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CFA Dean Benjamin Juarez to step down in spring

Boston University College of Fine Arts Dean Benjamín Juárez will step down from his position at the end of the academic year. PHOTO COURTESY OF BU PHOTOGRAPHY
Boston University College of Fine Arts Dean Benjamín Juárez will step down from his position at the end of the academic year. PHOTO COURTESY OF BU PHOTOGRAPHY

Benjamin Juarez, dean of the College of Fine Arts at Boston University, will leave his post at the conclusion of the 2013-14 academic year. Over the course of his five-year appointment, Juarez has spearheaded many initiatives and improvements to CFA and the BU community.

“The term ‘citizen artist’ has become part of the vernacular here at the college during my time here,” Juarez said in an email. “I may talk about it, but this idea of a serious artist with intense academic interest and keen awareness of the world is part of the DNA of this university.”

Provost and Chief Academic Officer Jean Morrison will convene a committee to appoint a new dean, said BU spokesman Colin Riley. The committee will be made up of at least three professors in CFA and will be chaired by an administrator.

Ty Furman, managing director of the BU Arts Initiative, praised Juarez’s leadership. Furman said Juarez is responsible for the creation of the Initiative, as well as the very popular arts leadership minor in CFA, which teaches artists how to be entrepreneurial leaders within their field.

“Dean Juarez has made countless contributions to the arts at BU,” Furman said. “The first of which is that he was on the committee that created the Arts Initiative. He, along with [College of Arts and Sciences Dean Virginia] Sapiro, [Dean of the College of Communication Thomas] Fiedler, [Dean of Students Kenneth] Elmore  and [Rev. Dr. Robert Allan] Hill, dean of Marsh Chapel, worked with the office of the Provost for a year to develop a set of recommendations, which continue to guide the Initiative.”

Laurel Homer, CFA director of communications, said Juarez understands the value of a fine arts education within BU.

“Dean Juarez is a visionary, a natural collaborator, with interests that cross areas of academia, art, social issues, cultures,” she said in an email. “These qualities, coupled with his warmth and enthusiasm, made for a unique combination that is inspiring.”

Many students in CFA said Juarez’s legacy would not be forgotten.

Alyssa McCallion, a senior studying graphic design, said she enjoyed taking the Arts Leaders Forum, a class taught by Juarez that prepares students for their careers as artists with lectures and guest speakers from the industry.

“It’s definitely going to be the end of an era,” she said. “He gave us confidence in being artists.”

Shawn Davern, a sophomore in CFA studying music, reflected on Juarez’s influence in CFA.

“He is passionate about the school,” he said. “The best part of life is playing a role in someone else’s story. He played a role in CFA’s story.”

Despite his influence within CFA, Juarez said his greatest achievement is the partnerships with other schools at BU, including the BU Medical Campus. The arts collaboration between CFA and BUMC provided relief to hospital patients through the work of theatre, visual arts and music students.

“The arts collaboration between CFA and the BU Medical Campus is one of my proudest contributions to the university,” he said. “At first, there were tempered expectations because of the coordination required and the busy environment, but it became apparent very quickly that patients, staff, students, visitors, everyone was benefiting from the relationship.”

Juarez said the stories of human connection that emerge from these types of collaboration, such as when students worked with those affected by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, are unforgettable.

“I will never forget how these students provided comfort to victims, families, staff following the Boston Marathon tragedy,” he said. “It was therapy for everyone, and I will cherish that memory in my heart for the rest of my life.”

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