CAM Welcomes Theo Edmonds as Associate Dean for Transdisciplinary Research & Innovation
A national search brings experience and leadership in arts, industry, and health to Denver.Alice Crogan | College of Arts & Media May 4, 2021
(University of Colorado Denver)–– The College of Arts & Media (CAM) proudly announces Theo Edmonds as the new Associate Dean for Transdisciplinary Research & Innovation. Edmonds’ expansive and rich background in healthcare, arts, cultural analytics, innovation and industry-university partnerships supports the college’s commitment to creative work, research, and scholarship and further positions CAM at the confluence of arts, technology, and commerce.
“Theo Edmonds was selected through a national search, to fill a role prioritizing equity and social justice, entrepreneurship, innovation, economic development, and other areas where CAM provides campus leadership,” says Laurence Kaptain, CAM Dean. “Holding degrees in the visual arts, public health, and law, he is credentialed as the new and emerging prototype of the 21st Century leader.”
Edmonds brings tremendous experience in intersecting the creative industries, academic endeavors, and the private sector. He comes to CAM from University of Louisville School of Public Health & Information Science where he founded and co-led the Center for Creative Placehealing–– a program dedicated to translating research into applied science programming through culture, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
In 2018, Edmonds assembled a National Science Foundation sponsored research team of artists, data scientists, and health professionals to create the Cultural Wellbeing Index (CWI). The CWI was validated through an industry-university partnership and awarded the University of Louisville’s 2020 Trailblazer Award for Research & Innovation. The CWI empirically assesses hope, trust, and belonging as proxy metrics for inclusion and wellbeing. The metrics are combined with quantitative measures of creativity, curiosity and compassion to form a set of cultural analytics capable of scientifically predicting many of the most important key indicators for organizations seeking to align cultural change management and innovation initiatives with the future of education and work.
The role of Associate Dean for Transdisciplinary Research & Innovation leads CAM’s research, scholarly, and creative activity, and develops external partnerships and funding. With Edmonds having earned a national reputation as a cultural innovator the list of connections, accolades and service he brings to CAM is impressive. This includes being named one of "50 People Changing the Face of the South" by Southern Living Magazine, sitting as a founding Vice-Chair of Civitas, the Ohio River Valley LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, and serving as Vice Chair of Americans for the Arts' Private Sector Council. His affiliations are likely to not only advance the reputation of CAM but support the economic activity of Denver through enhancing arts, health, and industry.
“I’m thrilled Theo will be joining the College of Arts and Media,” says Deborah Jordy, Executive Director of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District in Colorado. “He will bring energy and innovation to the creative sector in Colorado through his unique ability to weave together concepts of art, public health, equity, and inclusion.”
As events of 2020 and 2021 have shaped outlooks and mindsets, Edmonds says “this is a moment, not seen in generations, for us at CAM and within the creative sector to bravely expand our horizons, break down artificial boundaries and invest in creative, inclusive innovation.”
Edmonds’ leadership will focus on humanizing the future of work by significantly expanding partnership opportunities for CAM artists and creative industry professionals. “As the Colorado economy begins re-opening after COVID-19, I see immediate opportunities for CAM to work with leaders in public policy, engineering, technology, design, social innovation, research and the many business sectors important to the region’s future,” said Edmonds.
“The science of creativity is primed to take a giant leap forward in the coming decade,” Edmonds shared. “CAM, Denver and the state have a unique opportunity to lead on a global stage. A complex ecosystem of industries, educators, researchers, social entrepreneurs, resource providers, and participants are increasingly centered on the role of creativity in both business and society.”
Edmonds comes to CAM with a profound commitment to making the CAM community a place where creativity, research, innovation and people all flourish. His personal experience of growing up gay in Appalachia and once hiding who he was drives Edmonds to foster open environments where people can show up authentically and express all facets of who they are. As the Cultural Wellbeing Index indicates, openness to new experience and diversity of thought set the stage for breakthrough innovations to emerge.
Edmonds will be moving to Denver with his husband Josh Miller, the co-founder and CEO of IDEAS xLab, a nonprofit focused on arts, health and inclusion. He will begin his new position in CAM on July 1, 2021.