Columbus State University Names College of the Arts Dean

Richard L. BaxterCOLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State University today announced that Richard L. Baxter would move from interim status to dean of the College of Arts, effective Jan. 3.

“We’re delighted he accepted our offer,” said Tom Hackett, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Columbus State.

“Richard has such a wide array of experience from professor, to administrator to owning his own business. He has a tremendous skill set — including working the endowment end, which is critical in moving forward with the College of Arts.”

Baxter, who’s spent nearly four decades in higher education, was named interim dean last summer. He arrived at CSU in 2005 as Department of Communication chair, a position he held until he became interim dean. As communication chair, Baxter presided over the department’s move from Arnold Hall on main campus to Carpenters Hall on RiverPark Campus. That coincided with an academic realignment that made the department part of the new College of the Arts.

As communication chair, Baxter played a key role in planning a multimedia studio that’s being built for the department in Carpenters Hall as an extension of its students’ growing work with nonprofit agencies as part of their service learning requirements. He also added mass media and public relations degree tracks. Beyond teaching, he helped reinstate CSU’s Student Advertising Federation Chapter. He also served on the President’s Cabinet as chair of the Chairs Assembly, representing academic leaders.

“He has a unique understanding of how our university works, having served as chair of the chairs,” Hackett said. “We look at it as a seamless transition.”

Baxter said he looked forward to leading the college that encompasses the departments of art, communication, theatre and the Schwob School of Music.

“This is an exciting opportunity for me because of the outstanding programs we have in the College of Arts,” Baxter said. “I look forward to developing a strategic plan with the faculty that will position the College of Arts for success over the next decade.”

Before arriving at CSU, Baxter was co-owner, publisher and executive editor of two business periodicals in South Texas: The Business Times of the Rio Grande Valley  and The Business Journal of Corpus Christi.

Earlier, he served as a journalism professor, department chair and in administrative positions with universities in Louisiana, Georgia and West Virginia. His longest stint at one university was from 1990-2003 at what’s now the University of Louisiana at Monroe. There, he served as journalism professor, department chair, associate vice president and then VP for university advancement and external affairs, executive director of the ULM Foundation and executive assistant to the president. From 1986-1990, he was assistant to the president for college and public relations at what’s now Georgia College and State University and executive assistant to the president at Morehead State University in his native Kentucky.

Baxter earned his doctorate in communications at the University of Tennessee, his M.A. in public relations from the University of Georgia and his B.S. in elementary education from Eastern Kentucky University.