogers’ creative work, his demonstrated leadership in instituting new programs and curricula, and the remarkable breadth of his interests position him to guide the School of Art and Design as it connects to a wide variety of creative and scholarly pursuits within and beyond our campus,” said Cantor last week in announcing the appointment.

“This should be a new era for the School of Art and Design, and Bryan Rogers is the perfect leader,” Bollinger said.

The opportunity to work together with the faculty and staff of the School of Art and Design, almost all of whom he has met, is what eventually attracted Rogers to his new post. “Initially, the pull was non-specific,” he said, “probably related to the powerful external mystique of the University and the Ann Arbor community. After a couple of visits, I began to feel the sense of human commitment to the University by the School of Art and Design’s faculty and staff. Following the visits, I found myself thinking of wonderful possibilities.”

Rogers said the School has many strengths, some yet untapped. “The obvious and essential strengths are the excellence and commitment of the faculty and staff and the high caliber of the students.

“Importantly to me,” he explained, “the School supports a broad spectrum of tendencies in art and design, from traditional to experimental. Moreover, it benefits from an extraordinary awareness by the faculty of the wide range of complex issues confronting their work as practitioners, teachers and citizens.

“It is also clear to me,” Rogers added, “that a critical, and in my experience unusual, strength for the School is a university poised at the highest levels to further embrace the creative arts with the kind of understanding and support required to support a national, even international, model for nourishing the creative enterprise.”

In the coming months and years, Rogers said, “the School faces the task of care-taking of its home territory—in this case the territory of artists and designers. It also faces the task of seeking resonance between the home territory and the larger comprehensive context. The challenge,” he explained, “is to keep the care-taking from becoming too precious and simultaneously to seek the contextually-driven adjustments from its essential values. In facing this challenge,” he added, “my future colleagues and I in the School of Art and Design will have to keep one eye on home, one on the context and the other on the space in between the two.”

Rogers holds a B.E. from Yale University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, all in chemical engineering. He also holds an M.A. in art (sculpture) from Berkeley, and did post-graduate study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.

He was editor of Leonardo in 1982-85, and his essays and reviews of his work have been published in Leonardo, Art/Cognition, Sculpture, The Japan Times, Artforum, The Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has received fellowships and grants from the Deutscher Academischer Austausdienst (DAAD), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Science Foundation, and quite recently from NASA and Microsoft Corp.

Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon, Rogers was professor of art and coordinator/founder of the Conceptual Design Program at San Francisco State University. He has lectured in France and Japan and served as an external consultant for art programs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Oberlin College and Stanford University.