BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — A theatre artist with experience in academic arts administration, Joseph “Jay” Kline, has been selected to serve as interim dean of fine and performing arts at Illinois Wesleyan University. 

Josepph Kline
Joseph “Jay” Kline will oversee the IWU schools of art and design, music and theatre arts.

Effective July 1 for a two-year appointment, Kline will oversee the IWU schools of art and design, music and theatre arts as part of a University initiative to bring creative arts programs into closer relationships with one another and to raise the profile of the arts programs at the university.

The dean of fine and performing arts will assist in strengthening the arts culture on campus, leading to more integrated events, exhibits and performances. This collaboration aims to prepare students for the evolving nature of the arts industry, where versatility and cross-disciplinary skills are increasingly important. Dean-level leadership will relieve administrative burdens on faculty members and provide greater opportunities for engagement in their disciplines and interaction with students. 

“Dr. Kline brings to the position the qualities that we were seeking for this important new role, namely: more than 10 years of experience in academic arts administration, personal experience as a practicing artist and a track record of innovation and collaboration,” said President S. Georgia Nugent. 

Kline earned a PhD in fine arts from Texas Tech University, a master’s in drama from The Catholic University of America and a bachelor’s in performing arts from Colorado State University. His specialties are in playwriting and acting. 

He most recently served as a special consultant at Belmont University, working directly with the president on matters related to the launch and success of the school’s college of art. Kline was the president of Watkins College of Art in Nashville, Tennessee, from 2015-2020. He also served as the dean of the college of fine arts and professor of theatre at Eastern New Mexico University from 2009-2015. 

Faculty directors of Illinois Wesleyan's School of Art and Design, the School of Music, and the School of Theatre Arts participated in a search for the interim dean, collecting input from members of each division. 

All who met with him were impressed by his extensive and interdisciplinary experience in schools of the arts, his clear enthusiasm for the role and his very personable interactions with the group,” said Nugent.