Joseph H. Seipel came to Virginia Commonwealth University in 1974 with a one-year contract to teach in the Department of Sculpture. More than 40 years later, he is retiring as dean of the School of the Arts. In that time, he says, the School of the Arts has become part of his DNA. Even more so, Seipel has become part of the school’s DNA.
“I’m leaving with absolutely great memories of a spectacular 42-year career and I couldn’t have asked for a better life,” said Seipel, who retires today. “The colleagues and friends that I have are lifelong and what an experience this has been. It’s been great.”
Under Seipel’s leadership, the school rose from No. 4 to No. 2 overall among arts programs in the U.S. News & World Report list of America’s Best Graduate Schools and maintained its No. 1 position as the top public program.
“Even when this was Richmond Professional Institute, this was a hell of a good art school and VCU has had a good art school all along,” Seipel said. “If I did anything to assist in that, it’s because those rankings are actually based on reputation and I have a big mouth. I never had a question about our quality, ever. … It’s just been making sure people know about it. And then we worked really hard on recruiting the best graduate students we could.”