Brown Arts Initiative Leadership Announcement

December 18, 2019

Members of the Brown Community,

It is with great pleasure that I write to announce the appointment of Thalia Field, Adele Kellenberg Seaver Professor of Creative Writing, as faculty director of the Brown Arts Initiative (BAI). Professor Field has served as interim faculty director of BAI since July 1, 2019, and will assume this critical role on a permanent basis effective January 1, 2020. Her appointment is the result of an internal search, which followed the decision by Inaugural Director Joseph “Butch” Rovan to step down from the role at the conclusion of his term.

I would like to thank Butch Rovan for his many accomplishments as faculty director. Under his leadership, BAI has become known as a hub for exceptional teaching, research and programming developed in collaboration with faculty, staff, students, alumni and visiting artists. He recruited renowned professors of the practice who have contributed to the vibrant community that animates Granoff, and he served in a pivotal role in the planning of the new Performing Arts Center. His significant contributions to the successful launch of the BAI position it well for the next phase of growth.

Thalia Field is exceptionally prepared to advance this momentum and progress.  As faculty director, Thalia will be responsible for shaping new strategies, catalyzing activities, and engaging in outreach to advance Brown’s strategic goal of becoming the university of choice for talented, diverse faculty and students seeking excellence in creative production, performance, scholarship, and education across the arts. In carrying out this work, she will be called upon to collaborate with campus colleagues in the arts and across the disciplines, and to partner with institutions locally, nationally, and globally. A critical component of the role is contributing to the development of Brown’s new Performing Arts Center.  Finally, Thalia will work closely with the BAI Executive Committee, and she will oversee the BAI staff to direct administration, communications and fundraising. The faculty director reports jointly to the University’s Provost for strategic and programmatic planning, and to the Dean of Faculty in relation to financial and human resources.

An exceptional author and teacher, Thalia Field brings the requisite depth of knowledge, skills and experience to assume this position at this pivotal juncture. She began her career working as a director, assistant director, producer, opera librettist and playwright in theaters in Paris, Berlin, and New York. Her writing has been published in several issues of Theater magazine, and she was the 1992 recipient of an NEA Opera Commissioning grant.

Thalia's eight interdisciplinary and highly experimental books have been published by top independent presses such as New Directions, Coffee House, Essay Press, and Dalkey Archive. Forthcoming books include Leave to Remain (Legends of Janus) from Dalkey Archive in January 2020, and Personhood, from New Directions in October 2020.

Thalia has a distinct perspective of Brown, having completed an independent concentration in 1988, and earning her MFA in 1995, working equally in playwriting and fiction. Since joining the faculty in 2000, Thalia has created a graduate Cross-Disciplinary track for students in Literary Arts whose practice combines writing with other arts, and has taught courses in radical interdisciplinarity. She has also provided significant University service, including chairing the Strategic Planning committee for the establishment of the BAI in 2016.

Please join me in thanking Thalia Field for taking on this consequential role. I look forward to working with her and our colleagues in the BAI community to realize our vision for the transformative role of the arts at, and beyond, Brown.


Richard M. Locke
Schreiber Family Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs