Richard W. Durst, dean of the College and Arts and Architecture and executive director of University Arts Services at the Pennsylvania State University, has been named to be the eighth president of Baldwin-Wallace College. He is a past president of United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) and the International Organization of Designers, Theatre Architects and Technicians. Durst succeeds Mark H. Collier, who has been at Baldwin-Wallace for 32 years, including seven years as president. Collier retires June 30. His selection follows a national search and was unanimously approved at the spring meeting of the B-W Board of Trustees. “Richard Durst is an international authority in theatre set design and the role of theatre in colleges,” says John Kropf, chair of the B-W board of trustees, who also chaired the search committee. “He has a warmth, presence and academic stature that connected with all of the portions of our college community.
“We are confident that our national search has yielded a person who will provide effective leadership for the next phase of growth and development at Baldwin-Wallace College and we look forward to working with him to provide the best of opportunities for learning and growth for our students,” adds Kropf.
Durst, who had described the College of Arts and Architecture at Penn State as a small college within a large university, brings to B-W demonstrated strengths in curriculum development and review, administration, recruitment and retention planning, fundraising, and facilities construction and management.
Among his research interests are electronic communication and the incorporation of technology into the classroom. In the theatre, his research deals with the international training of theatre designers and technicians; contemporary training of designers and technicians in higher education; and steel fabrication of theatrical scenery.
Although administrative duties have limited his creative activity in recent years, his work has been featured in group exhibitions in Beijing and Seoul and he has been invited to design the world premiere of The Belltower, to open in Europe in 2007. He also was the co-designer of the United States’ exhibit in the Prague Quadrennial, the world’s largest and most prestigious exhibition of theatre design and theatre architecture, which opened in Prague in 1999.
Prior to moving to Penn State, Durst was dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts (1996-2000) and special assistant to the dhancellor (1997-2000) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and dean of the School of Fine Arts (1989-1996) at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Prior to that he was a faculty member and department head at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
Durst is a graduate of Missouri Western State College and holds an MFA from the University of Oklahoma. He has provided national leadership for several fine arts professional organizations and currently is executive director of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans. He and his wife, Karen, are planning to live on campus in Berea.