Phylicia Rashad has been tapped as the Dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts.
Rashad first earned a place in all of our hearts in her role as Clair Huxtable on “The Cosby Show,” but now she’s returning to her alma mater to help cultivate further generations of artists.
She will begin her prestigious new role on July 1.
Throughout her career, Rashad has racked up a multitude of Tony Awards and Emmy nominations. Aside from the beloved show which made her a household name, Rashad has also graced our televisions screens in TV shows such as “This Is Us,” “David Makes Man” and “Empire,” as well as in Pixar’s “Soul” and Netflix’s musical “Jingle Jangle.” Last year, she earned an Emmy nomination for her role on “This Is Us” in 2020 and nabbed her fourth NAACP Image Award for “Jingle Jangle” earlier this year.
In the past, Rashad served as a guest lecturer and adjunct faculty member at Howard. According to Variety, “This Is Us” co-star Susan Kelechi-Watson and the late “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman are among her students.
“I never saw myself as a dean,” she told the publication. “But then, I’ve never thought of myself as many things that I’ve been. “It’s a privilege to be a part of re-establishing the College of Fine Arts, to engage with the administration, the faculty, the students, the alumni, as well as artists around the country. It’s exciting to think about building towards a future with a College of Fine Arts and Howard University.”
Rashad’s new appointment marks the return of Howard’s College of Fine Arts as an independent school within the university. The university merged the College of Fine Arts within its College of Arts and Sciences in 1998, but the move faced heavy criticism from students, alumni and faculty staff.
Rashad revealed that she was even teaching while filming the classic sitcom, “The Cosby Show.”
“I started teaching at the invitation of Al Freeman Jr., who was a former chair of the department of theater. He was a friend and we had also worked together in soap opera, and he was from the state of Texas as well,” she recalls. “At the time that I was teaching this masterclass at Howard, I was taping ‘Cosby’ in New York. I would fly down every Friday after tape day to conduct what was supposed to be an hour-long class, which ended up sometimes being three hours because students wouldn’t leave.”
There are currently 307 students enrolled in Howard’s fine arts program this spring.
“I’m not arriving for the first time and yet it feels like I am, because I’m arriving in a new way,” she says. “But it isn’t really about me at all. It’s about students, the faculty, the university and how our curriculum, program, students and faculty will be supported.”