MICA announces the appointment of Rob Sabal as the College’s next provost and vice president for academic affairs, beginning on July 12, 2023. Sabal brings 25 years of higher education leadership, with a focus in visual and media arts, to MICA. He currently serves as dean of the School of the Arts at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts; the school enrolls over 3,400 undergraduate and graduate students, representing 58% of Emerson’s student population. His diverse experience includes chairing the Department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson, serving as special advisor to the president and head of academic affairs for Emerson Los Angeles, and an appointment as an American Council on Education Fellow. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) and was past president of the University Film and Video Association.
“At a time in higher arts education when new thinking and action are needed, Rob Sabal brings to this important role vision and skills that align perfectly with MICA’s mission and strategic directions,” said President Samuel Hoi. “As a collaborative and innovative educator committed to providing diverse student populations with a transformational art and design education, he has a long and rich track record in effectively leading faculty and staff to achieve common goals in service of students and society. He has the humanity, judgment, and temperament to confront challenges while working with others to implement positive change. Very importantly, he believes in MICA’s urban anchor work and will play a key role in fostering our many reciprocal collaborations in Baltimore.”
An artist-educator with chief academic, financial and administrative officer experiences, Sabal is as expert in pedagogy as he is adept at a holistic approach to the design, implementation, support, and assessment of programs and initiatives. He is demonstrably committed to student support and outcomes, shared governance, and faculty development. A humble yet confident leader, he promotes and models civility, generosity, and gratitude, and is dedicated to creating a humane and caring community in order to support purposeful work and invite active engagement.
“It is an immense honor for me to join the MICA community at this pivotal time in the College’s history,” Sabal said. “I’m looking forward to working collaboratively with the faculty and staff to create a contemporary art education that will attract students from down the block and around the world. I have long respected MICA’s community engagement – bringing art and design students and faculty together with Baltimore’s civic organizations to advance positive social change – and I’m excited to get to know our partners and the broader Baltimore community.”
At Emerson College, as dean of the School of the Arts, he led a school-wide planning process to develop the school’s agenda, increased interdepartmental collaboration, and implemented new domestic and international programs for new student populations. He advocated for the arts on campus and in the community and secured resources, including endowed scholarships, to support both existing and new initiatives. Sabal has significantly diversified the faculty over the years. He led the adoption of the School of the Arts’ DEI plan, and launched the Dean’s Fellowship for Racial Equity and Leadership Development for students
Sabal received his Master of Fine Arts in Film and Video, as well as his Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies, from Northwestern University.
During his year-long American Council on Education (ACE) fellowship with the president’s office at Suffolk University, he participated in drafting a new comprehensive university-wide handbook –unifying faculty handbook policies from three schools (law, business, and arts and sciences) – and conducted research on online and hybrid learning, the diversification of revenue, and innovation in higher education such as new education technology ventures, degree disaggregation, alternative credentials, and competency-based assessment. As part of the research, he visited more than 40 colleges and universities world-wide: US, Canada, England, Japan, and UAE
In his new role at MICA, Sabal will serve as the chief academic officer, responsible for all aspects of the development and delivery of educational programs, including curricula, faculty, facilities and budget, and ensuring and supporting the achievement and fulfillment of academic excellence across all disciplines of the College.
Sabal is married to novelist and memoirist Mako Yoshikawa and has two children.