A new stage: Theater scholar joins Arts & Sciences as dean

January 17, 2022

University News

The next dean of the University of Richmond’s School of Arts & Sciences will be Jennifer Jones Cavenaugh, current dean of the faculty at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. She will join the University community on July 1.

“Professor Cavenaugh is a champion of the liberal arts and an accomplished scholar and academic leader,” said President Kevin F. Hallock. “I eagerly look forward to her joining us this coming summer and am excited about her leading our terrific School of Arts & Sciences.”

“Having a long history of being a strong proponent of faculty development and an active participant in shared governance, Dr. Cavenaugh will be a great addition to the University,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Jeff Legro. “She has deep experience in recruiting, hiring, and retaining an outstanding, diverse faculty and in strengthening an academic community, which are also priorities at UR.”

In addition to her role as dean of the faculty, Cavenaugh is the Winifred M. Warden Endowed Chair of Theatre & Dance at Rollins. Cavenaugh previously served for four years as the associate dean of Arts & Sciences. She also spent three years as producing artistic director of the Annie Russell Theater.

Cavenaugh’s areas of teaching and research include gender and performance, theater history, script analysis, and American musical theater. Her book Medea's Daughters: Forming and Performing Women Who Kill examines representations of women criminals in plays and television. She is a member of Actor's Equity and has performed and directed for over 25 years. She is the recipient of numerous teaching and research awards.

“The University of Richmond’s teacher-scholar model and its commitment to a liberal arts education and to undergraduate research drew me in immediately,” said Cavenaugh. “I look forward to working with such a vibrant community.”

Cavenaugh earned her undergraduate degree in policy studies at Dartmouth College, her MFA in dramaturgy from Brooklyn College, and her Ph.D. in theater history and dramatic criticism at the University of Washington.

All University of Richmond students begin their college journey in the School of Arts & Sciences, which is home to 23 departments and 13 interdisciplinary programs, and more than 300 faculty and staff. The school’s world-class faculty lead top-tier research programs, while teaching in the small, intimate classrooms of a liberal arts college and work closely with students in scholarship and creative expression. The faculty of Arts & Sciences boast a number of leading national research fellowships, including grants from Fulbright, Guggenheim, NSF, NEH, and NIH.