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College of the Arts Dean Cyrus Parker-Jeannette retires

Published July 22, 2019

Cyrus Parker-Jeannette, who has served as dean of Cal State Long Beach’s College of the Arts since 2014, has announced her retirement from the University, effective August 16.

“During a recent vacation, my husband experienced some health issues. The experience made us evaluate things a bit, and I realized that it is important to me to spend more time with my family,” said Parker-Jeannette. “Although I know this is the right thing to do personally, this is one of the most fulfilling jobs I have had in my life and it’s hard to leave. I have tremendous love for the college and the university, and I am so incredibly proud of the work we’ve done together.”

“It has been an honor and privilege to work with Dean Parker-Jeannette,” said Brian Jersky, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Under her leadership, she provided students and faculty the space to create artistic expression. Being a true champion of the arts, she nurtured a strong, creative environment where the arts thrived – her legacy will be missed by the college and university.”

Parker-Jeannette, who previously served as an associate dean of the college, became the first woman to head the college as a full-time dean since the 1970s. She began her educational career in California, studying theatre and dance at Cal State Fullerton. She later received her Master of Fine Arts degree from UC Irvine, going on to serve as the chair of Chapman University’s Theatre and Dance Department. In 2006, she joined CSULB as full professor and chair of the Department of Dance.

In addition to her work in academia, Parker-Jeannette has been a professional dancer and choreographer whose work spans concert dance, movement for theatre, gallery, and site-specific performances. With a particular interest in improvisational processes and the intersection of improvisation and choreography, Cyrus teaches internationally, serving as an artist-in-residence and master teacher in Taipei and Manila; at Jacksonville University, Spelman College in Atlanta, and other colleges and universities; with California’s professional modern dance company, Backhausdance; and at The Wooden Floor in Santa Ana. She has presented numerous lectures on dance, has published on early 20th Century dancer/choreographer Adolf Bolm, and has been an invited presenter on censorship in the arts. Parker-Jeannette has taught internationally and received several leadership and teaching awards during her career. Those include the 2003 California Dance Educator of the Year from the California Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, as well as the 2004 Director’s Award for Outstanding Contribution in Dance Education from California Dance and Movement. 

“While I set my retirement date more quickly than I expected or planned, I know how important it will be for the college’s new interim leadership to be in place to start the new academic year with energy and new vision,” said Parker-Jeannette. Provost Jersky has announced that Associate Dean Margaret Black will serve as acting dean for the coming year.

The college is the largest and most comprehensive publicly funded school for the arts in California, serving approximately 3,500 students each year. The college is the home to eight units: The Carpenter Performing Arts Center; The Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum; The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music; The School of Art; and the departments of Dance, Design, Film and Electronic Arts, and Theatre Arts.

Parker-Jeannette plans to remain active as an arts advocate with an emphasis in civic and community engagement. She is a mayor-appointed commissioner on the City of Long Beach Economic Development Commission, serves on the board of directors of Rancho Los Alamitos, and is committee chair of Creative Long Beach, which is part of the Arts Council of Long Beach’s program supporting student internships in the arts.

A national search for Parker-Jeanette’s permanent replacement is expected to begin this spring.