Pratt Institute has named Jorge Oliver as the new dean of the School of Art. A Puerto Rican filmmaker, actor and educator, he is the first male filmmaker in the history of Puerto Rican cinema to openly deal with gay images. Oliver, who begins his duties effective July 1, 2020, has led the School of Art as interim dean for the past year.
“I am thrilled to be named dean of the School of Art. Pratt is a very special place with a long-standing dedication to excellence in education and the arts,” Oliver commented. “I am excited to lead its diverse departments, making sure we continue to provide exemplary education and contribute to envisioning art in this ever-changing world. I am very happy to do so by employing our shared values of inclusivity, integrity, and collaboration in my leadership.”
Prior to his role as interim dean, Oliver led Pratt’s Film/Video Department as chair from 2014 to 2019. During this time, he updated the BFA in Film curriculum, raising the profile of the program to be recognized among the top nationally and internationally. In his five years of leadership, enrollment for the undergraduate program more than doubled.
Oliver is known for his commitment to diversity and inclusion. As both a teacher and chair, he challenged students with regard to representation, encouraging them to reflect on the images and stories they put forth. In regard to faculty, he called for inclusion of women directors and filmmakers of color in the curriculum. With half of the students in the program female, he believed the department’s support of its female students would help shift the tenor of the film industry for more inclusivity and diversity of stories.
“We are delighted to announce Jorge as dean of Pratt’s School of Art,” said Kirk E. Pillow, provost of Pratt Institute. “He is a passionate advocate for arts education and promotes excellence when it comes to enacting meaningful work around diversity, equity, and inclusion among faculty, staff, and students. Jorge’s future-thinking, caring, and student-centered leadership style will serve the School of Art well.”
Pratt’s prestigious School of Art comprises eight departments offering the four-year undergraduate art programs and both associate and graduate programs in numerous artistic fields and disciplines. Its 36 full-time and 320 part-time faculty are distinguished scholars and practitioners in their fields.
As dean, Oliver aspires to explore questions such as: What will artistic practices look like in the future? What will be technology’s place in the arts? How is technology affecting art? Or art affecting technology? What role will artificial intelligence play?
Oliver’s films have been featured in film festivals in the United States and around the world. As an actor, he has performed Off-Broadway and on regional stages in San Juan; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; and Saint Louis, having also worked with some of the major Latinx theaters in the United States. He is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA) and Actors Equity.
Prior to his time at Pratt, Oliver served in several faculty and leadership roles at Webster University in Missouri and at San Francisco State University. He holds a BA in Psychology and Zoology from George Washington University, an MA in Media Studies from The New School, and an MFA in Cinema from San Francisco State University.