The University of Montevallo recently welcomed Dr. Steven J. Peters as the new dean of UM’s College of Fine Arts.
Peters comes to Montevallo from Friends University, a private liberal arts college in Wichita, Kan., where he had served as dean and professor in the College of Business, Arts, Sciences and Education since 2010. Prior to his time at Friends, he had been associate dean and professor of theatre in the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University in Detroit. He also has held teaching and administrative positions at Wichita State University in Kansas, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
As dean at Friends, Peters embarked on a program of enhancing the college’s national and international profile. Under his leadership, Friends was accepted as a Foundations of Excellence college and launched a first-year experience self-study under the guidance of the John Gardner Institute. He spearheaded a new academic advising and student success program, created faculty professional development programs, developed K-12 partnerships, transfer agreements with area community colleges, study abroad courses and undertook the modernization of the college’s curricula.
Initially a theatre artist and a performance studies scholar, Peters’ primary research and scholarship deals with the dynamics of collaboration and collective creativity. As a result, he has provided leadership in the national initiative for arts-integrated learning, charted new career trajectories for his students at the intersections of arts and sciences, and most recently published results of a trans-disciplinary collaboration that linked medical treatment, visual arts and performance studies. In his two terms as president of the 1,800-member Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Peters convened three national conferences focused on innovation and “artrepreneurship.” He chaired the 2012-2013 visioning committee that recommended dedicated funding and new public policy for the arts and culture to the City Council of the City of Wichita.
A current Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) board member, Peters previously chaired the CCAS Committee for Private Institutions. He organized and published a national Delphi study with university deans titled A Prophecy for the Liberal Arts in 2022.
Peters earned a bachelor’s degree in speech and theatre from Ouachita University, a master’s degree in theatre arts from Baylor University and the Ph.D. in fine arts from Texas Tech University. He has received a number of awards and honors for excellence in the fine arts as well as in teaching. He has served on numerous arts councils and other organizations and has directed more than 50 theatrical productions.
“Building on a distinguished career in college theatre as a teacher and director, Dr. Peters has held increasingly responsible administrative positions at respected institutions large and small, public and private,” noted Dr. Suzanne Ozment, provost and vice president for academic affairs at UM. “We are delighted to welcome him as the new dean of fine arts and are confident that the energy, creativity and vision he brings to the role will serve us well.”