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Susan Zaeske named interim director of Division of the Arts

September 17, 2019 By Käri Knutson

Susan Zaeske, an experienced campus leader, teacher and researcher, will lead the Division of the Arts as its interim director. Outgoing Director John Baldacchino has assumed a role as professor of arts education in the Art Department.

Zaeske will continue serving as associate dean for arts and humanities in the College of Letters & Science, with a portion of her appointment dedicated to serving as interim director.

Photo: Portrait of Zaeske standing in front of Bascom Hall

Susan Zaeske

“I am thrilled by the opportunity to work with the talented staff in the division, faculty in arts departments, and colleagues from across the campus to strengthen the arts at UW–Madison,” Zaeske says. “The Division of the Arts works to generate conditions for bold thinking and creative problem solving and will continue to develop and support our vibrant arts community. I look forward to making new connections and strengthening lasting partnerships with the arts units across our campus during the coming year.”

Since being named associate dean in 2011, Zaeske has significantly restructured the Arts and Humanities division and formed an advancement office for the college as a whole. She has worked with the Mead Witter School of Music, Art History, the film program, the creative writing program, and the Theatre and Drama Department. Zaeske is also involved in the arts in the broader community and serves as treasurer of the Madison Opera.

A UW alumna, she holds a BA in communication arts and journalism with a certificate in gender and women’s studies, and an MA and PhD in communication arts. Before joining the UW–Madison faculty, Zaeske was employed as a reporter and copy editor for the Milwaukee Journal, the Racine Journal-Times, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and the Wisconsin State Journal.

“The Division of the Arts works to generate conditions for bold thinking and creative problem solving and will continue to develop and support our vibrant arts community.

Zaeske joined the communication arts faculty in 1996. Her interdisciplinary research centers on rhetoric, history, gender, race, and political culture, and she has published scholarly articles and book chapters in the fields of history, English, political science and communication. Her work has garnered several major national awards, including the National Communication Association’s 2004 James A. Winans-Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address.

In recognition of her significant scholarship and contributions to campus, Zaeske has received the Letters & Science Hamel Family Faculty Fellow Award (2008-2013), a Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2003) and was a Vilas Research Associate (2003-05).

Zaeske will work with staff in the division, faculty in arts departments and with colleagues across campus to address the best ways of supporting the arts, Provost Karl Scholz says.

“These discussions will contemplate the best structure for administering critical services and valuable programming to support the arts as a whole on our campus, given that arts departments are spread across several schools/colleges,” Scholz says. “In short, the goal of the upcoming discussions is to determine how to best support individual arts departments and the overall status of the arts at UW–Madison.”