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Office of the President
Welcome to the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. MassArt is a vibrant learning community where artists and designers are prepared to contribute to the creative economy and to shape contemporary culture.
What can you do with a degree from MassArt? Anything you want! Our alumni are shaping the world of the future as painters, sculptors, curators, industrial designers, fashion designers, filmmakers, leaders, and creatives in numerous fields.
At MassArt you’ll find a supportive and imaginative community where you can explore, discover, see, learn, try, fail, laugh, try again, make, cry, succeed, process, and excel, all under the guidance of expert faculty and staff who are ready to prepare you for your future.
Founded in 1873, MassArt is the nation’s first independent public institution of higher education dedicated to the training of artists. That pioneering spirit continues today. At MassArt we are committed to excellence, accessibility, affordability, and diversity.
Please contact our Admissions Office to learn more. If you have a passion to create, MassArt may be just the place for you.
David P. Nelson
About President Nelson
Dr. David P. Nelson is the 12th president of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and brings more than 15 years of experience in higher education in administrative and academic roles. Prior to his arrival at MassArt, President Nelson served as Provost and Chief Academic Officer at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), the country’s first state-supported performing arts school, from 2010-2016.
At UNCSA, Nelson completed fundraising to establish an endowment for the Fletcher Opera Institute, at $13.7 million the largest endowment in the university’s history. He also instituted a system of faculty rank for the first time at UNCSA and led the creation of a new Teaching and Learning Center to offer student learning services and faculty support.
In addition to his experience and expertise, President Nelson brings to MassArt a commitment to the ideal of quality public education that opens doors to talented students. As a first-generation college graduate, Nelson knows the power of education to change lives. He studied music from an early age, and with the encouragement of a high school band director, he attended college on an arts scholarship. After completing graduate training as a conductor, he later returned to graduate school to study theology, which led him to teaching and writing in religious studies before he began work as an administrator.
While in university administration, Nelson has remained active as a teacher, artist, and community leader. He has regularly taught courses in philosophy of religion and religious studies. He served as music director for UNCSA’s production of Twyla Tharp’s "Sweet Fields," and in collaboration with violinist Ida Bieler, presented a lecture recital on the solo violin works of J.S. Bach. David has served on various boards, including the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts and the North Carolina Humanities Council. Currently, President Nelson serves as a member of the Boston Public Schools Arts Advisory Board.
Nelson received his Ph.D. in Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Master of Music and Bachelor of Music from Hardin-Simmons University.
messages from the president
- Our No to Bigotry, Hatred, and Violence
- Ensuring a Safe and Healthy Campus Climate
- Privacy, Academic Freedom, and Collegiality
- Title IX/Campus Climate Update
- First One-Fifty: President Nelson's reflections on his first 150 days at MassArt
PRESIDENT NELSON IN THE NEWS
- WBUR: Stop Measuring The Arts In Merely Financial Terms, Says MassArt President
- Boston Business Journal: Executive Profile: David Nelson wants MassArt to Make Its Impression on Society
- NECN: MassArt Faces the Future
- WBUR: MassArt President David Nelson On The Importance Of The Arts
- Chronicle of Higher Education: Busting the Art-School Myths
Chief of Staff
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- President David P. Nelson Bio
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Please credit: Photos by Kelly Davidson, Courtesy MassArt.
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