Phylicia Rashad, known for her portrayal of Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, returns to his alma mater as the new dean of the restored Howard University College of Fine Arts.
Howard announced the appointment after a nationwide search to fill the position.
Rashad, 72, majored in theater and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Howard in 1970, she will take up the new position on July 1.
She began her Broadway career in the 1972 musical Not supposed to die a natural death. Between her television and film work, she returned to the stage and won a Tony Award for her performance in 2004 in A grape in the sun.
In a statement, Howard University provost Anthony K. Wutoh said, “It is an honor to welcome one of Howard’s famous daughters to the house. [her] Nurturing mother. ”
This role is not Rashad’s first foray into education. She has been a visiting professor and lecturer at several colleges and universities, including New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Carnegie Mellon, and the Juilliard School. She was the first recipient of the Denzel Washington Endowed Chairs in Theater at Fordham University in New York.
The addition of Rashad reestablishes Howard’s College of Fine Arts. College alumni include Toni Morrison, Debbie Allen, Isaiah Washington, Roberta Flack, Chadwick Boseman, and Taraji P. Henson. As a result of an effort to cut costs, the university merged the College of Fine Arts with its College of Arts and Sciences in 1998, completely absorbing the program.
Boseman addressed the issue in his 2018 opening address at Howard University:
“For many of us in the fine arts, this [the merger] signaled to us that our programs, all the programs of the students who follow us could become watered-down concentrations. It has undermined the very legacy we were proud to be a part of and intended to continue. Boseman died in August 2020 after a battle with colon cancer. He starred in several films, including the 2018 hit Black Panther. In February 2021, he won a posthumous Golden Globe for his role in Ma Rainey’s black background. “
Two of Rashad’s family have ties to Howard. Her late father graduated from Dentistry there in 1945. Her sister, actress Debbie Allen, graduated from Howard in 1971.
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