FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) Chancellor Michael Wartell has accepted with reluctance the resignation of Charles “Chuck” O’Connor as dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), effective June 30, 2012. O’Connor has accepted the position as dean of the Hixson–Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL), effective July 1, 2012. O’Connor will be returning to a familiar place, as he taught theatre arts at UNL from 1993 to 2003. “My time at IPFW has been truly extraordinary and I am thankful to have had the chance to serve this special university. I am very proud of the accomplishments of the students, staff, and faculty over the past four years. Being part of this community has been one of the happiest experiences of my life," said O’Connor.
Wartell said IPFW and Fort Wayne will miss O’Connor. “Chuck brought a renewed energy and life to our College of Visual and Performing Arts—and to the arts community as a whole. We will miss his enthusiasm and talent. We wish Chuck and his wife Pilar the best of luck as they return to Lincoln.”
O’Connor has always been a strong advocate for the arts, and at IPFW he focused his energies on the changing role of the arts in higher education as wells as in the community. He is credited with developing a partnership with Sweetwater Sound that brought about an endowment that funds a new music technology program at IPFW. Chuck Surack, president and CEO of Sweetwater, said O’Connor has been a great partner for his company. “His work in helping to establish a very strong Music Technology program at IPFW will further put Fort Wayne on the map as a destination for learning how music is made and recorded today. His tireless efforts to promote and grow the arts scene in our community made a significant impact, including his weekly TV show, his work for Arts United, and his contagious enthusiasm for the arts on many other fronts. We at Sweetwater wish him all the best in his new endeavor.”
He brought the arts into everyone’s home throughout the academic year, with the idea for and production and hosting of Arts Weekly, seen on WFWA-PBS39 and CATV, the college access channel, housed at IPFW. Bruce Haines, president and general manger of WFWA, said “Chuck understood how collaboration could increase our community's connections to the arts. Chuck developed Arts Weekly for broadcast on CATV and in partnership with PBS39. He also approved the production of the first live broadcast of the IPFW Holiday Concert on PBS39 last month from Auer Performance Hall. Chuck helped make the local arts more visible. I'm sure such initiatives will encourage more local arts on the public television stage via PBS39 in the months to come.”
Members of the arts community were quick to praise O’Connor on hearing the news of his imminent departure. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Chuck since he came to Fort Wayne. He immediately became a close partner in advancing both The Phil and IPFW’s goals for our community. He has made a significant impact on the arts community over just a few years and his absence will certainly be felt throughout the Fort Wayne arts community,” said J.L. Nave, president and CEO of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Jim Sparrow, executive director of Arts United, said, “Chuck was great to work with. He was collaborative and focused his community efforts on helping establish greater visibility and purpose for the arts in creating a dynamic downtown and community. The Continuum Gallery and his help with the formation of the Cultural District Management Consortium and City recognition of this effort helped make a huge impact on the momentum of downtown development through arts and culture. It was a pleasure working with him.”
Likewise, members of the VPA faculty are also sad to see O’Connor leave. Barbara Resch, associate dean of VPA, said, “Dean O'Connor has guided the College's engagement with both local and global communities in broad and meaningful ways. He supports excellence in teaching, artistic production, and research, and his perspective on the importance and role of the arts in contemporary society has been refreshing and inspiring for our faculty and students. While we congratulate Chuck on his new position, his leadership will be sorely missed.” “It has been an honor to have Chuck work with us because he has a real sense of duty to our students and a commitment to getting our message out about the quality of our education and quality of our students. He was a GREAT trumpet in the community, heralding all of the achievements of students AND faculty,” noted John O’Connell, chair of the Department of Theatre.
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs William McKinney says IPFW will begin the first steps in finding a replacement for O’Connor soon. “We will conduct an internal search for an interim dean so that VPA has a smooth transition. We will begin a national search for his replacement in September.”
For more information, contact O’Connor at 260-481-6977 or firstname.lastname@example.org.