Peter Sargent to Step Down as Dean of Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts after 25 Years

Nov. 21, 2018

Peter Sargent to Step Down as Dean of Fine Arts after 25 Years
Peter Sargent

Peter E. Sargent, dean of the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts at Webster University, has announced that he will step down as dean after 25 years, effective at the end of the 2018-19 academic year.

"The trajectory of the students in this outstanding College of Fine Arts has been such a rewarding experience," said Sargent, who has been with the College’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts since its inception 50 years ago. “I have seen the quality of entering undergraduate students get stronger and stronger in each succeeding year. I look forward to sharing the continued growth of the College and the Conservatory.”

The Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts has more than 500 undergraduate students studying majors in the visual arts, dance, music and theatre.

"I am proud of the fact Webster enjoys such significant recognition and respect in our region, which is demonstrated by the incredible quality of students we attract," Sargent said. “I have enjoyed the honor of representing a remarkable faculty of teaching artists and scholars who have a steadfast dedication in inspiring student artists and supporting their growth, talent and imagination. Further, the partnerships with our on-campus institutions, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, represent extraordinary and nationally unique opportunities for our students.”

The Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts was the University’s first named college, in recognition of Dr. Leigh Gerdine at the conclusion of his 20-year tenure as president of Webster University in 1990.

“Peter's work as a dean and as a professor has impacted thousands of students over the years, many of whom return to Webster to share their success in live theater, television production and film,” said President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble. "Our current and future students are fortunate that Peter will continue his first love, teaching and inspiring tomorrow’s great theatre artists.”

"Peter’s contributions to the world of theater extend well beyond Webster University, but it is thanks to his dedication that so many in theater across the nation look to Webster as a standard bearer,” said Julian Schuster, Webster University’s provost, senior vice president and chief operating officer. “We congratulate him on his 25 years as dean and 50 years of representing Webster with a wide variety of local and national arts organizations.”

A search committee will be established to conduct a national search to identify the next leader for the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts.

Sargent holds a BFA from the Carnegie Institute of Technology and an MFA from Yale University. He has belonged to many organizations and received numerous honors for his contribution to the arts and arts education. Among these, he is most proud of the Hall of Fame induction, the Founder’s Award and the President’s Award from the Educational Theatre Association; the Thomas Di Gaetani Award for leadership in theatre technology from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT); the Excellence in the Arts Award from the St. Louis Council of Arts and Education; and the Achievement in the Arts Award from the Missouri Arts Council. He also cites with pride the on-going success of the Unified Auditions, for which he is the national founder and coordinator; the partnerships fostered between Webster and the St. Louis Municipal Opera (The Muny), The Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, and the board of the Arts and Education Council.

Sargent is the resident lighting designer for Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, which makes its home on Webster University’s campus in the Loretto-Hilton Center.

After his retirement as dean, Sargent will return to the faculty in the College of Fine Arts.

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