Dr. Vendryes leaves York for Tufts – York College / CUNY

Dear York College Congregation:

It is with mixed feelings that I announce that Dr. Margaret Rose Vendryes, a veteran professor at York College Fine Arts and a dedicated “York citizen,” is leaving to become dean of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts is one Private university founded in 1852. The School of the Museum of Fine Arts on historic Fenway in Boston was acquired by Tufts in 2015.

In her long career in York, Dr. Vendryes has contributed so much more to our academic enterprise than her teaching skills. Her expertise includes historian, visual artist, curator and educator both inside and outside the formal classroom.

She was Chair of the Performing and Fine Arts Department for five years (2015-2021) and has long been Director of the Fine Arts Gallery in York. As an academic, she has been a professor of art history for over twenty years and publishes in her field as the author of the book, Barthé: A Life in Sculpture, (University Press of Mississippi, 2008), which was the first full biography of the African American sculptor Richmond Barthé.

Dr. Vendryes is committed to the diversity / inclusion cause in all of its variations including race, gender, LGBQT + community members, celebrating diversity and promoting inclusion. Under her direction, York College’s Fine Arts Gallery expanded its audience focus to include the outside Queens community. She founded the Southeast Queens Biennial and the upcoming first Jamaica Summer Artist Residency at York College. Dr. Vendryes has served in senior positions on many campus-wide committees, including the Committees on Writing Across the Curriculum and the Africana Resource Center. She was also a faculty liaison to the LGBTQ + faculty association for a while.

As a visual artist, she describes herself as “preoccupied with depictions of gender, race and cultural identities in the African diaspora”. Especially her long-lasting painting and mixed media series The African Diva Project is “informed through her engagement with African aesthetics and popular Afro-American music and visual culture”. Hyperlocally, reproductions of her African Diva paintings have been displayed by the MTA along Jamaica Avenue and in exhibitions at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.

The loss of Professor Vendryes of the York family will be enormous. As we celebrate this great news for her, we are sad to have lost our collaboration with such a valuable colleague. She has served York and its students with passion and devotion; and provided the management of a large African art collection bequeathed by York alumnus Victor E. Richards ’79. The impressive collection can be seen inside and outside the Africana Resource Center in the 3B corridor.

In spring 2016, Professor Vendryes curated an exhibition of the collection and invited the late Mr Richards to discuss his collection history and the significance of the pieces for him personally and historically. His interest in the subject began as an art history major at York College in the late 1970s. The exhibition “Gods, Oracle’s Ancestors: The Victor Richards Collection of African Art at York College” is available online at gods-oracles-ancestors.

And although Professor Vendryes will miss York, she embraces this new experience. “This is a new wrinkle in my professional life and has given me the opportunity to make a difference in the training of artists,” she says.

Please join me in thanking Professor Vendryes for her long service to York College and wishing her all the best on her new adventure. Currently on sabbatical, we’ll only see her on campus occasionally this spring semester, but we want her to know how invaluable her services have been to college.


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