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Sara Blair to Oversee University’s Arts Initiative 

Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs and Arts and Humanities

Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs and Arts and Humanities

Sara Blair, vice provost for academic and faculty affairs, has been selected to oversee U-M’s Arts Initiative as vice provost for faculty and academic affairs & arts and humanities. This expansion of her portfolio was approved by the Board of Regents in July.

 “I am delighted for the opportunity to provide leadership and stewardship for the project of embedding the arts more deeply across the whole range of the University’s mission, on our campus and in our engagements with our stakeholders and communities,” said Blair. “The power of the arts to challenge us, to promote understanding of the histories that shape our world and inspire visions of its transformation, has never been more vital or relevant.”   

The Arts Initiative is a universitywide endeavor to make the arts central to U-M’s identity and mission. A $20M investment in the initiative over five years was announced in January. The initiative is entering a new phase with the appointments of Professor Mark Clague as Interim Executive Director of the Arts Initiative, who will report to Vice Provost Blair, and Clare Croft, who has been appointed faculty director of arts research/creative practice in a position supported jointly by the Arts Initiative and the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR). 

In her expanded role, the first of its kind in the provost’s office, Blair will provide strategic arts and humanities leadership at the university level, encompassing the Arts Initiative and other key programmatic offerings and initiatives. 

“We will benefit from her support and oversight in the development of cross-cutting projects across campus, and of new synergies across arts and humanities and other disciplines,” said Provost Laurie McCauley in an announcement to campus leaders about Blair’s appointment.  “More broadly, we aim to elevate Michigan’s excellence in scholarship, creative expression, teaching, and engagement in these areas.” 

Blair has served as the vice provost for academic and faculty affairs since 2014. She is also Patricia S. Yaeger Collegiate Professor of English and faculty associate of American Culture and Judaic Studies. Her work has been supported by National Endowment for the Humanities, ACLS, and Michigan Humanities fellowships. She has collaborated with curators at the DIA, the International Center of Photography, and the Addison Gallery of American Art, served as consultant/advisor to a variety of photographic projects and exhibitions, and curated exhibitions at U-M’s Institute for the Humanities and the Middlebury Art Museum. 

Blair is also the author or co-author of six books, including How the Other Half Looks: The Lower East Side and the Afterlives of Images (Princeton University Press), Trauma and Documentary Photography of the FSA (co-authored with Eric Rosenberg, University of California Press), and Harlem Crossroads: Black Writers and the Photograph in the Twentieth Century (Princeton University Press).