After a national search, Deborah Cullinan, chief executive officer of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, has been appointed vice president of the arts at Stanford University, where she will collaborate across professional, academic and public communities. , a future-oriented vision and plan for the arts in universities.
Reporting to President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Cullinan will be responsible for representing the arts at the highest levels of administration. He will oversee a central arts office and non-departmental and public-facing arts programs, including Stanford University’s Anderson Collection, Cantor Arts Center, Institute for Diversity in the Arts, Stanford Arts Institute, and Stanford Live.
In his new role, Cullinan will champion the arts as fundamental to the Stanford experience and the university’s mission, and develop strategies to support and expand the work of arts organizations housed under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President for the Arts. Opportunities include:
- Connecting art to the purposeful nature of Stanford’s mission and long-range vision
- Focusing on the role of the arts in creating connection, excitement and mental and physical well-being
- Enhancing the student experience by promoting the vibrancy and accessibility of the arts on campus
- Enhancing commitment to community engagement, social justice and culture change
Cullinan joined Stanford on February 28.
“Deborah brings a national profile as a thought leader and innovator in the arts, demonstrates a commitment to equity and justice, and has deep roots in the Bay Area arts community for this important role,” Tessier-Lavigne said. “Throughout the pandemic, art has contributed in so many ways to our well-being and connection to one another, and I’m thrilled that Deborah is joining Stanford at this important moment.”
“I’m excited to join Stanford’s community of visionary industry leaders and work with them to further contribute to the Bay Area creative ecosystem,” said Cullinan. “Artists do essential work to help us make sense of this time. Their ability to envision and realize a better, more just future is limitless. In this critical moment, Stanford has tremendous potential to foster the energy of art and creativity that can heal us to move forward.”
Cullinan is one of the nation’s leading thinkers on the key role artists and arts organizations can play in shaping our social and political landscape, and has spent years enriching communities through arts and culture. During her tenure at YBCA, she launched several bold new programs, engagement strategies, and civic alliances, including YBCA100, the Artist Power Center, and a guaranteed income pilot program for artists in partnership with the City of San Francisco. He is committed to revolutionizing the role that art centers play in public life.
Prior to joining YBCA in 2013, she was the Executive Director of San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts. She is a co-founder of CultureBank, co-chair of the San Francisco Arts Alliance, vice-chair of the Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy, and secretary of the Community Arts Stabilization Trust Board. He served as the inaugural Field Leader in Residence at Arizona State University’s National Accelerator for Cultural Innovation and is a former Kauffman Foundation Innovator. He served on San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s San Francisco Economic Recovery Task Force and Governor Gavin Newsom’s Jobs and Business Recovery Task Force.
Cullinan graduated from Lawrence University in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology.
The Office of the Vice President for the Arts (VPA) was established in February 2017 to advance the university’s arts priorities and lead strategic planning for the university’s arts goals. Harry Elam, president of Occidental College since 2020, was Stanford’s first vice president for the arts, a role he held concurrently with his positions as senior vice provost for education and vice provost for graduate education. Cullinan is the university’s first full-time vice president.
The VPA Central Office provides operational support for all units mentioned above and provides resources for students and faculty, including grants, career path opportunities, and a creative maker space. The Department of Academic Arts, which includes music, theater and performance studies, art and art history, and creative writing programs in the English department, is located in the School of Humanities and Sciences. Cullinan will work closely with schools and other campus partners to connect and integrate the arts across the university.