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Sean T. Buffington Inaugurated as President of The University of the Arts
Sean T. Buffington, the newly installed president of The University of the Arts. Photo credit: Dave Jackson.

PHILADELPHIA.- Former Harvard University arts administrator Sean T. Buffington officially assumed the presidency of The University of the Arts today in an inauguration ceremony at the Merriam Theater. A member of the Philadelphia Art Commission, Buffington began his tenure at the university on August 15, 2007. President Emeritus Peter Solmssen, who oversaw the institution when it gained university status in 1987, performed the symbolic “passing of the torch,” officially bestowing the university’s presidential medallion on Buffington.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Barnes Foundation President Derek Gillman and Harvard Provost Dr. Steven Hyman offered greetings to the nearly 2,000 visiting academic dignitaries, alumni, students, faculty and staff in attendance.

Also during the event, Philadelphia-bred renowned jazz bassist Stanley Clarke, who attended the Philadelphia Musical Academy (a predecessor institution of UArts), received an honorary doctorate of fine arts for his contributions to the world of music.

During his inaugural address, Buffington detailed his vision for the institution, which has roots dating back to 1868. ”An arts university has the responsibility and the capacity to teach young people, through the discipline of art making, not only a set of technical or professional skills but also what we might think of as fundamental capacities – capacities that are critical to art making but also to citizenship, to leadership and to humanity.”

A native of La Plata, Md., Buffington graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and American literature and Afro-American studies. He was a Harvard College National Scholar and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. A Regents Fellow, Buffington earned his Master of Art degree in American culture from the University of Michigan in 1994.

Named Harvard’s Associate Provost for Arts and Culture and Director of Cultural Programs in 2005, Buffington oversaw arts activities and planning for the cultural elements of Harvard's new campus in Allston, Mass. As the University's principal representative to arts and cultural institutions in the Boston region, he was responsible for overseeing Harvard's Tony-award winning American Repertory Theatre; the Harvard University Art Museums; and Villa I Tatti, Harvard's Center for Italian Renaissance Studies.

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