O’Connor tabbed as new dean of fine and performing arts

Charles "Chuck" O'Connor
Charles "Chuck" O'Connor

Charles “Chuck” O’Connor will become dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts on July 1, UNL Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ellen Weissinger announced today.

O’Connor, who was a professor in UNL’s department of theater arts from 1993-2003, is dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, a post he’s held since 2008. Prior to assuming the deanship, O’Connor was chair and executive director of the department of theater at the Nevada Conservatory Theatre from 2003-2008 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

While at UNL in the 1990s he envisioned and founded a film and new media program implementing the early use of digital technology and interactive media. He held a position at the University of Arizona before joining UNL. He holds an M.F.A. (1984) from the University of Southern California and a B.A. (1979) from California State University-Northridge.

As dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at IPFW, O’Connor has focused on the changing role of the arts in our communities and higher education.
A prolific advocate for all the arts, he has left his mark on several universities through successful fundraising, program development, and community partnerships. At IPFW, through an endowment from Sweetwater Sound Inc., he started of a music technology program that strongly implicates emerging technologies and media.

At UNLV, he raised substantial money and doubled the audience size of the Nevada Conservatory Theatre making it the most subscribed performing arts organization in Las Vegas, and winning the "Best of Las Vegas" award in 2006. At IPFW, with the help of a private donor, he opened an off-campus art gallery that serves as an anchor for urban redevelopment in downtown Fort Wayne. He hosts a weekly television show on WFWA -PBS for northern Indiana called Arts Weekly that can be found on YouTube.

O’Connor has won numerous awards for his work in computer visualization and design for television and theater.

“Charles O’Connor is an accomplished educator and innovative academic administrator whose commitment to artistic excellence and engagement with the arts community make him an ideal choice to lead the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts,” Weissinger said. “His accomplishments in areas such as faculty development, student retention and international education resonate with our campus goals.”

The appointment is pending Board of Regents approval.

"I am absolutely thrilled to be returning to UNL,” O’Connor said. “There is an energetic quality in the college and on campus right now that is palpable -- almost an impatience to change and be innovative. The faculty, students, and community have truly inspired me. It will be an honor, once again, to serve this great university and state as we aspire to become one of most exciting colleges of fine and performing arts in the Big Ten and the country. My wife Pilar and I are excited about our move back to Lincoln."

Former dean Giacomo Oliva resigned in May to become provost at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

— Kelly Bartling, University Communications