Phylicia Rashad is going back to her alma mater. The Houstonian best known to audiences as Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show has been appointed dean of Howard University‘s college of fine arts.
The Historically Black College and University conducted a nationwide search before appointing Rahshad. She’ll begin her new role on July 1 and report to Provost Anthony K. Wutoh.
“It is an honor to welcome one of Howard’s acclaimed daughters back home to her Alma Mater,” Wutoh said in a statement. “In this full circle moment, Ms. Phylicia Rashad will take the training and skills that she honed as a student at Howard and exuded in an outstanding performing career, and she will share those pearls of wisdom with the next generation of students in the College of Fine Arts. Her passion for the arts and student success makes her a perfect fit for this role.”
“I never saw myself as a dean,” Rashad told Variety upon the announcement. “But then, I’ve never thought of myself as many things that I’ve been. “It’s a privilege to be a part of reestablishing the College of Fine Arts, to engage with the administration, the faculty, the students, the alumni, as well as artists around the country. It’s exciting to think about building towards a future with a College of Fine Arts and Howard University.”
She continued, “I started teaching at the invitation of Al Freeman Jr., who was a former chair of the department of theater. He was a friend and we had also worked together in a soap opera, and he was from the state of Texas as well. At the time that I was teaching this masterclass at Howard, I was taping ‘Cosby’ in New York. I would fly down every Friday after tape day to conduct what was supposed to be an hour-long class, which ended up sometimes being three hours because students wouldn’t leave.”
Rashad says her appointment doesn’t mean she’s done acting. Following her star turn on The Cosby Show, she’s starred on This Is Us, David Makes Man and Empire. She earned her fifth Emmy nomination for her work on This Is Us last year and will once more reprise her role as Mary Anne in the third installment of the Creed film series. Michael B. Jordan will direct.
Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick was thrilled to announce Rashad’s hire.
“As we reintroduce our campus community and the world at large to Howard’s College of Fine Arts, the dean will play an instrumental role in ensuring an auspicious beginning for this reestablished institution,” Frederick said. “Given Ms. Rashad’s reputation as well as her capabilities and impressive list of accomplishments, she will undoubtedly empower the college to transcend even our incredibly high expectations. Under her leadership, Howard will continue to inspire and cultivate the artists and leaders who will shape our niche and national cultures for generations to come.”