Dean Dempster Announces Return to Faculty

Dear UT community,

I am writing to let you know that Dean Doug Dempster is planning to conclude his tenure as dean of the College of Fine Arts and return to the faculty, effective May 31, 2021.

Dean Dempster first joined UT in 2001, and has since served in numerous leadership capacities in the college and across the university. During this time, he earned a reputation as a visionary leader, one who has sought out and created new partnerships across the campus and elevated the impact of the college. His scholarly contributions as a philosopher span specialties. He is widely published in philosophical aesthetics, music theory, cultural policy studies and the philosophy of language. Prior to UT, Dean Dempster served on the faculty at the University of Rochester for 18 years where he also served as associate director and academic dean at the Eastman School of Music. He has served in his current role as dean since 2007.

President Fenves shared this about Dean Dempster’s contributions to UT Austin.

“As the second longest-serving dean in the history of the College of Fine Arts, Doug Dempster has led COFA into a forward-looking era of artistic scholarship and creative expression while nurturing the timelessness of art and performance. He infused the college with an ambitious sense of possibility, sparking growth and innovation in curriculum, student services, art education, fundraising and many other critical areas. Having worked with Dean Dempster for eleven years of his deanship, I have seen the impact of his leadership, which will continue to benefit generations of musicians, dancers, actors, artists, scholars and creators at UT.”

His accomplishments and contributions are too numerous to list, but these are a few I would like to highlight.

  • Dean Dempster continuously demonstrated his unwavering commitment to student success. To make professional internships affordable for low-income students, he established a $3 million endowment of need-based scholarships. He launched the college’s first diversity recruitment campaign and created the college’s own recruitment and admissions office, which focused on recruiting and counseling diverse and talented undergraduates.
  • Under his leadership, Dean Dempster led efforts to establish Casa Herrera, the UT Austin Mesoamerican research and education center located in Antigua, Guatemala. He played a pivotal role as the College of Fine Arts partnered with Kendra Scott, the McCombs School of Business, and the School of Undergraduate Studies, to create the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurship Leadership Institute. Along with the McCombs School of Business and the Moody College of Communication, the college established UTNY, UT’s first residential undergraduate curriculum and internship program located in New York City. Additionally, the college collaborated with Moody to create a program for B.F.A. in Acting seniors to spend their final semester in Los Angeles as part of UTLA.
  • A tireless fundraiser, Dean Dempster raised some of UT’s largest gifts and endowments. In 2008, COFA received $55 million from Ernest and Sarah Butler to name the Butler School of Music, the largest single gift in the college’s history and — at that time — the largest single gift to a public university music school in the United States. The college’s endowment now stands at a current market value of $170 million with additional pledged gifts of $105 million. During his tenure over $206 million in cash gifts and endowments were committed to the college.
  • Dean Dempster worked tirelessly to recruit and retain a strong and innovative faculty body throughout the college. He led efforts to create the first departmental and college-level teaching and service awards, commissioned task force efforts focused on gender equity and non-tenure track faculty, and created 12 endowed professorships and chairs.

Dean Dempster is a community and national leader. I admire and deeply appreciate his commitment to our students, faculty, staff, and the university community.

Please join me in celebrating Dean Dempster’s accomplishments and thanking him for his tremendous service to the university.


Maurie McInnis

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