Award-Winning OU Educator Mary Margaret Holt Succeeds Richard C. Taylor as Dean of Fine Arts at OU
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: OU Public Affairs, (405) 325-1701
NORMAN – Rich Taylor, dean of fine arts at the University of Oklahoma, has resigned his position at OU to return to his home of many years in Florida so he can to devote more time to an entertainment-related company he and his wife, Andy Taylor, have co-founded and whose first venture has recently escalated.
“After 27 years of executive responsibility at The Walt Disney Company, followed by an energizing but still weighty eight years in higher education as OU dean of fine arts and tenured professor in Musical Theatre, I am following a new creative and leadership venture with fewer daily obligations,” Rich Taylor said. “In our incredible time at OU, our sons have become adults with careers across the country and internationally. We now need professional situations that offer greater ability to adapt to their changing lives and schedules and see them more.”
Mary Margaret Holt, director of the OU School of Dance, will succeed Taylor as acting dean, said OU President David L. Boren. The President indicated that he will later name Holt as interim dean, subject to the approval of the OU Board of Regents. Holt would also be eligible to be a candidate for the permanent position. Boren said, “I’m very pleased that one of OU’s most outstanding educators has agreed to lead the College.”
“It has been a pleasure to work with Dean Taylor over the past several years, and his service to OU and the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts is greatly appreciated,” Holt said. “He will be missed, and we wish him all the very best in his new venture. It is an honor to be named acting dean, and I greatly look forward to working with my colleagues in fine arts in support of our students, faculty, staff and programs. I am excited about the opportunities and challenges before us, and I appreciate President Boren’s confidence.”
Boren thanked Taylor for his service and wished the Taylor family much happiness in the years ahead. “As an OU graduate, he demonstrated his love for the university,” Boren said.
Rich Taylor, a distinguished 1972 graduate of OU, was previously the vice president of Creative Entertainment and Costuming at the Walt Disney World Resort. He is an OU Regents Alumni Award Recipient and is currently chairman of the board of Creative Oklahoma. He was recently named a Creativity Ambassador for the State of Oklahoma by Gov. Mary Fallin.
Taylor said, “My greatest joy and privilege in returning to the college from which I graduated has been to lead and serve our wonderfully talented students and world-class faculty and staff. Together, we have all tried to make our college a little bit better each day. I believe we succeeded. I will continue to love the OU family.”
Holt is an award-winning educator whose leadership has gained recognition for OU’s School of Dance as one of the top three dance programs in the country. She earned a bachelor and master of fine arts degrees in dance OU, and studied under prima ballerina Yvonne Chouteau and principal dancer Miguel Terekhov, who together established the dance program at OU. Chouteau and Terekhov were instrumental in bringing Holt back to OU to join the dance faculty in 1982. She was appointed chair of the Department of Dance in 1990, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts in 1991 and interim dean of the College of Fine Arts in 1997. Under her leadership, the Department of Dance was elevated to the School of Dance in 1998.
Holt has taught every course in the ballet curriculum at OU, has led Oklahoma Festival Ballet on 11 international tours to China, France, Ecuador, Mexico, Taiwan and Austria. She has choreographed over 40 ballets, musicals and operas, some of which have been seen in Europe and South America.
She has been honored with two Associates’ Awards for Distinguished Teaching, the College of Fine Arts Distinguished Faculty Award and the Governor’s Arts in Education Award. She was appointed a Presidential Professor in 1997, a Regents’ Professor in 1998 and in 2002 was appointed John W. and Mary D. Nichols Chair of Dance, also receiving the National Outstanding Teacher of Dance Award from the National Regional Dance Association in 2005.
Holt’s professional training began with a Ford Foundation grant leading to an apprenticeship with the San Francisco Ballet at the age of 15. Two years later, she was awarded an additional Ford Foundation grant to study at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet, where she performed with the New York City Ballet for two years.
In 1972, Holt joined the Houston Ballet as a soloist and danced a wide variety of solo and principal roles in the classical and contemporary repertoire. She also served as a guest artist, choreographer and teacher with more than 30 ballet and opera companies across the United States before joining OU.