Carnegie Mellon University
May 06, 2022

Arons Named Director of the Center for the Arts in Society

By Pam Wigley

Pam Wigley
  • College of Fine Arts
  • 412-268-1047
Abby Simmons
  • Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 412-268-6094

Wendy Arons, professor of Dramatic Literature in the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, has been appointed the new director of the Center for the Arts in Society (CAS) for a four-year renewable term. Arons will take over the role at the end of this academic year. 

Mary Ellen Poole, Stanley and Marcia Gumberg Dean of the College of Fine Arts, and Richard Scheines, Bess Family Dean of the Dietrich College for Humanities and Social Sciences, announced the appointment this week.

“Wendy will take over the leadership role of CAS from School of Art Professor Jim Duesing, who is to be commended for his excellent service to CAS since 2014,” Scheines said.

Poole concurred. “Richard and I are thrilled to have Wendy assume this crucial role, and we can't wait to see where she'll take the CAS. We are confident that she will build upon the foundational work Jim has done, and put her own stamp on it.” 

Arons has lent her time and talents to the CAS in various ways since 2008, shortly after she came to CMU. She was the project leader from 2008-2011 for the Performance and Ecology Project; served as the co-facilitator (with Kristina Straub) of the Performance Initiative from 2014-2017; and as a member of the Advisory Board since 2017. She will remain a member of the School of Drama faculty and will continue to teach dramaturgy classes.

Looking forward, one of her first tasks with the CAS will be to meet with arts and humanities faculty to determine the theme for the next CAS initiative, identifying its coordinators and working with them to put out a call for project proposals so that funding for the next cycle of projects can be put in place by mid-2023.

“The CAS is currently in the middle of its ‘Borderlines’ initiative, coordinated by the School of Architecture’s Mary Lou Arscott and Nico Slate in the Department of History,” Arons said. “I will also continue to shepherd and support the projects that are under way in that initiative, and help Mary Lou and Nico plan a capstone event for that.”

She said she is looking forward to building upon what Duesing has accomplished during his time at the helm of CAS and credits his support and guidance — not only to the CAS itself, but also to the team members themselves.

“Jim has exemplified service leadership in his work as director of CAS,” she said. “He has been the kind of leader who puts in place structures of support and guidance so that others can thrive and produce excellent work. I plan to continue to work in the same vein and with the same intentions. What the Center offers to faculty is not merely monetary support, but also valuable non-material support, through mentorship and networking. My goal is to build on those support structures and continue to expand them.”