"Laura has made a significant and vital contribution to broadening the focus of interdisciplinary graduate study in our School, helping to integrate scholarly research methodologies in the fine and performing arts alongside the more established creative research methods on offer in our MFA program."

Graduate Program Chair, School for the Contemporary Arts, Peter Dickinson

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2020 Award for Excellence in Leadership: Laura Marks

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February 07, 2022

With her vision and leadership, Dr. Laura U. Marks helped to vastly improve the graduate program offerings in the School for the Contemporary Arts.

Marks’ notable contributions include her efforts to combine theory with practice in the contemporary arts. She created the Master of Arts (MA) program in the School for the Contemporary Arts, which takes a historical and theoretical approach to the arts, while the existing MFA program is devoted to creative practice.

Dr. Peter Dickinson, Graduate Program Chair in the School for the Contemporary Arts and recipient of the 2019 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Supervision, commends her initiative:

“Laura has made a significant and vital contribution to broadening the focus of interdisciplinary graduate study in our School, helping to integrate scholarly research methodologies in the fine and performing arts alongside the more established creative research methods on offer in our MFA program.”

Current and former graduate students have also praised Marks’ qualities as a supervisor and mentor, providing thorough yet encouraging guidance on both academic and non-academic matters:

“One of the most important aspects of Dr. Marks’ teaching strategy is that she recognizes the value of skill transferability,” says Mohammad Zaki Rezwa, former MA student. “I witnessed it most during the final term of my graduate study when we were all preparing ourselves for the job market. While guiding us on how to develop our graduate research and make it publication-worthy, she was also focusing on improving presentation skills, programming, and grant writing. All these skills that I honed during this time have allowed me to perform better in both academic and non-academic arenas.”

Aside from her vision and mentorship capabilities, students and colleagues also admire Laura’s ability to empathize with others:

“Laura’s excellence in leadership extends to her acute and deeply felt understanding of the social, human, and environmental contexts that underscore graduate study,” says Dickinson.

“Laura is committed to cultivating the next generation of cutting-edge researchers in the fine and performing arts, and on that front her standards for excellence are exacting. But she is also aware that her students are people first, and that scholarly research is never separate from the business of living.”

The 2022 Dean of Graduate Studies Awards for Excellence are open for nominations. Deadline for nominations is March 25, 2022.