Chancellor Brian Cole names Patrick Sims UNCSA provost

Chancellor Brian Cole has named Patrick J. Sims as UNCSA's next executive vice chancellor and provost.

Sims currently serves as the deputy vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion and the Elzie Higginbottom Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to overseeing UW-Madison’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement (DDEEA), he is also founding director of the Theatre for Cultural and Social Awareness and a professor of theater.

Patrick Sims has been named provost at UNCSA

Patrick Sims will become UNCSA provost on Aug. 1.

“I am delighted to welcome Patrick Sims to the UNCSA community,” said Cole. “Patrick is a dynamic leader whose breadth of experiences as an artist, educator, diversity champion and senior administrator will benefit UNCSA immensely as we chart our next strategic steps forward. I am excited to partner with him to advance the mission of our institution and lead our phenomenal community of artists.”

Sims’ appointment begins Aug. 1, following UNCSA Board of Trustees approval earlier this month.

“Becoming the UNCSA provost is a professional dream come true,” said Sims. “I am grateful for and humbled by the opportunity to join one of the nation’s top performing arts conservatories at this critical time in history and higher education.”

“The arts have the power to transcend this era of physical and ‘cultural’ distancing, creating catharsis and inciting action and change in ways we haven’t yet imagined,” Sims continued. “I look forward to joining Chancellor Cole’s senior leadership team and working closely with the exceptionally talented students, faculty and staff of UNCSA to highlight the vital role of the arts in our society and their impact on our sense of humanity.”

Becoming the UNCSA provost is a professional dream come true. I am grateful for and humbled by the opportunity to join one of the nation’s top performing arts conservatories at this critical time in history and higher education.

Patrick Sims

Sims’ service at UW-Madison began in 2003 when he was brought in as a guest artist as part of the Lorraine Hansberry Project, which recognizes the contributions of Lorraine Hansberry and other Black women playwrights to American theater. A year later, he joined the Department of Theatre and Drama as an assistant professor where he created the Theatre for Cultural and Social Awareness, an interactive theater-based training model that dramatizes sensitive subject matters for universities, corporations and nonprofit organizations in the United States. During his time in the department, Sims became the first African American to move through the tenure and promotion process to achieve the rank of full professor; his research and scholarly expertise include acting, directing, devised theater and solo performance exploring the historical legacies of slavery and lynching in the United States.    

He also served as a member of the core faculty for the First Wave Scholarship Program, the first academic scholarship program of its kind in the country that uses the principles and aesthetics of hip-hop as the anchoring philosophy for scholarly and artistic achievement. The program is nationally recognized for creating original performances that are as rigorous in their critique of social and racial injustice exploration as they are compelling works of art.

In 2013, Sims was named UW-Madison’s interim vice provost and chief diversity officer, and in 2015 was named to the role on a permanent basis. In 2018, he was promoted to the role of deputy vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion and was named the inaugural Elzie Higginbottom Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), making him the first endowed CDO in the country. As deputy vice chancellor, Sims oversees the administration of the DDEEA, which has an annual operating budget of nearly $10 million with a full-time staff of 83 employees and 316 seasonal employees. Under his leadership, the DDEEA initiated a number of important steps to coalesce the institution’s various diversity efforts into a centralized hub that is helping to foster a more accessible and welcoming environment for the campus community and beyond.

As CDO, Sims has been an active member of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and the Big Ten Academic Alliance Senior Diversity Officers Group.

Sims’ responsibilities as CDO included developing and implementing a campuswide vision for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Notable achievements include increasing enrichment and support services for students who are first-generation, low-income, or from historically underrepresented communities; collaborating to develop recruitment and retention strategies for faculty and staff of color; and creating capacity-building experiences around DEI for all faculty, staff and students. Additionally, he led a shared governance process that resulted in the proposal and adoption of cultural competency resolutions for all employee governance groups and secured a unanimous endorsement of an institutional statement on diversity. He also helped to expand philanthropic support for the programs and the division.

In addition to his work at UW-Madison, Sims was an education artist at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. He received a certificate in higher education/higher education administration from Harvard University, a Master of Fine Arts in theater from UW-Milwaukee, and two bachelor’s degrees from Yale University, in psychology and theater studies.

As the senior academic officer at UNCSA, the provost reports directly to the chancellor and provides overall academic leadership for the school’s high school, undergraduate and graduate programs. Sims succeeds David English, who became vice president for academic programs, faculty, and research for the University of North Carolina System in May 2019. Karin Peterson of UNC-Asheville has served as interim executive vice chancellor and provost at UNCSA.

Contact Media Relations

Get the best news, performance and alumni stories from UNCSA.

June 22, 2020