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Tamara Underiner, a scholar of theater and performance studies and associate dean for research for the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, has been named associate dean of academic affairs in the Graduate College at Arizona State University.
In this position, Underiner will serve as the main point of contact for graduate academic integrity, program quality, and oversight of the University Graduate Council.
“I wanted to recruit a faculty member who’d bring an interdisciplinary and innovative research perspective in this position at the interface of faculty and graduate student affairs,” said Alfredo Artiles, dean of the Graduate College. “Dr. Underiner has had extensive experience fostering interdisciplinary research collaborations, which will be central as she works to enhance and expand the portfolio of innovative interdisciplinary graduate academic programs offered at ASU.”
Underiner has been at ASU since 2001. In 2004, she was promoted to associate professor and assumed responsibilities as director of Graduate Studies at Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (HIDA). She ushered in and directed the first doctoral concentration in Theatre in the United States — Theatre and Performance of the Americas.
“The students in Theatre and Performance of the Americas have taught me a great deal about the realities of the world awaiting our graduates, both in and outside of academia. I see a key part of my work as graduate mentor and program builder to nurture the “philosopher” in the PhD,” Underiner said. “I would like to be a part of a concerted effort to cultivate a mindset of inclusion and interdisciplinarity, which have always been the cornerstones of my values and vision. I look forward to making the ‘New American Graduate School’ a reality at ASU.”
In her previous role at the Herberger Institute, Underiner was the liaison between Herberger faculty and ASU's Office for Knowledge Enterprise Development, to identify funding opportunities and develop grant proposals. She served on the Research Committee of the Alliance for Arts in Research Universities and was an active member of the University Graduate Council from 2011–2013.
She earned a bachelor's in communication arts from the University of Dayton in 1980, a master's in theater from Arizona State University in 1993, and a doctorate in drama from the University of Washington in 1997. In 2004, she was named a faculty exemplar by ASU President Michael Crow.
Additionally, Underiner is a founding member of the research team CENAS (Cultural Engagements in Nutrition, Arts and Sciences), which focuses on culturally informed, participatory theatre making for health promotion and education with communities of color. She currently convenes the Creative Health Collaborations team as part of the 2017-18 Team Leadership Academy at ASU.
Underiner is the author of “Contemporary Theatre in Mayan Mexico: Death-Defying Acts” (University of Texas Press, 2004), and has published essays in Theatre Journal, Signs, Baylor Journal of Theatre and Performance, TDR, and critical anthologies from academic presses in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. She is active in the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the Latin American Studies Association and the American Society for Theatre Research. She also serves on the board of the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics, based in New York City.
Underiner assumed her new duties on Monday, July 3.