Members of the NIU Board of Trustees endorsed his appointment April 14 following a national search.
Kassel begins work July 1 in DeKalb.
NIU Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman said the university is “fortunate to have attracted a dean with his creativity and commitment to community engagement.”
“Professor Kassel is a talented actor, an accomplished teacher and scholar and a proven administrator with significant experience supervising undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as public visual and performing arts events and community arts programs,” Freeman said.
A member of the SUNY New Paltz faculty since 2004, Kassel served as interim dean of the School of Fine & Performing Arts from 2013 to 2015. He served as associate dean from 2011 to 2013 and was associate chair of the Department of Theatre Arts from 2010 to 2011.
During his teaching career at New Paltz, he has directed and performed in productions, coached student actors, supervised directing projects and recruiting students. He also is an artistic associate of the Half Moon Theatre Company, where he has directed and performed in productions, participated in fundraising and developed company guidelines and policy.
He contributed to the development of interdisciplinary art/design and computer science/engineering programs in collaboration with the SUNY New Paltz School of Engineering & Science, including a Digital Design & Fabrication Lab and team that received $500,000 in start-up funding from Hudson River Ventures and Central Hudson.
Kassel also is familiar with Illinois: From 1983 to 1998, he taught at Bradley University in Peoria.
Coming to NIU is an honor, he said.
“What I see at NIU is the possibility of helping an already strong college thrive; one that offers a model for the nation about how to educate a new creative class that will innovate and disrupt, but also sustain and honor tradition,” Kassel said.
“I hope to promote a creative environment that encourages risk, allows talent and intelligence to unfold and grow and offers a means to enter the world just ahead of an impending future.”
Kassel plans to establish new interdisciplinary opportunities and strengthen current one, building on his work with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. He also will create stablish a student advisory board.
First, however, he will “listen – to faculty, staff, fellow administrators, and most importantly, the students.”
“I want to nurture and celebrate the accomplishments of members of the College of Visual & Performing Arts loudly and long,” he said.
“Artists who are a presence at the highest level nationally and internationally, scholars working at the cutting-edge and appearing in publications of the highest reputation, teachers routinely given the highest commendation by learners and peers, staff that provides the highest level of service,” he added, “and, most importantly, students eagerly sought by a variety of arts organizations, industries and public institutions, because they know, they make, they do, perform, speak, write and create with authority, clarity and vision.”
Kassel holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre and communications from Miami University of Ohio, as well as a Master of Fine Arts from Florida State University’s Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training.