B. Stephen Carpenter II appointed dean of the College of Arts and Architecture

December 06, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — B. Stephen Carpenter II, professor of art education and African American studies and interim director of Penn State’s School of Visual Arts, has been appointed to the position of dean of the College of Arts and Architecture, following a national search. Carpenter will start in his new role effective Jan. 1, 2020. 

Carpenter will take the reins from Barbara O. Korner, who has served as dean of the College of Arts and Architecture since 2007 and in March 2018 announced her plans to retire.

“Steve Carpenter will be a terrific dean for the College of Arts and Architecture,” said Nick Jones, Penn State's executive vice president and provost. “His recent service as interim director of our School of Visual Arts and distinguished background in art education teaching and research make him an outstanding choice to lead the college. His vision will sustain and advance our commitment to the arts across the University.”

Carpenter, who earned his master of education and doctoral degrees in art education from Penn State, joined the School of Visual Arts (SoVA) faculty in 2011. He has served as interim director of SoVA since August 2018. He is co-director of the SoVA Studio for Sustainability and Social Action, which received a Penn State Strategic Initiative Seed Grant for 2019-21; is chief executive artist for Reservoir Studio; and co-director of the Summer Institute on Contemporary Art, a professional development workshop for preK-12 teachers.

“I am honored to have been selected as the next dean of the college,” he said. “Dean Barbara Korner has left an impressive legacy for us to follow, and has set the college on a path for success. I am grateful for her leadership and aim to continue her important work.”

As dean, Carpenter will serve as the college’s principal academic and administrative officer, reporting directly to the executive vice president and provost of the University. He will oversee the college’s academic programs in music, theatre, visual arts, art education, graphic design, art history, architecture, and landscape architecture. Currently home to 1,225 undergraduate and 265 graduate students, 200 full-time and 60 part-time faculty, and 120 full-time staff, the college is committed to artistic and scholarly creativity, research, and the preparation of specialized practitioners in all of the arts and design disciplines, along with community engagement in its programs.

The college also includes the Center for the Performing Arts, the Palmer Museum of Art, Penn State Centre Stage and Penn's Woods Music Festival, which serve as important cultural resources that provide educational outreach programs for Penn State and area communities. In addition, it is home to several research centers and institutes, which help to foster a vibrant culture of inquiry that promotes excellence within the arts and design disciplines, while leveraging the potential of a comprehensive research university. 

As dean, Carpenter will engage alumni and friends as partners in supporting the University’s vision for the current Palmer Museum of Art to relocate to a new state-of-the-art facility and serve as a visible anchor for a new University cultural center located near The Arboretum at Penn State.

“I am eager to take on the challenge and responsibility of being the dean of the college,” said Carpenter. “The college is defined by the complexity and breadth of disciplinary engagements that reside within the range of arts and design fields. It is this very complexity and breadth that renders my role as dean a desirable challenge and a logical next step, given my interests and vision for what the arts and design can offer to a large research institution [Penn State], and to contemporary society at this historical moment.

“The college is in an exciting position, grounded in disciplinary and programmatic complexity, and ripe with possibilities and innovative ideas. Penn State and the College of Arts and Architecture are in a prime position to expand the public understanding of what we do and why this work is socially, culturally and educationally valuable.”

Carpenter previously held tenure-track faculty positions in art and art education at Texas A&M University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Old Dominion University. He is a founding faculty member of the summer residency M.A.T./M.A. in Art and Design Education at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and spent a 2017–18 sabbatical as the Ida Ely Rubin Artist-in-Residence at the MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology and as artist and learner-in-residence at Easterly Parkway Elementary School in State College. In 2019, he served as a faculty mentor for the Summer Research Opportunities Program.

Carpenter’s research interests are in curriculum theory; professional development through art for preK-12 educators; public pedagogy and participatory art practices; critical art education studies; and the global water crisis as curriculum. His mixed-media assemblages, installations, and performance artworks aim to confront and disrupt social, historical, cultural and political constructs. He has authored, co-authored and edited more than 100 scholarly publications, and presented at national and international conferences, on art education, visual culture, and curriculum theory. Most recent co-edited books include “The Palgrave Handbook of Race and the Arts in Education” (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2018) and “Strategies of Engagement Through Contemporary Art: Professional Development in Museums for preK-12 Art Teachers” (National Art Education Association, 2018). 

Carpenter served on the editorial review boards of Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society and the international editorial board of Curriculum Inquiry. He was senior editor of Studies in Art Education, 2017-19, and Art Education, 2004-06, and co-editor of the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, 2010-13. He is a National Art Education Association (NAEA) Distinguished Fellow and a recipient of the NAEA’s Eugene Grigsby Jr. Award.

He received his bachelor of fine arts degree in visual art from Slippery Rock University in 1987, and master of education and doctoral degrees in art education from Penn State in 1989 and 1996, respectively.

“As a two-time alumnus, to be asked to return and to join the faculty and then to be selected to be interim director of SoVA was honor enough, to have my Alma Mater want me back,” said Carpenter. “But to be the dean of the college from which I graduated twice, it’s a great honor. This moment marks a defining point in the history of the college, a moment framed by renewed fiscal security and primed for change and growth, as indicated by new leadership in Art History, Theatre, Graphic Design, The Stuckeman School, and the Palmer Museum of Art, and soon in Landscape Architecture.

“I seek to gain a stronger understanding of the college from a different vantage point than I have held for the past eight years,” he added. “A top priority will be to meet with faculty, staff and students in the first year to identify the stories and strengths they are proud of and want to move forward. I am eager to build on these strengths, invest in areas of current and potential growth, and take a few chances, by doubling-down on how and why the arts matter.”

Last Updated December 10, 2019