Head shot of Tiffany López, new director of ASU's School of Film, Dance and Theatre, in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Tiffany López joins Herberger Institute to lead School of Film, Dance and Theatre


Deborah Sussman Susser

The ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts has appointed Tiffany López as the director of its School of Film, Dance and Theatre. López, a professor at the University of California Riverside in the Department of Theatre, Film and Digital Production and an Endowed Chair in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, officially begins her tenure July 1.

“Dr. López has unbounded energy and vision and will be a great asset to our faculty and students,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute. “Her life, scholarship and creative work exemplify the values and aspirations of the New American University. She is the perfect person to lead us into the future as a place that deeply engages its community, prepares artists for many different social and professional roles, and values and advances the diverse cultural expression of our city, region and world.”

López brings more than 30 years of engagement within the arts community and 21 years as an academic to the role.

“This is an extraordinary time to join the School of Film, Dance and Theatre and the Herberger Institute as a visionary place for training global artists and leaders,” López said.

Her current scholarship on how theatre artists use their work to create shared vocabulary for processing violence and trauma connects with the institute’s ongoing work at the intersections of art, health, and youth and community development. López deeply understands how a university can be a force for cultural change and growth in the community. At UC-Riverside, she founded the Latina/o Play Project at the Culver Center for the Arts in Riverside to engage the community in telling its own story.  

“As an educator and artist, I’ve dedicated the length of my career to thinking about issues of diversity as intrinsic to cultivating excellence in the work that we do — that’s a very strong vision and a point of commitment I’ll bring to the position,” López said. “I’m excited to be a part of the initiatives and the transformative conversations underway within the Herberger Institute and the opportunity to actively engage both the mission and the impact of diversifying the arts.”

López, the first in her family to graduate high school and attend college, says she is a poster child for public education and is excited to work with the ASU student population. She attended community college with plans to manage a fast-food restaurant, but education set her on another path. With support from student programs and fellowships, she transferred to California State University, Sacramento, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English. She earned a master’s degree and a doctorate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. López’s honors include a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation. She is also a Fulbright Scholar.

“I understand how the path of obtaining and receiving an education is not only personally transformative but also transforms your entire family history by showing what’s possible,” she said. “And it transforms our communities by enabling us to give back and make a difference. The goal is to not just walk through new doors, but open them wider for others.”