Skip to Main Content
Arts & Culture

Meet Ohio State’s first vice provost for the arts

Art History Professor Lisa Florman is nurturing campus cooperation and spreading the good that arts do, especially for students.

Lisa Florman, a white woman with short blond hair, smiles while sitting on the edge of a chair in one of Ohio State’s newest buildings. She looks happy and friendly.

Lisa Florman’s previous roles at Ohio State included associate dean of interdisciplinary studies and community engagement in the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the Department of History of Art. (Photo by Jodi Miller) 

Ohio State sees a future in which arts serve as a cornerstone for engaging with communities throughout Ohio. To bring that into practice, Art History Professor Lisa Florman was tapped to be the university’s first vice provost for the arts, a role she started in September 2022. Her work also will focus on broadly integrating arts into the curriculum, increasing interdepartmental collaboration and elevating the visibility of the arts across Ohio State’s campuses.

We recently spoke with her about the major themes of her new role so far. Here’s what she said about…

  • Where she’s starting

    So far, I’ve had two priorities. First, to foster conversations around the arts so as to increase collaboration among our various units and with communities outside our walls. And second, to stand up several artist residencies and visiting artist series, so that our students can be exposed to some of the most exciting work being made around the country today. 

  • How Ohio State has a rich history

    I’m not sure many people realize what an impressive history the arts have here at Ohio State. To give just a few examples: The first BFA student in the Department of Dance, Dianne McIntyre ’69, went on to win three Bessie Awards for her choreography, a Guggenheim Fellowship and both Artist and Impact Awards from the Doris Duke Foundation. Emerita Professor Bebe Miller ’75 MA, was not only awarded four Bessies and a Guggenheim; she was also named a Master of African American Choreography by the Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington. Ann Hamilton, distinguished professor emerita in the Department of Art, has won national and international awards for her site- and community-responsive practice, including the National Medal of the Arts — as did perhaps our most famous arts alumnus, Roy Lichtenstein ’46, ’49 MA, ’88 DRH.

  • What the arts mean to Ohio State

    Our students and faculty have contributed in profound ways to shaping American culture and setting standards of excellence in their respective fields — as well as opening those fields up to different areas of inquiry. Embedded in that last thought is the other part of the answer I’d give here. The arts are powerful agents of change. As studies have repeatedly shown, exposure to the arts significantly enhances individuals’ creativity, as well as their openness to new ideas, their sense of well-being and their desire for personal growth. They foster community engagement, open dialogue and empathy toward others. All of those are things I want for our students and for the university as a whole.

  • Why this is the right position for her now

    I have been a member of the faculty at Ohio State for 29 years now, and I have loved teaching and doing research and writing, as well as being a department chair. Over the past couple of years, though, I realized that I wanted a chance for the work I do to have an even greater impact. My goal in this position is to make sure that no student graduates from Ohio State without having had some fairly significant engagement with the arts, whether it’s as an audience member or as an active participant. I would love it if we could give every single student the opportunity to make art—to operate within a set of constraints but, ideally, outside of their comfort zone, so that they’re pushing boundaries, risking failure. That, it seems to me, is where the really exciting discoveries happen. How great would it be if all Ohio State students had that capacity and mindset?  

  • What she’s excited about

    We’re planning to launch an app this fall that will offer people a guided tour of the public art on our campuses. My hope is it will be really informative, look great, and help raise awareness of some of the terrific work we have.

  • How alumni can help

    We never refuse to accept gifts for scholarships or research experiences, but I would also encourage alumni who work in the arts, or whose companies are looking for students, to reach out. And, of course, we’d love it if, when you come home for a football game, you take in an exhibition at the Wexner Center or Hopkins Hall Gallery, hear a concert in the new Timashev building, or see a dance performance. We have so much to offer — and I need help spreading the word!


Staff picks

To whet your appetite for upcoming events, we asked teams across our campuses what they’re excited about.

Department of Theatre, Film and Media Arts

She Kills Monsters is a play about a woman who lost her family and learns her sister played Dungeons & Dragons. Expect puppetry and comedy with meaning. October 26–November 3 in Proscenium Theatre. Learn more

Wexner Center for the Arts

Solo exhibitions running through December include multimedia artists Harold Mendez and Sahar Khoury sharing family and global histories. Exhibitions schedule

Urban Arts Space

Embroidering Past and Present: Lucie Kamuswekera and the Violence in Eastern Congo tells the turbulent history of the artist’s country through embroidery. September 19–November 18. Events schedule

Department of Dance

Gathering, a collection of works, is choreographed by teachers and performed by students. November 2–4 in Barnett Theatre. Events schedule

Faculty Club

An October 2–December 19 exhibit features nature-inspired oil paintings from Janet Grissom. Also, the club’s annual art auction is set for April 19. Art within the club

University Press

In the memoir I Would Meet You Anywhere, Susan Kiyo Ito explores her search for, and relationship with, her birth mother. Coming in November. New & forthcoming titles

Ohio State Mansfield

In Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, a storm traps people in a manor — and one of them is a killer. October 20–23. Ohio State Mansfield Theatre

School of Music

Going on sale in October: tickets (which often sell out) for the Annual Music Celebration Concert, featuring large ensembles. December 1 in Mershon Auditorium. Events schedule

Rate this story
Average: 5 (7 votes)