Margaret Rose Vendryes, the incoming dean of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts, has passed away unexpectedly, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences James Glaser shared in a March 31 email to the Tufts community.
“Our community was anticipating her arrival with great excitement, and I was personally looking forward to working closely with her in the years to come,” Glaser wrote in the email. “While most of us only met her briefly, she made quite an impression and we are deeply saddened by this news.”
Vendryes was an art historian, curator and professor. She chaired the Department of Performing and Fine Arts at York College at the City University of New York and published the definitive biography of the Black American sculptor Richmond Barthé titled “Barthé: A Life in Sculpture.” She was also a visual artist who celebrated Black women performers’ power and agency in “The African Diva Project,” a series of paintings and mixed media created over the span of 15 years.
In an interview with TuftsNow earlier this year, Vendryes shared her hopes for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at the SMFA.
“I'm hoping that I can be the face of change,” she said in the interview. “As a Black, queer practicing artist, historian, and curator, I openly represent, and advocate for, these groups and professions.”
Speaking to the Daily in February, Glaser, Dina Deitsch, chief curator of the Tufts University Art Galleries and Dr. Kelli Morgan, director of curatorial studies at Tufts all said they looked forward to collaborating with Vendryes.
“We send sincere condolences from Tufts to her family and friends,” Glaser wrote in his March 31 email.
In the same email, Glaser encouraged students to reach out to the University Chaplaincy, Counseling and Mental Health Services, the Division of Student Diversity and Inclusion, the International Center and the Dean of Student Affairs Office if they are in need of support during this difficult time. Faculty and staff can also access support resources through the Tufts Employee Assistance Program and the University Chaplaincy.