Phylicia Rashad set to step down as dean of College of Fine Arts at Howard University

Written by on August 9, 2023

Phylicia Rashad’s time as dean of the College of Fine Arts at Howard University is reportedly coming to a close. Per recent reports, the esteemed actress of the stage and screen is stepping down from the role after the 2023-2024 academic year. She assumed the position in 2021.

According to Andscape, the announcement was made by Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick in an email sent to students and faculty this week.

Harlem School of the Arts Gala 2023
Phylicia Rashad speaks in May at the Harlem School of the Arts Gala 2023 at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. The veteran actress will step down as Howard University’s College of Fine Arts dean at the end of the coming school year. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for Harlem School of the Arts)

“We deeply appreciate Dean Rashad’s selfless contributions and commitment to our alma mater during her leadership of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts and the many contributions she has made to Howard University’s students, graduates, and global community,” Frederick shared in the email obtained by the outlet.

The email also states that the search for a new dean will begin “shortly.”

As theGrio previously reported, Rashad is known for playing Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” and performing in plays such as “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Gem of the Ocean.” For her role in “A Raisin in the Sun,” Rashad earned a Tony Award, making her the first Black actress to win for best actress in a play.

Rashad said in a 2021 statement, “It is a privilege to serve in this capacity and to work with the Howard University administration, faculty, and students in reestablishing the College of Fine Arts.”

Just as her tenure as dean began, however, Rashad came under fire for a tweet regarding Bill Cosby, her co-star on “The Cosby Show.” As theGrio previously reported, the actress tweeted in support of the infamous comedian upon news that he would be released from jail because his sexual assault conviction was overturned.

The post sparked backlash from many, including Howard students, leading Rashad to post a follow-up tweet hours later writing, “I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward. My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth. Personally, I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My heartfelt wish is for healing.”

Howard University released a statement at the time, writing, “Survivors of sexual assault will always be our priority.” It went on to acknowledge that Rashad’s follow-up tweet set the right tone in saying that victims should be heard and believed but noted that “her initial tweet lacked sensitivity” toward sexual assault survivors. 

Rashad has yet to publicly comment on the news of her departure.

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