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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Howard University Fine Arts Dean Phylicia Rashad Announces Her Retirement


Phylicia Rashad, dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at historically Black Howard University, has announced her retirement effective after this academic year.

Rashad, a Howard University alumna, has an over four decades-long career in the entertainment industry. She is best known for her role as Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show. In 2004, she became the first Black woman to win the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her role in A Raisin in the Sun. She has also been nominated for and won multiple NAACP Image Awards, among other accolades.

“Dean Rashad has held a longstanding commitment to arts education and literacy; having served as adjunct faculty, master instructor, and guest artist/lecturer and administrator at several colleges,” Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick wrote in a statement.

“She returned to her alma mater to lead the re-establishment of the College of Fine Arts as an independent college and to restore it to its rightful place as the center for arts and creativity at Howard University.”


In 2021, Rashad became dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts and oversaw the college’s renaming in honor of the late actor, Chadwick Boseman. She currently holds the title of Toni Morrison Endowed Chair in the Arts and Humanities. Before her tenure with Howard University, Rashad was named the first recipient of the Denzel Washington Chair in Theatre at Fordham University in New York.

Throughout Rashad’s administration, contributions to fine arts programming at Howard University increased significantly. Donations include Netflix’s $5.4 million gift to establish The Chadwick A. Boseman Memorial Scholarship, which provides incoming theater students with a four-year scholarship to cover the full price of tuition.

In October 2020, Rashad shared a throwback photo of herself that was taken during Howard University‘s Class of 1970 commencement ceremony. “I had just graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and I knew that the world was before me,” she wrote in the caption.

“Looking back at this moment I would say to myself, ‘Take a good look at this campus. It is more than brick and mortar. Yes, you are at the threshold of a new “beginning.” Take this living vibration of legacy forward with you.’”

Other notable Howard fine arts alumni include Taraji P. Henson, Jessye Norman Alma Thomas, and Roberta Flack.

She has held teaching appointments at many institutions across the country including New York University, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, The Black Arts Institute of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York, and the Ten Chimneys Foundation.

Rashad is a magna cum laude graduate of Howard University where she received a bachelor of fine arts degree. She has received honorary doctorates from Brown University, historically Black Spelman College in Atlanta, and the University of South Carolina.



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