USU names new dean of Caine College of the Arts

Utah State University has selected Rachel Nardo as dean of the Caine College of the Arts.

Nardo joins USU from California State University, Office of the Chancellor, where she has served as the director of the multidisciplinary, international Summer Arts program for the past seven years. She will also hold an appointment as a faculty member in the Department of Music.

“We are pleased to welcome Rachel to Utah State University and to the Caine College of the Arts,” said Frank Galey, executive vice president and provost for USU.  “She is an innovative and energetic educational leader with extensive experience in sustaining and growing distinctive multi- and interdisciplinary programs in arts, humanities and community outreach.”

In her new role, Nardo will seek to promote a professional environment that promotes distinction in artistry and character, respect for the many forms of personal and artistic diversity, a commitment to deep engagement in teaching and learning and a dedication to service through the arts.

“Diverse experiences in the arts have the power to transform our thinking and help us achieve huge shifts in perspective,” Nardo said. “If we want the future of humankind to thrive and flourish in peace, these types of transformative experiences—diverse and global—are crucial to the success of our students.”

Nardo leaves California State University, Office of the Chancellor, where she gained experience in managing enrollment and recruitment, oversaw faculty development and evaluation, raised scholarship funds, and assessed and articulated approximately 125 stateside and international, multidisciplinary arts courses and programs.

Having risen through the ranks as an artist and academician, from choral and solo singer to conductor/producer, to assistant professor and associate dean, Nardo’s credentials are vast and wide reaching. Prior to her time at California State University, she served as professor and Beverley Taylor Sorenson Presidential Endowed Chair at the University of Utah from 2007-2012. From 2001-2007, Nardo was a professor of music and associate (vice) dean of research, as well as the director for the Tavel Center on Digital Arts and Technology at Indiana University.

“Rachel’s addition to the Caine College of the Arts helps us continue our efforts to promote an environment where students and faculty throughout the college can flourish and succeed,” said USU President Noelle E. Cockett.

Nationally and internationally, Nardo is known as an early childhood music researcher and innovative media arts specialist with the Creative Kids Education Foundation of Los Angeles. She received her bachelor’s in music from California State University, Northridge, where her studies focused on early childhood and choral music education with renowned conductor, John Alexander. She then received a conducting fellowship from the Saratoga-Potsdam Choral Institute with Robert Shaw and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Graduate studies include a master’s from the University of Illinois, with Charles Leonhard and a doctorate in musical arts with Patrice Madura Ward-Steinman at the University of Southern California.

“I strive to foster an academic and artistic community wherein faculty, staff and administration are highly engaged in each student’s development, their own artistry and scholarship and that of colleagues,” Nardo said.

USU’s Caine College of the Arts includes the academic departments Art + Design, Music and Theatre Arts and is closely affiliated with the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art on USU’s campus.

Current Dean Craig Jessop is stepping down to go on a sabbatical for a year, following which he will return to the Department of Music as a member of the faculty. An accomplished, Grammy-nominated musician, Jessop began his tenure at USU in 2008 as department head and professor of music. He was appointed the first dean of the Caine College of the Arts in 2010.

“I believe I can do my best work yet, here, at Utah State,” Nardo said.  “I have a growth mindset, an eye for opportunity and a passion for student and faculty success. I can’t wait to get started in this beautiful place called Cache Valley.”

Nardo’s official start date is July 1, 2019.

More information about USU’s Caine College of the Arts may be found at