Kristi Henderson
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

KU names new School of the Arts leader

Tue, 03/25/2014

LAWRENCE – The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has selected an experienced administrator with multidisciplinary perspective to serve as the next associate dean for the School of the Arts at the University of Kansas.

Henry Bial will bring more than a decade of leadership experience when he takes on the post July 1. Bial is jointly appointed as an associate professor in the departments of American Studies and Theatre.

Bial’s involvement across disciplines played a crucial role in his selection as associate dean.

“Henry Bial’s multidisciplinary background is an ideal match for the School of the Arts. As part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the school is a center of collaboration, actively partnering arts with sciences, humanities and more,” said Danny Anderson, dean of the College. “I am eager to see the opportunities that his enthusiasm and administrative experience will bring about for the School of the Arts.”

Building upon the collaborative and interdisciplinary strengths of the School of the Arts is a top priority for Bial.

“The location of the School of the Arts within the College allows for synergies that few universities anywhere can match, bringing together creative activity and traditional scholarship, professional training and liberal arts education, international stature and local engagement,” he said. “I look forward to building on the foundation laid by Associate Dean Elizabeth Kowalchuk and all the School of the Arts faculty as we work together to ensure a bright and dynamic future for the arts at KU and beyond.”

Bial will succeed Kowalchuk, who has served as associate dean for the School of the Arts since its founding in 2009. Kowalchuk led several efforts to establish the new school on campus and in the community. She developed an arts engagement certificate for all KU students, established a graduation ceremony for the school’s students, and launched outreach programs to raise the profile of the school locally and across the state, including the Passport to the Arts and How Are You Creative programs.

Bial arrived at KU in 2005 from the University of New Mexico, where he oversaw graduate studies for theatre and dance students for three years. At KU, Bial has served as chair of the Department of American Studies since 2012, following a one-year term as acting director of the Jewish Studies Program and five years as director of graduate studies in the Department of Theatre.

He has held a variety of leadership positions in other organizations, including the American Theatre and Drama Society, the Mid-America Theatre Conference and the Lawrence Jewish Community Center. He is currently serving a two-year-term as president of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.

An active scholar, Bial has written or edited four books and numerous essays focused on performance studies, theatre historiography and Jewish popular culture. He is currently completing a book about Broadway adaptations of the Bible for publication by the University of Michigan Press in 2015.

Bial completed doctoral and master’s degrees in performance studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, following completion of his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University. At KU, he has been recognized for his teaching and research, with awards from the Center for Teaching Excellence and grants from the university and the College to support his work. 

Matt Menzenski, a graduate student in Slavic languages & literatures, took this photo during President Obama’s speech at KU Thursday. Menzenski says he was struck by how relaxed the president was in his delivery. He missed a chance to hear former President Bill Clinton speak in his hometown in 2004, but finally got to see a sitting president this week at KU. “The opportunity to hear the president speak is just one of many great opportunities I've had at KU. So many interesting talks and events happen here all the time. I try to attend at least one a week-- it's never hard to find something interesting to go to.” Tags: University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences KU School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures KU Dept of Slavic Languages - Friends & Alumni Barack Obama The White House #exploreKU #POTUSatKU

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Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (, associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.

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