A New Chapter for CMU Drama

By Shannon Musgrave
August 18, 2022

 

The School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University embarks on a new chapter under the leadership of Robert Ramirez, who began his tenure as head of school on August 1. As the beginning of a new school year approaches, Ramirez has his sights set on getting to know the students, faculty, and staff, and working together to advance the school’s mission of excellent training while also creating a more equitable and sustainable learning environment.

Ramirez joins CMU from the University of Texas at Austin (UT), where he served as professor and chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance. During his time at UT, Ramirez worked to transform hiring practices, resulting in the addition of five full-time tenure-track faculty members of color in the last two years. His commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion also led to an increase of BIPOC applicants to UT’s theater program, and more onstage work created by women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ artists.

Ramirez has long been a part of the professional theater industry as well, working as a professional voice artist, director, and actor. His research interests lie in the areas of Shakespeare and classical theater, contemporary acting practices, voice and speech pedagogy, and recorded voice artist practices. He completed his undergraduate studies at the Los Angeles Theatre Academy at Los Angeles City College and earned his MFA at the University of Delaware’s Professional Theatre Training Program.

Over the past two years, in the wake of the pandemic and an industry-wide reckoning around racial inequities in the American theater, the School of Drama has worked to examine and reimagine how educational theater can and should contribute to a more equitable and sustainable field. Given his track record for changemaking at UT, and his rich experience as an artist and educator, Ramirez proved the right fit to lead the School of Drama into this new future.

“I’ve admired Robert’s leadership for years and could not be more delighted that he will be joining us at CMU. I’m absolutely convinced that he is the right person to take the School of Drama forward, in community and in this exact moment,” said Mary Ellen Poole, dean of the College of Fine Arts.

“I am, indeed, honored to join the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon,” Ramirez said. “This is an opportunity to build upon the solid reputation and foundation that exist here among every discipline that contributes to the theater-making process and performance industry.”

In Gratitude.

 

The School of Drama extends heartfelt thanks to Anne Mundell.

Anne Mundell

Since August of 2021, Anne Mundell, professor of scenic design, has led the School of Drama as interim head. Working alongside a steadfast leadership team comprised of Dick Block (associate head and teaching professor of design), Kyle Haden (senior associate head and assistant professor of acting), David Holcomb (associate head and director of production), and Amy Nichols (associate head and director of operations), Mundell spent her year as interim head laying the foundation for meaningful change within the School of Drama. She exercised vital leadership in changing the school’s culture of hiring, the results of which can be seen in an incredible roster of new faculty joining the school this fall. She also championed efforts to remove barriers for prospective students, making the admissions process more equitable and accessible. Her concern for the needs of students, faculty, and staff is genuine and drove everything she worked to accomplish.

“Stepping into this office, I could not be more grateful for Anne’s tremendous work as interim chair,” said Robert Ramirez, incoming head. “Her dedication to the school and its citizens is apparent at every turn.”

Dean Mary Ellen Poole said, “Anne has taught me a lot about being a leader. Her generosity with gratitude and her quick acknowledgement of people’s successes galvanized, and healed.”


Thank you, Anne.