College of Arts and Architecture Dean Barbara Korner to retire in 2019

March 14, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Barbara “Bobbi” Korner, who has served as dean of the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture since 2007, has announced her retirement, effective June 30, 2019.

A national leader in arts in higher education, Korner has played a key role in the University’s efforts to establish Penn State as a cultural destination, and she championed the development of the “arts district” concept on the University Park campus to provide greater visibility and a sense of community for arts venues and the arts and design disciplines.

“For more than a decade, Bobbi has been an exceptional leader of the College of Arts and Architecture, overseeing more than 20 degree programs and supporting the University’s strategic priority to advance the arts and humanities,” said Nick Jones, Penn State’s executive vice president and provost. “While ‘the show must go on,’ Bobbi’s commitment and spirit certainly will be missed. We are grateful for her outstanding work, which has enabled the college to reach new levels of success and set the table for future growth and achievements.”

As dean, Korner has guided the establishment of several new centers and initiatives in the college while overseeing seven academic units, as well as the Center for the Performing Arts, Palmer Museum of Art, Penn State Centre Stage, and Penn’s Woods Music Festival.

During her tenure, the college expanded its research centers from two — the Hamer Center for Community Design and the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing — to five: the Arts and Design Research Incubator, which provides seed funding and support for high-impact arts and design research projects; the Borland Project Space, which showcases the vibrant research culture in the college; and the Center for Arts and Design Pedagogy, a cross-disciplinary collaboration between the college and Teaching and Learning with Technology. A sixth center, for arts entrepreneurship, is being developed as an extension of the college’s new academic program in arts entrepreneurship, which was established as part of the intercollege minor in entrepreneurship and innovation.

In addition, Korner oversaw the revitalization of the Woskob Family Gallery, located in the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center, in partnership with the Borough of State College. She also spearheaded the development of the School of Music’s new recital hall, scheduled to open in fall 2018, among other renovation projects across the college.

“It has been an exciting ride at Penn State,” Korner said. “The quality and engagement of the faculty and staff, the enthusiasm and excellence of the students, the support of the alumni and donors, and the innovative ideas of the unit leaders and associate deans of the college have allowed us to create new programs and initiatives that set the stage for reaching new levels of interdisciplinary collaboration at Penn State and leadership in the arts and design disciplines nationally. The shared goal of our strategic plan to have every Penn State student have a meaningful experience in the arts remains a challenge for all to pursue in the months ahead.”

During Korner’s tenure, the College of Arts and Architecture’s total endowment more than doubled to $82 million. She was instrumental in obtaining one of the college’s largest single donor gifts, a $20 million commitment to name the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. A focus on scholarships resulted in the college nearly doubling the amount of money annually available for students to more than $1.8 million. 

The College of Arts and Architecture has gained national visibility thanks to Korner’s leadership in several organizations. She served as co-director of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s (ATHE) Leadership Institute from 2000 to 2016 and was a co-recipient of ATHE’s Ellen Stewart Award for Career Achievement in Academic Theatre in 2016. Korner currently serves on the board of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project and was the first chair of the executive committee of the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities, of which Penn State is a founding partner. She previously served on the board of directors of ATHE and of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans. At Penn State, she served as chair of the United Way Campaign, the Forum Speaker Series, and the Academic Leadership Council.

Before coming to Penn State, Korner was associate and interim dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Florida. She previously served as dean of fine and performing arts at Seattle Pacific University and special assistant to the chancellor at the University of Missouri at Columbia, in addition to positions at Ohio University.

Korner is a distinguished alumna of the College of Fine Arts at Ohio University, where she received her doctorate in interdisciplinary fine arts. She also holds a master’s degree in theater performance and an undergraduate degree in theater production.

She maintains an active role as a performing artist, having performed dozens of stage roles in plays and musicals, as well as directed many university theatrical productions. Her women’s history performances have been funded by humanities councils in both Missouri and Washington state. Korner is the writer and performer of “Responding to the Call: African-American Women Preachers” and co-editor of “Hardship and Hope: Missouri Women Writing about their Lives.”

A national search to find Korner’s successor will begin this summer, with a new dean anticipated to be in place on July 1, 2019.

  • Barbara Korner

    Barbara Korner, dean of the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture, has announced her retirement, effective June 30, 2019. Korner has served as dean of the college since 2007.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated March 14, 2018