Florida Southern College has named Dr. H. Alexander Rich as an endowed chair in the Department of Art History and Museum Studies.
Dr. Rich, who was named the George and Dorothy Forsythe Endowed Chair in Art History and Museum Studies, is associate professor of art history and chair of FSC’s Department of Art History and Museum Studies. He also is executive director and chief curator of the Polk Museum of Art and director of the Melvin and Burks Galleries on the Florida Southern campus.
“It is wonderful that the George C. Forsythe Family Foundation, through this endowed chair, recognizes the significant work of Florida Southern College and the Polk Museum of Art as we continue to strengthen ties with the local arts community,” said FSC President Dr. Anne B. Kerr. “We are excited to work with this tremendously important foundation through its president, Dr. William Gregory, to help further its longstanding mission of community betterment.”
With the appointment of Dr. Rich as the endowed chair, Dr. Gregory sees strong opportunities for continued arts-related advances: “We are delighted that this endowed chair in Art History and Museum Studies aligns with the foundation’s mission of high-level support for the local arts and culture, in addition to issues of community health and other social needs. Through the important academic affiliation between Florida Southern and the Polk Museum of Art, both organizations are poised to further increase their significant roles within Lakeland’s arts community.”
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Brad Hollingshead praised Dr. Rich’s leadership and his passion for the arts, which is recognized by this endowed appointment.
“Endowed chairs have long been a symbol of academic prestige,” Dr. Hollingshead said. “They validate teaching and scholarly excellence and provide consistent financial support. As such, they not only honor the faculty members appointed to them but also serve as an enduring tribute to the donors who established them.”
A native of New York City, Dr. Rich earned his Ph.D. in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and his A.B. from Dartmouth College. Prior to joining FSC in 2014, he taught previously in both the History of Art Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, and in the City University of New York system. He has worked in curatorial and educational capacities at museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Hood Museum of Art in Hanover, N.H.
Dr. Rich joined the staff of the Polk Museum of Art in 2017, becoming its executive director in 2019. He is a specialist in Modern and Contemporary art history, with a focus on European and American art of the 19th and 20th centuries.
“I am honored to have been named the George and Dorothy Forsythe Endowed Chair in Art History and Museum Studies,” Dr. Rich said. “This generous endowment enabled by the Forsythe Foundation and Dr. Gregory reflects the important synergistic relationship that exists between and among the College, the College’s Museum, and the role of the arts on campus. I and the talented colleagues with whom I am privileged to teach and collaborate will continue working to strengthen and deepen those ties.”