Charles O'Connor

Charles O'Connor

Charles O'Connor

Dean
MFA from the University of Southern California School of Cinema and Television (now the School of Cinematic Arts)
BA in Theatre from California State University, Northridge

Chuck has been the dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts since 2012. He oversees four academic units: the School of Art, Art History & Design, the Glenn Korff School of Music, the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, and the newest unit in the college, the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts. The College has one non-academic unit, the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center that presents independent and foreign films to the campus and community of Lincoln; as well as the Nebraska Repertory Theatre, the professional arm of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.

In August 2019, the College opened the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, a $57 million investment made possible by a $20 million gift to the College from the Johnny Carson Foundation. This new program, faculty and facility incentivize interdisciplinary approaches to story-making at the intersection of live performance, cinematic arts, mixed reality, experience design, sensory and interactive media, sonic art, data and artificial intelligence. Students are becoming well-versed in speculative and interactive design, systems and critical thinking, coding, entrepreneurship and social responsibility and will be an important talent pool for our state’s changing workforce.

During Chuck’s eight-year tenure as dean, College enrollment has grown 10.8%, credit-hour production has increased by 13.4%, the six-year graduation rate grew by 7.3%, and the College leads the University in diverse enrollments. The College’s endowments grew by $46 million.

Chuck is the convening arts dean of the Big Ten, where he engages others in discussions on faculty evaluation for interdisciplinary and community-engaged work. He is a member of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans where he is leading initiatives on Diversity, Excellence and Inclusion.

Under Chuck’s leadership, the College restructured its business affairs. It created a centralized business center to organize business staff around deeper areas of expertise. As a result, the College facilitates better strategic planning, employs best business practices, drives operational efficiencies, utilizes and protects data and provides College leaders and faculty with useful information with which to make decisions.

Finally, Chuck is an unconventional thinker who works well with people with a startup mentality and who seek new ideas for our stages, screens, and headsets, and in our galleries, media and publications. He is interested in rethinking what we teach, how we teach it and who we teach it to.

He holds an MFA degree in Drama from the University of Southern California, and a BA in Theatre from California State University, Northridge.