Rebecca Zarate, PhD, named new Associate Dean for Research

May 08 2023

Please join us in celebration and welcome of Rebecca Zarate, PhD, who will be joining the University of Utah College of Fine Arts leadership team on July 1, 2023 as the newly-appointed Associate Dean for Research.

A board-certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) and licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT), Zarate comes to the U from Lesley University, where she has been on the faculty, a fellow in the Institute for Arts and Health, and director of the Music and Mental Health Research and Teaching Laboratory.

In this role, which she will take over from Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell, PhD, Zarate will oversee, encourage, and support the pursuit of external grant funding in the CFA, advocate for the recognition and support of arts research at the university, and build relationships with units across the institution to facilitate interdisciplinary research collaborations. She will also continue her research, teach courses, and provide service to the institution and profession.

“As I reflect on the privilege of joining the University of Utah in the role of Associate Dean for Research, I am filled with excitement for the opportunities to support and expand the work of innovation and transformation in the College of Fine Arts,” Zarate said. “I’m looking forward to driving an arts and health research agenda that affirms commitment to sustainable community health. I’m thrilled to be living in such vibrant community and beautiful part of the world and look forward to learning more about this incredible state from the people of Utah.”

And we are equally as thrilled to have her join our ranks.

“Dr. Zarate holds an impressive record of accomplishments, experience, and leadership in the arts-in-health domain,” said Dean John Scheib. “I also want to extend my thanks to Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell, not only for her exceptional work as chair of the search committee who brought Dr. Zarate to us for consideration, but also for her equally outstanding work as our inaugural Associate Dean for Research for the past several years.”

Zarate is a music psychotherapist, musician, researcher, and educator of music therapy, arts therapies, and arts and health. Her research focuses on community mental health and sustainability, health, wellbeing, and the arts. A licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Board Certified Music Therapist, and certified Vocal Psychotherapist, she has a specific area of expertise in mental health, anxiety, and improvisation-based music therapy.

Zarate’s American story began in 1999 when she graduated with a BMus(hons) from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and embarked on her master’s degree in music therapy at New York University. Being an international faculty member has given her a unique perspective on cultural experiences and issues of access to arts and health. This is at the heart of her mission to do research that has transferrable, translatable, and impactful meaning in the lives of the public and community health and wellbeing.

Her 30-year career working in the arts and healthcare, and with traumatized children, youth, and adults, has led her to be interested in the clinical, social, and cultural intersections of anxiety, and writes and presents on this from clinical, critical, and cultural perspectives. She is dedicated to translating clinical and educational knowledge of music and the arts as a health mechanism into the greater community through the intersections of cross-discipline, interdisciplinary collaborations, and arts and health technologies.

She is the author of the book, “Music psychotherapy and anxiety: Social, community, and clinical contexts,” published by Jessica Kingsley, where she illuminates the various dimensions of anxiety, and the inquiry of music and arts, and the global social issues of the rising impact of anxiety and stress.

Welcome to the University of Utah College of Fine Arts, Associate Dean Zarate!