Professor: Michigan State ‘is wise’ to hire former DIA director
Graham Beal, who retired as director of the Detroit Institute of Arts June 30, has accepted an appointment at Michigan State University.
Beal, 68, will be the Visiting Hannah Distinguished Professor, which MSU describes as “the most-prestigious faculty appointment at the university.”
An MSU release Friday said Beal will act as senior adviser to the provost, encourage collaboration between the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum and the rest of the university, and help with MSU’s new arts-and-cultural management master’s degree program.
Beal will also assist in the search for a new director for the art museum.
Jeffrey Abt, a professor in Wayne State’s department of art and art history who’s known Beal for years, called the announcement good news.
“I’m personally excited because it means he’s going to be around for a little while longer,” Abt said. “But it also makes perfect sense — Michigan State is wise to seize upon his abilities.”
Abt added when he’s taught seminars over the years at the DIA, Beal was an invited guest.
“Graham came many times and was just great,” he said, “open, self-effacing and accessible. The students really enjoyed him. MSU is lucky to have him.”
Beal left the DIA after 16 tumultuous but highly productive years that saw a complete renovation in 2007, a hard-won victory with the tri-county millage in 2012, and the termination of city ownership with the successful resolution of Detroit’s bankruptcy.
The termination of city ownership established the museum as a freestanding nonprofit whose collection, under an agreement with the state, can never be sold.
“Mr. Beal’s extensive experience in the arts provides faculty and students at MSU the opportunity to learn from an innovative leader,” said Christopher P. Long, dean of the College of Arts and Letters in the release.
“The breadth and depth of his experience will enable us to deepen our collaborations with the Broad Art Museum and enhance our new master’s degree program in arts and cultural management.”