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Dean Barbara O. Korner: Biography

Barbara O. Korner

Barbara Oliver Korner has been dean of the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture since June 2007, during which time she has overseen the development of a bustling Arts District on the northern end of campus. The college has more than 20 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in architecture, landscape architecture, art history, integrative arts, music, theatre, visual arts, and graphic design, and is proud to present hundreds of musical and theatre performances, visual arts exhibitions, and related events each semester.

A national leader in arts in higher education, Dean Korner served as co-director of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s (ATHE) Leadership Institute from 2000 to 2016. She co-founded the institute, which has worked with more than 250 faculty and administrators, with Mark Heckler, president of Valparaiso University. In 2016, she and Heckler were co-recipients of ATHE’s Ellen Stewart Award for Career Achievement in Academic Theatre.

Dean Korner serves on the board of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) and the executive committee of the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru), of which Penn State is a founding partner. The partnership involves thirty-five major research universities and includes a wide range of disciplines. She previously served on the board of directors of ATHE and of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans. At Penn State, she served as chair of the United Way Campaign, the Forum Speakers series, and the Academic Leadership Council.

Before coming to Penn State, she was associate and interim dean in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Florida. She previously served as dean of fine and performing arts at Seattle Pacific University and special assistant to the chancellor at the University of Missouri at Columbia, in addition to positions at Ohio University. Dean Korner holds a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary fine arts from Ohio University, where she was named a Distinguished Alumna in 2004. She also holds a master’s in theatre performance and an undergraduate degree in theatre production. She maintains an active role as a performing artist and is the writer and performer of Responding to the Call: African-American Women Preachers and co-editor of Hardship and Hope: Missouri Women Writing about their Lives. 

Updated February 2018