Mary Schmidt Campbell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Mary Schmidt Campbell
President of Spelman College
Assumed office
Personal details
Born (1947-10-21) October 21, 1947 (age 72)
Alma materSwarthmore College (BA)
Syracuse University (MA, PhD)

Mary Schmidt Campbell is the president of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, a position to which she was appointed in 2015.[1] She is dean emerita of the Tisch School of the Arts and associate provost for the arts at New York University. She was appointed dean in 1991 and associate provost in December 2004.

Campbell is also past chair of the Department of Art and Public Policy at the Tisch School since 2000. Under her stewardship as dean, the Tisch School tripled the number of applications it received, cut its acceptance rate in half, and increased the percentage of minority students studying there from 10% to 40%.[citation needed] She initiated major renovations of the school's film facilities; inaugurated new programs in art and public policy, film preservation and archiving, and recorded music; and led the school in a $75 million capital campaign. As associate provost for the arts, her responsibility was to provide guidance and leadership in the arts which transcend individual schools at NYU.

Previously, she was commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs from 1987-1991 in the Edward I. Koch and David Dinkins administrations. She came to city government after having served as executive director of the Studio Museum in Harlem from 1977-87. Prior to that, she was guest curator and curator at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, from 1974–76 and art editor of the Syracuse New Times from 1974-77.

She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has sat on the boards of the American Academy in Rome, the New York Shakespeare Festival, and the United Nations International School. She holds honorary degrees from the College of New Rochelle, Colgate University, City University of New York, and Pace University. She has given numerous lectures, authored many papers and articles, and is co-author of Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1987) and Memory and Metaphor: The Art of Romare Bearden, 1940-1987 (New York: Oxford University Press & The Studio Museum in Harlem, 1991). She received a Candace Award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in 1986.[2]

She is a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities.

She is married to Dr. George Campbell Jr., president emeritus of The Cooper Union. They have three sons.[3]


Campbell received a B.A. degree in English literature from Swarthmore College, an M.A. in art history from Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. in humanities, also from Syracuse. Her doctoral dissertation followed the life of the Afro-American artist, Romare Bearden, and his quest struggle to "create a timeless and enduring body of work without relinquishing his unique individual identity."[4]

Executive director of the Studio Museum[edit]

From 1977-1987, Campbell served as executive director of the Studio Museum. During her tenure, Campbell steered the museum from a struggling organization located in a loft space above a liquor store to a 60,000 sq. ft. building and into one of the nation's premier black fine-arts museums with an annual $2 million budget.[5][6] At the time, the museum was the only one of its kind to be accredited by the American Association of Museums. Noticing the lack of a facility that could adequately communicate African-American art's "depth and range," she organized a series of exhibitions devoted to the country's leading black artists.[5]

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs[edit]

At the age of 40, Campbell was sworn in as the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs October 1987 by then-New York City Mayor Ed Koch. With an annual $172 million budget, the Department provides operating and capital improvement funds to 32 major institutions—including museums, theaters, zoos, and botanic gardens—and grants program money to hundreds of neighborhood arts groups.[6] A few weeks into her tenure, the stock market crashed, forcing the City to make significant budgetary cuts. The Department's budget was initially cut by $7 million, but Campbell was able to minimize the cuts to $1 million.[7]

One of her main accomplishments was organizing and fundraising "New York and the Arts: A Cultural Affair," a campaign focused on promoting cultural activities throughout the city and encouraging attendance.[7] Other accomplishments included a pilot program focused on introducing the arts to low-income youth.[7]

In 1989, she was reappointed by Mayor Koch's successor, David Dinkins. At her swearing-in ceremony in 1990, she proposed that the city's budget on drug education should be reallocated to her department for cultural and recreational programs for schoolchildren, saying that "if our children can be addicted to the power of language and the excitement of ideas, if they have the benefit of the time and attention of creative adults who have only the highest expectation of them, if excellence and discipline are the standards set for them, they will rise to the occasion."[8]

In May 1990, the Smithsonian Institution named Campbell to be the chairwoman of a 22-member advisory board to study ways to exhibit the heritage of black Americans on the National Mall, which laid the groundwork for the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.[9]

New York University Tisch School of the Arts[edit]

On October 1, 1991, Campbell was named dean of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. During her tenure, Campbell expanded the school's arts profile, including digital media in addition to theater, film, and television. Tisch also founded new disciplines and departments, "including a moving image archiving and preservation program, the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music and a dual M.B.A.-M.F.A. degree with the Stern School of Business at N.Y.U."[10]

In 2008, Campbell established the Tisch Talen Identification Process, a program that recruits high-performing, high-need students to the school.[10]


  1. ^ "Biography: Mary Schmidt Campbell".
  2. ^ "Candace Award Recipients 1982-1990, Page 1". National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Archived from the original on March 14, 2003.
  3. ^ "About Dr. Campbell".
  4. ^ Schmidt, Campbell, Mary (1982). Romare Bearden: A Creative Mythology (Thesis). Syracuse University.
  5. ^ a b Anderson, Susan Heller. "DIRECTOR OF HARLEM MUSEUM SEEN AS MYERSON SUCCESSOR". Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  6. ^ a b Robertson, Nan. "New York's New Culture Chief". Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  7. ^ a b c Honan, William H. "New Administration: Profiles of Dinkins's Eight Appointees; Mary Schmidt Campbell: Commissioner of Cultural Affairs". Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  8. ^ "Culture Chief Asks Use of Drug Plan Funds". Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  9. ^ "Dr. Campbell Heads Panel On Museum For Blacks". Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  10. ^ a b Pogrebin, Robin (2013-12-01). "Dean Mary Schmidt Campbell Looks Beyond the Tisch School". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-17.

External links[edit]

  1. Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell Curriculum Vitae