Harvey Young

Harvey Young

Dean, College of Fine Arts

Harvey Young is a cultural historian and arts advocate. An expert on the performing and visual arts, he has advised on arts & culture policy both regionally and nationally. He has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, NPR, CBC Radio as well as within the pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune among other major news outlets.

He is the author or editor of ten books including Embodying Black Experience and the Cambridge Companion to African American Theatre, winners of multiple book awards for outstanding scholarship. His most recent book, Theater & Human Flourishing was published in 2023 by Oxford University Press.  

In January 2018, he became Dean of the College of Fine Arts (CFA) at Boston University. As Dean, he provides primary leadership for the School of Music, School of Theatre, School of Visual Arts, BU Tanglewood Institute, Wheelock Family Theatre, BU Art Galleries, and BU Opera Institute. In addition, he chairs BU’s Arts Leaders Circle, which provides guidance on major University initiatives and civic partnerships concerning the arts. He is Professor of English (with tenure), Professor of Theatre Arts, and a faculty affiliate in the Department of African American and Black Diaspora Studies. 

Dean Young has led a resurgence of the arts at Boston University. Achievements include the opening of the Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre, the successful close of BU’s first-ever capital campaign (with CFA exceeding goal by 40%), extensive renovation of CFA facilities (with more than $110M invested), comprehensive redesign of curricular offerings and the launch of signature new degrees, the expansion of international programs, and the recruitment of award-winning, world-class faculty, and the creation of CFA’s current strategic plan (Beacon 2030).  

Beyond the arts, Dean Young has played an outsized role in leading strategic initiatives at Boston University. He currently serves on the Presidential Search committee; served as a co-architect of the University’s Strategic Plan (BU 20/30); chaired the searches for the Associate Provost for Community & Inclusion and Dean of Wheelock College (Education); and served on a university-level taskforce to assess the future of PhD education.  

Between 2002 and 2017, Dr. Young was a member of the faculty at Northwestern University, where he was Professor and Chair of Theatre as well as Professor of African American Studies and Professor of Radio/Television/Film. During his tenure as Chair, Northwestern Theatre rose to #2 in the nation (The Hollywood Reporter). 

A past president of both the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and the Black Theatre Association, Dean Young has served on the boards of numerous arts and educational organizations, including the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago, Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru), American Society for Theatre Research and Yale Club of Chicago. He currently serves on the boards of Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra and Company One Theatre. He has served as an evaluator for numerous arts & culture foundations, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  

A former Harvard and Stanford faculty fellow, Dean Young graduated with honors from Yale and holds a Ph.D. from Cornell. In 2021, he was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre.