July 23, 2014/For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu



Award winning designer will return to teaching

WINSTON-SALEM – Joseph P. Tilford will step down as dean of the School of Design and Production (D&P) at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), a post he has held since 2003, effective Aug. 1. After taking one-year research leave, Tilford will become a full-time professor in the set design program at UNCSA.

Dean Tilford recently informed his faculty, saying: “As most of you know, I turned 65 in January. I wanted to let something go so that I could have a less grueling work life …  After careful consideration, I love designing and teaching, and I could not give up those two parts of my work life.”

James Moeser, who recently concluded serving as interim chancellor at UNCSA, said: “We are extremely grateful for Joe’s leadership for more than a decade. He is a very talented designer, and a skilled administrator. His contributions to the School of Design and Production are beyond measure.

“When he returns to teach, students will continue to benefit from his expertise and his mentorship,” Moeser added.

Joseph P. Tilford

Under Tilford’s leadership, the School of Design and Production has achieved a nearly 100 percent employment placement rate for its graduates. Alumni have earned positions in virtually every major performing arts organization in the nation as well as national and international touring productions, Broadway, themed entertainment, and television and film production.

Enrollment has grown under Tilford’s watch, from just over 200 undergraduate and graduate students in 2003 to more than 300 students expected to enroll this fall.

Tilford was instrumental in raising the funding to complete construction of UNCSA’s state-of-the-art costume, wig and makeup building. Due to the successful fund-raising effort, every component in the building is named for a donor, making it unique on campus.

During his tenure as dean, the national Entertainment Innovation Conference became a reality. The conference brings innovators and entertainment experts from all over North America to campus.

D&P students have won more awards than any other university design and production program in the nation under Tilford’s leadership. The awards include the Kryolan Award for the best graduating makeup artist for six of the last eight years; the Oren Parker Award for the nation’s best undergraduate set designer in four of the last six years; and the Rose Brand Award for best graduate set designer, the Clear-Com Award in Stage Management, and the Rising Star Award, twice each. UNCSA has won the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) National Tech Olympics for seven straight years.

The awards, enrollment growth and employment record of the School of Design and Production have elevated it to the status of one of the finest programs in the nation. “I am leaving the deanship with D&P in great shape,” Tilford said. “We will soon need more resources to support our incredible growth, but our position as one of the top programs in the field is very solid.”

A highly regarded professional set designer who has designed for many of America’s most esteemed professional theatres, Tilford has maintained his professional design career while serving as dean. Recent designs include the world premiere ballet King Arthur’s Camelot as well as the world premieres of Travels of Angelica, Victoria Musica, Stone My Heart and One.

He has received numerous awards and honors during his tenure at UNCSA. In 2010, USITT selected him as one of two American set designers to highlight in retrospective design exhibits celebrating its 50th anniversary. In 2007, he was recognized as being among the world’s most gifted visionaries for his professional set design work. His work was chosen to represent the United States in the American Professional Exhibit at the 2007 Prague Quadrennial in the Czech Republic.

Tilford was the second dean of D&P, succeeding John Sneden, who retired in 2002 after 32 years, and is now dean emeritus. The School of Design and Production was established in 1968, becoming the fourth of UNCSA’s five arts schools.

Tilford is the third person at UNCSA to step into a faculty role after serving as dean. In 2006, Dale Pollock resigned as dean of the School of Filmmaking and began teaching cinema studies a year later. Susan McCullough stepped down as dean of Dance and returned to teach ballet in 2007. She retired this year.

Provost David Nelson said the school plans to conduct an international search for a new dean of D&P. In the meantime, he has appointed Jamie Call Blankinship, an alumna of the D&P program and an associate professor of stage management, as interim dean of Design and Production. She received a B.F.A in 1981, and has taught at UNCSA since 2005, first as an adjunct instructor and then as full time faculty since 2009. She has worked as stage manager for opera companies across the country, and as a producer of corporate meetings and events for a variety of clients.

“We are very grateful to Jamie Call Blankinship for agreeing to fill this leadership role,” Nelson said. “I know the school is in good hands.”

Tilford came to UNCSA from Chicago where he served as director of M.F.A. programs in design and directing and chair of the Design Studies Program at Northwestern University. Prior to Northwestern, he was head of the Theatre Design and Technology Program at Wright State University, and taught design at Cornell University.

 As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.