Following a tumultuous year-and-a-half long search process, James Bundy DRA ’95, artistic director of the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, has agreed to be the new dean of the Yale School of Drama starting July 1, Yale President Richard Levin announced yesterday.
Like his predecessors, Bundy will also serve as artistic director of the nationally-respected Yale Repertory Theater — putting him in the unique dual-responsibility position traditionally coveted throughout the American theater world.
Current Dean Stan Wojewodski Jr. announced he would vacate the post last April but has continued in the role while Yale found a replacement.
In an interview Tuesday after the announcement, Bundy said he was looking forward to merging his new academic responsibilities with his directing skills during his five-year appointment.
“It’s too early to say what I’m going to do concretely,” he said. “But my charge from the president is very clear: first and foremost, to maintain the primacy of the School of Drama in its field.”
He said he would devote time to faculty and student recruitment in addition to his responsibilities at the Yale Rep. Following a national trend, student enrollment at the school has been down over the past decade.
After Wojewodski announced he would step down after a ten-year tenure, Levin formed a faculty search committee headed by theater and English professor Joseph Roach. Over the course of the next 18 months, the committee courted some of the top artistic directors and educators in professional theater for this prestigious position. Then, the University suffered a string of surprising public rejections.
Trinity Repertory Company artistic director Oskar Eustis and Bard College theater professor JoAnne Akalaitis both said they turned down offers from Yale earlier this year. Eustis reportedly agreed to stay with Trinity in Providence, R.I., after the theater’s management offered him a pay raise and Akalaitis said she did not want to live in New Haven.
Yale held other fruitless negotiations with the University of Washington’s Jon Jory and American Conservatory Theater artistic director Carey Perloff.
Levin said yesterday he was delighted that Bundy had accepted his offer.
“[Bundy] has exceptional leadership skills, and he’s done a great job in Cleveland,” Levin said. “He inspires those who work with him and for him. He’s highly intelligent, and he makes great things happen.”
Bundy said Yale approached him about the position in mid-July, and he accepted Levin’s offer last week.
In addition to his duties at Great Lakes, Bundy is an adjunct professor in the theater department at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Bundy said he would commute between New Haven and his current home in Cleveland over the course of the coming year and will move to New Haven next fall. He will be responsible for the Rep’s 2002-2003 season program and said he hoped to have the entire schedule planned by February.
Bundy spent his undergraduate days at Harvard and then trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He followed that by earning a master’s degree from the drama school here in 1995 and going on to work as a actor.
Levin said Yale took such a long time to find Bundy because he is newer to the theater world than some veterans.
“We didn’t really seek out anyone who applied,” he said. “We sought out the best in American theater. It took a long time to seek out candidates. Bundy, by his relative youth, was not the first choice that came to mind.”