In the Loop
Alumni News : Nov 10, 2015

Alumnus named new dean of the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas

Greg Watts’ (MFA Photography ’91) life path seemed to be destined for arts education. It was at UF where he found that he could challenge his ideas about art while being supported, encouraged and validated. His time in the MFA photography program was a turning point, and it was here where he would develop the growth he needed for his career.

“The experience taught me how to think about art at a deeper level and how to teach,” he says. “Critical Theory was becoming popular when I arrived at UF, and I consumed a fair amount of it – gravitating to the pop-cultural aspects and trying to contextualize it beyond architecture and fine art and into the fabric of culture itself. The nurturing environment at UF gave me support to do this.”

UF offered him a teaching assistantship, but arriving from England he was unaware that he was going to actually teach a course rather than assist. Electing to take courses in the education department opened up some possibilities he had not thought of before. “I needed to be taught how to teach”

“I loved the idea that I could offer students content I felt was missing in some of my own earlier education,” Watts says. “…and my faculty at UF were so supportive; it was an absolute joy.”

Watts’ career began immediately after graduate school when he was offered a teaching position. Not seeing any real prospects back home in England, he accepted. It was while waiting for a visa to be able to teach at Florida State University that a close friend invited him to work on a film crew in Nigeria.

“It was an amazing experience,” says Watts. “The people in Africa were so welcoming and it exposed me to a real culture shock. This is when I truly understood how big - and small our world is.”

This experience was significant to his belief in promoting international study opportunities for his students today. Having taught, traveled and curated around the world Watts has a wealth of experience to offer in his latest venture as dean of the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas.

"I relish the opportunity to work with the talented students, faculty and staff at UNT, while advancing the College of Visual Arts and Design's stature locally, nationally and globally.”