Sending off a legend and welcoming a star

April 30 2021

After 15 years with the College of Fine Arts, we are sending the dynamic, warm, brilliant, and talented Karineh Hovsepian, Assistant Dean for Finance and Operations, off into retirement.

It’s not a particularly easy thing to do, even with the promise of rising star, Adam Pfost, poised to take the reins (more on his incredible background and skills in a minute). That’s just what it means to be inimitable.

“Karineh has been supremely devoted over these years to the financial health and sustainability of all units in the College, as well as our four professional arts affiliates on campus,” said Dean John Scheib who is also the AVP for the Arts at the institution. “The Arts at the U continue to thrive in no small part due to her extraordinary efforts and wise stewardship of our financial resources. There is no doubt about how well-earned her retirement is. We thank you, Karineh, for your service and impact.”

In the 15 years she’s been part of the CFA leadership, it has been her goal to advance campus arts’ sustainability, elevation, and expansion. And inarguably, she’s nailed it.

With her help in identifying CFA funding needs and strategizing successful funding proposals, she has: helped create 23 new faculty lines, increased annual TA funding by six times, and increased faculty and staff salaries by nearly $2 million beyond the general University increase amounts. She also helped increase the University Fine Arts Fees, resulting in $1.3 million in additional funding for CFA production, exhibition, performance, and communications around the Arts Pass program as well as expanded FAF Grant funding. Additionally, she helped secure $1.2 million for the Marriott Center for Dance Theatre rigging system, and Libby Gardner Hall lighting upgrades in David Gardner Hall.

Under her leadership, the CFA developed systems that helped all academic units achieve and sustain balanced budgets for 12 consecutive years running, and she developed a transparent, equitable, and consistent funding award process for the academic units.

She is a problem-solving hero, and we’ve been so lucky to benefit from her dedication and expertise. And true to form, she reflects back the goodness she sees in others.

“I had never considered myself an artist or even a very creative person, but the magic of working with my extraordinary colleagues in the arts over the past 15 years has inspired me to recognize and develop my own varied brands of creativity beyond anything I’d expected,” Hovsepian said. “If I’ve been able to help provide the college, its affiliates, and our remarkable people even a fraction of what I’ve received, I’m elated.” 

Luckily for us, a bright and talented person has been chosen to step into the role of Assistant Dean for Finance and Operations for the College of Fine Arts, and it’s clear we’ll remain in great hands.

Pfost, the new Assistant Dean for Finance and Operations, and has over a decade of experience in public finance, administration, and strategic planning, and his professional passion is in the space where strategic priorities and sound resource planning meet. 

Prior to joining the College of Fine Arts, he served in the University of Wisconsin Office of Budget and Planning, UW Heath Regional Strategy and Development Office, and City of Madison Planning Department. He also served on the Board of Directors for StageQ, a local theater company celebrating inclusive plays, and the Bartell Theater in Madison. Pfost has a bachelor’s degree in Zoology and a Master of Public Administration.

He is originally from Idaho and is thrilled to live near the mountains and family again. He and his husband enjoy finding vintage road signs, carnival food on a stick, and roadside attractions. Some of their favorites are the world’s heaviest ball of twine, Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron, and the House on the Rock.

“When I was learning about the College, I found the CFA vision statement: harnessing the power of arts to inspire our voices, fuel our passions, and ignite our futures,” Pfost said. “There was a vision that I wanted to be part of! A year of social distancing reminded all of us about the importance of community, expression, and shared experiences. I am thrilled to join the CFA community as the world begins to return to normal and to reconnect through art.”

So, as we honor the contributions and successes of outgoing Assistant Dean for Finance and Operations, Karineh Hovsepian, we welcome with open arms (although no actual hugs or handshakes) our new colleague, Adam Pfost.