Meet the nominees for the 2023 NCAA Board of Directors

 


Elissa Armstrong

Elissa Armstrong is an associate professor in the Department of Craft/Material Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts. She served as director and department head of VCUarts' Art Foundation Program for fourteen years. Recent national professional service includes a 2019–2021 term on the College Art Association's (CAA) Council of Readers, 2018–2020 as past-president of the National Council of Arts Administrators (NCAA), 2016–2018 as elected president of the organization and 2014–2020 as a NCAA board member. Additionally, she served on the board of 1708 Gallery, the nation’s longest artist-run contemporary gallery, from 2011–2018.

She has presented on first-year pedagogical topics at national and international conferences including College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory & Education, International Society for Education Through Art, Mid-American College Art Association, and SECAC, with ceramic work featured in numerous galleries and museums including the Fuller Craft Museum and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Her upcoming book with coauthor Mariah Doren, Can We Talk About Critique? Reimagining the Tradition: more inclusive, more fulfilling, and maybe a little more fun will be published in 2023, by Intellect Press (UK)/University of Chicago Press (USA). She was awarded a 2018 Canadian Art Council Grant and was honored with a VCUarts Distinguished Faculty Service Award. 

Armstrong received her MFA in ceramics from Alfred University; her BFA in ceramics from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design; her BA in English literature and art history from Queen’s University; and her B.Ed. in English literature and visual arts from the University of Western Ontario.

As an administrator and board member I prioritize collaboration; seeking and deeply valuing the perspectives and contributions of others in order to develop new, and strengthen existing, programming as well as come up with dynamic solutions to problems. I have brought this collaborative spirit to the boards I have previously served on. This includes the NCAA board where I served on its executive and membership committees, as a fellowship mentor, and also as its president and past-president. It was such a great honor and pleasure to contribute to an organization that I have attended, participated in, and personally benefited from since I first became an administrator in 2007. So much so, that I didn’t hesitate when asked if I would consider being nominated to serve the organization and its membership again. This group and its intimate conferences have always stood out in a field of other professional conferences as unique and special.  With NCAA you connect with a generous group of administrators and come away from its conferences refreshed, energized and with new connections you can reach out to for support and advice. It is these NCAA membership experiences I would prioritize as a future board member.   

 

 
Dave Beck

Dave Beck is the Director of the School of Art & Design at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and also Associate Dean for the College of Arts and Human Sciences. Over the past six years in these leadership positions, Dave has helped to grow the School of Art & Design to be the largest public higher education art and design program in the upper Midwest, with nine distinct majors enrolling over 1,000 students who are supported by 90 faculty and staff. As a tenured professor of Game Design, he is also the founding Director of the Game Design BFA at Stout, which is ranked as one of the top game design programs in the country. Entering his 15th year in higher education, Dave has worked at both private and public institutions, serving in roles such as interim associate provost, associate dean, chair, and program director. When Dave is not wearing his university hat, he is spending time with his family and running his independent game studio, Paverson Games, which specializes in both digital and analog interactive experiences.  

We are experiencing a moment in time where higher education is feeling the magnified strains of issues such as low enrollment, equity and diversity, budget cuts, and shifting cultural expectations of what education’s purpose truly is in the 21st century. I hope to bring experience from my own institution to both the board and wider NCAA membership as another lens through which to vision for the future, in order to help address, discuss, and move towards solving these issues. As a 2017 NCAA Fellow, I firmly believe that the future of this organization is the people, and I would strive to foster continued support for that program, as well as other forms of outreach, education, and membership. This includes NCAA’s participation in various conferences, events, and meetings throughout the country, which often include professional development workshops and panels that address tenets I hold valuable in leadership, such as inclusivity, communication, transparency, and collaboration.  

 


Robin Cass

Robin Cass is an artist, educator, and researcher based in western New York, where she has been a faculty member at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) for 24 years. She has a doctorate (EdD) in higher education administration from Northeastern University, an MFA from Alfred University, and a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design.  

Cass recently led the advancement of RIT’s institutional initiative to increase integration across technology, the arts, and design across its nine colleges to strengthen student success and drive institutional distinction. Prior, she served as interim dean of RIT’s College of Arts and Design. During her tenure in this role, she worked with her team to grow enrollment, improve the culture, and establish a new urban gallery and event venue to connect with the community through creativity.

Cass has exhibited, lectured, and taught extensively, and her work is included in permanent collections in the US and abroad. Her mixed-media sculptural work explores themes of discovery, perception, and wonder and can be seen here: http://www.robincass.com/ . Her research interests include the future of post-secondary arts education and the benefits of integrating the arts across curricula. 

As a member of NCAA, Cass has participated in conferences and presented at CAA conference affiliate sessions. She has also served on CAA’s Education Committee and Distinguished Feminist Awards jury. She is dedicated to helping the next generation of creative professionals grow and thrive through transformational higher education leadership.

Statement: “Leading from Anywhere”:

I have moved in and out of leadership positions over the course of my academic career. Still, I strive to lead regardless of whether I hold a formal position of authority at any given time, and I believe we can all effect positive change by assuming such a mindset. What does this mean? It means keeping abreast of emerging trends, taking a holistic view of our organizations, taking responsibility for advancing social justice in our workplaces, mentoring colleagues, and joining the “big” conversations that determine an organization or discipline’s future whenever possible. Organizations like NCAA can foster a “Lead from Anywhere” approach for all of us in the arts so we can strengthen our community and our institutions.

Art schools are special places where fertile minds envision the new, challenge assumptions and norms, and forge novel connections. I want to help arts administrators better articulate the extraordinary value proposition that arts units offer our broader institutions and communities. As a member of the NCAA board, I envision advancing the organization’s mission through participation in current efforts as well as collaborative development of new initiatives that align with emerging needs. I can contribute a spectrum of insights and capabilities gained from leadership experiences at a variety of levels, from department chair to dean to head of an institutional initiative. I also have extensive non-profit board experience and enjoy the work of cultivating professional community. I believe in the purposes of NCAA and would love to support it more meaningfully as a board member!

 

 
O. Gustavo Plascencia

O. Gustavo Plascencia was raised in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila and attended the Escuela de Artes Plasticas, Ruben Herrera, in Saltillo, Coahuila, before immigrating to the USA. He received his MFA in Photography and Media Arts from the University of Colorado, Boulder and his BFA from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Plascencia is a visual artist and educator whose creative work documents local ecosystems while practicing walking methodologies. He explores intersections of place, personal narratives, and the absence of the body, anchoring these experiences with the notion that place/landscape is a silent witness to the histories. His work has been shown at both national and international venues, including Museo de Las Americas (Denver, Colorado), Instituto de Artes de Medellin (Medellin, Colombia), The International Center of Bethlehem (Bethlehem, Palestine), Universidad Politecnica de Valencia (Valencia, Spain), and the Academia de Bellas Artes San Carlos (Mexico City, Mexico).

Plascencia is currently the Dean of Visual Arts at the New World School of the Arts (NWSA), where he serves as the creative and academic director of the visual arts college and high school programs. In this capacity, he directs program curricula and provides an effective and efficient instructional and learning environment for students and employees with maximum opportunity for growth. Before this appointment, he was the Assistant Chair and Graduate Coordinator at the University of North Texas and the Director of the MFA Programs at Memphis College of Art.

I am passionate about contributing to a community interested in addressing administrative best practices, social justice in the classroom, and institutional change to serve the expectations and needs of our ever-evolving constituencies. I believe that prioritizing high-impact changes, providing mentorship to faculty at different levels of performance, and prioritizing historically excluded student populations are essential to creating a better learning and working environment at higher education institutions.

The adaptability I developed as a first-generation and immigrant student in this country has proven to be an asset during the challenging times higher education is currently experiencing. An innate curiosity for systems, transparent communication skills, and a detail-minded regarding budgets and management have proven useful when dealing with a changing landscape in higher education.

While at NWSA I have focused my efforts on diversifying the faculty body to better reflect our evolving student population and the South Florida demographics by increasing our BIPOC faculty populations to attract an even more diverse student body. It would be an honor and a privilege to join the NCAA Board. This organization has provided me with the opportunity to be part of the conversation and a community of like-minded individuals to help me grow as an administrator and a catalyst of facilitate progress in our communities.

 

 

 
Binod Shrestha

As an arts administrator Binod Shrestha has participated in Emerging Arts Administrators Fellowship, NCAA, Early Career Leader Training, NASAD, Academy for Anti-Racist Leadership, Penn State, AICAD BIPOC Academic Leadership Training, Inclusion, Equity, and Community Building (IECB) Series, UNT among others and currently serves as a member of DEI Task Force (FATE). 

Binod Shrestha earned his MFA from Bangalore University and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He is a visual artist whose research interest lies in body, memory, the notion of home, and the intersection of violence. In his recent work, the idea of home and its association with the body has been a recurring metaphor for a discourse on displacement and identity, manifested in art objects, drawings, and installations. In Shrestha’s work, the stories are not literal retellings; he considers his role as an artist to bear witness to stories and, through the work, ask the audience to bear witness to the violence. His work has been exhibited in the US, India, Nepal, and China, including Minneapolis Art Institute Museum and Beijing Biennale. He has been a recipient of a McKnight Individual Artist Fellowship (through Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council) and the Art Matters Foundations Grant in New York.  

I believe in investing in labor that lays the groundwork for a material and lasting change instead of virtue signaling IDEA values. As one of the few POC individuals in a leadership role in arts administration, I will take this role to work and advocate for meaningful and tangible steps for an inclusive NCAA.