Lindsay Bierman, editor in chief of Southern Living magazine, will be the next chancellor of the UNC School of the Arts.
Bierman, 48, was elected chancellor Friday by the UNC Board of Governors. He will start by Aug. 1 at an annual salary of $255,000, succeeding James Moeser, the former UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor who served as interim UNCSA leader since June.
University of North Carolina President Tom Ross said Bierman brings a “rare combination of business and management acumen, strategic thinking, and innovation and creativity.”
Bierman, an architect by training, has been a designer, magazine editor and business executive. He has been the top editor at Southern Living since 2010.
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Bierman, a Michigan native, has an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Virginia. He began his career at the New York firm Robert A.M. Stern Architects and wrote for Architecture and Interior Design magazines.
He held editor roles at Coastal Living and Southern Accents and was founding executive editor of Cottage Living. At Southern Living, he oversaw the development of the brand, with books, digital enterprises and hundreds of products. He redesigned the print magazine, while adding events such as South’s Best Tailgate and the Biscuits & Jam concert series.
UNCSA Trustee Chairman Rob King said Bierman was a wild card among an initial pool of 30 candidates. He said the search committee saw in Bierman someone with an entrepreneurial spirit.
When Bierman stood to address the board, he said: “I know that’s the million dollar question – it’s how did I get here?”
He said in his second act, he wanted a higher purpose, and he looked to higher education. “This door opened, and as soon as I walked through it,” he said, “I felt immediately home.”
Bierman said the Winston-Salem arts conservatory can lead students to the universal truths of beauty, art and humanity.
“We send our children to dance classes and music lessons so that they can experience what it’s like to get off of their computers for more than two minutes and express themselves more mindfully and physically,” he said. “We engage in more meaningful forms of perceptions through the arts, to recalibrate our senses and to seek experiences that entertain, inform, inspire and delight us.”
He said he wanted to help the school set a course for innovative and technologically advanced arts education. His experience in the magazine industry centered on recruiting, mentoring and unleashing a creative team, he said – the same skills he will use at UNCSA.
“I think we’ve only just scratched the surface of what we can do as an engine and a catalyst for the new creative economy here in North Carolina, and in the South and in the nation,” he said.
UNCSA includes a high school component and university degree programs, with instruction in music, dance, drama, filmmaking and design and production. The school will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its opening next year.
Last year, the school was placed on warning by its regional accrediting body, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on College. The agency cited questions about whether the school had an adequate number of full-time faculty, adequate records of student complaints and identification of student achievement outcomes, quality enhancements and improvement of educational programs and student learning.
Bierman said those issues had been solved and were not on his to-do list.