University of Florida selects contemporary choreographer and researcher to lead the College of the Arts

June 5, 2018
Brandon McKinley

Onye P. Ozuzu, dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Columbia College Chicago, has been named dean of the University of Florida College of the Arts.

Effective August 1, Ozuzu will be responsible for formulating and articulating a shared vision for the College of the Arts, leading fundraising efforts and managing the college’s budget and personnel.

A dance administrator, performing artist, choreographer, educator and researcher, Ozuzu has served as dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Columbia College Chicago since 2015 and was previously the chairperson of the department of dance.

During her tenure as dean, she oversaw the school’s $31 million budget, 524 faculty members, 110 staff members and 4,700 students. She provided direction to the nine department chairs of art and art history, business and entrepreneurship, creative arts therapies, dance, design, fashion studies, music, photography and theatre. Additionally, Ozuzu served as chair of a subcommittee on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Ozuzu has an established record of effective, inclusive and collaborative leadership, an outstanding record of teaching and creative activity, and a demonstrated commitment to the arts,” said Joseph Glover, UF provost and senior vice president of academic affairs.

As a dancer, Ozuzu’s work has focused on the body as technology and explored the intersectionality between many movement forms from tennis to ballet, West African dance to Hatha Yoga, and freestyle House to salsa among others. Her choreography has been performed both nationally and internationally in places such as Manhattan, New Orleans, Senegal and Cuba.

Her most recent work, Project Tool, has focused on the interrelationships between body, task and tool through the process of building wood-sprung dance floors. Project Tool is a 2018 Joyce Award and a 2016 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist recipient as well as a National Performance Network Creation Fund Project.

“I have dedicated much of my work as a dance artist to cultivating space for diverse dance forms to exist in pluralist relationship to one another,” Ozuzu said. “This has fed into my administrative work where I have fostered balance of visionary and deliberate progress in the arenas of curricular, artistic and systemic diversity, cultural relativity, collaboration and interdisciplinarity. To put it more directly, choreography is composition, composition in collaboration with humans and their energy in time and space; it is systems thinking, as is leadership. I look forward to entering the COTA community of artists and educators as a member and to working together on a deepening impact of the arts at the University of Florida.” 

Prior to her Columbia appointment, she was associate chair and director of dance in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she was integral to a seven-year overhaul of the departmental mission and curriculum with particular attention to a deep and sustainable integration of diversity, interdisciplinary studies and technology.

Ozuzu earned her Master of Fine Arts in dance and choreography and Bachelor of Arts in English literature at Florida State University.

She succeeds Dean Lucinda Lavelli, who is retiring from a 12-year tenure of deanship, during which Lavelli grew the College of the Arts endowment over $2.5 million— a 37% increase— since 2007 and raised over $6.8 million in scholarships awarded to more than 5,000 students since 2008.

Lavelli has spearheaded multiple interdisciplinary initiatives across the campus and community, including the Creative B Summer Programming that brings together multiple UF departments to present a variety of live, cultural performances and a range of creative activities for students during the Summer B semester. She also served at the forefront of connecting the university with the city of Gainesville, leading the campus and community planning committee that resulted in the Aligning Strategic Initiatives through the Arts Report.

About the College of the Arts

The College of the Arts, previously known as the College of Fine Arts, is one the 16 colleges and more than 150 research centers and institutes at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. The College of the Arts offers baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its three fully-accredited schools — the School of Art and Art History, School of Music and School of Theatre and Dance. The college is home to the Center for Arts in Medicine, Center for World Arts, Digital Worlds Institute, University Galleries and the New World School of the Arts in Miami. More than 100 faculty members and more than 1,220 students work together daily to engage, inspire and create. The college hosts more than 300 performances, exhibitions and events each year. Faculty and students also exhibit and perform at other local, national and international venues. To learn more, visit arts.ufl.edu.

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