There’s another new face within the USC administration this fall — Roski School of Fine Arts Dean Rochelle Steiner.
Steiner, who began her tenure as dean on Aug. 1, is a well-regarded curator and writer in the world of contemporary art. She has international experience working with artists and museums, and said she hopes to bring this to USC.
“I think it is important to grow this school and to create a great center for creativity, production and collaboration,” Steiner said.
Originally from Los Angeles, Steiner served as the chief curator at the Serpentine Gallery in London, worked as the director of the Public Art Fund in New York and most recently served as a consultant for the Miami Art Museum. She has been a key player in the contemporary art world for more than 15 years.
Steiner received her Ph.D. in visual and cultural studies from the University of Rochester in New York, and has curated more than 60 exhibitions during her career.
It is through her extensive work in the art world, Steiner said, that she hopes to bring connections and opportunities for students in Los Angeles.
“Based on my past, I have great relationships with museums and curators in L.A. and across the country,” she said.
Steiner said she has always enjoyed working with artists and is very excited about making the transition to working with student artists at Roski.
“I do think that, in a way, being the dean of the school is about looking at the future talent,” Steiner said.
Steiner said she will begin by meeting with the school’s faculty and analyzing how they can effectively increase the role of Roski on campus.
Though she has many goals for expanding the school, Steiner said her ultimate goal is to make Roski a premier art school in Los Angeles.
“Los Angeles is a great city for artists and art schools,” she said.
Former Dean Ruth Weisberg served for 15 years as the head of Roski. She stepped down last September to return to teaching and focus on her own art.
After taking a one-year sabbatical, Weisberg will return to Roski to teach life drawing, her artistic specialty.
Under Weisberg’s leadership, the school became extremely successful, expanded both the student body and faculty positions and brought in donations — including the $23 million gift from Gayle and Edward Roski, which resulted in renaming the school.
“We’ve really expanded the reputation of the school,” Weisberg said. “It’s been extremely satisfying.”
Weisberg said she is excited that Steiner decided to bring her artistic expertise to USC.
“I think she is a terrific choice and she will expand my work and my vision while adding many elements of her own,” Weisberg said.
USC Thornton School of Music Dean Robert Cutietta served as the chair of the search committee for the new dean, and said the committee chose Steiner because she embodied many of the traits seen in successful deans.
“What impressed us with Dean Steiner was that she brought to our conversations a true artistic spirit but also balanced that with the deep understanding of how that could interact with the educational mission of USC,” Cutietta wrote in an e-mail.
Karen Koblitz, full-time lecturer and area head of ceramics at Roski, said she believes having Steiner is a great opportunity for the school.
“I think that she will bring fresh ideas to the school and be able to push it in new directions,” Koblitz said.
Shannon Ebner, assistant professor of fine arts practice and area head of photography at Roski, agrees that Steiner will be able to confidently move the school forward.
“Rochelle Steiner is an excellent choice for Roski because she has a long history of working closely with artists as both a curator and an arts administrator,” Ebner wrote in an e-mail. “She knows how to collaborate in ways that are both conceptually rigorous and pragmatically efficient.”