New UNCSA chancellor to bring creative skills to post

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M. Lindsay Bierman (center) greets people after a welcome ceremony held for him Friday, April 11, 2014. (Lauren Carroll/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Trained as an architect and schooled in the competitive world of magazine publishing, M. Lindsay Bierman has a blueprint for success at the UNC School of the Arts.

Bierman, 48, the editor in chief of Southern Living magazine, was elected UNCSA’s chancellor Friday by the board of governors for the 17-campus university system. He will assume his new duties Aug. 1, succeeding James Moeser, who has served as interim chancellor since John Mauceri stepped down from the post last June.

His plans include expanding sources of financing, raising the school’s profile and empowering its educators.

Bierman, who lives in Birmingham, Ala., where Southern Living is headquartered, said that his first priority as chancellor will be fundraising. He plans to bring city and business leaders together to find public and private sources of financing for the school.

His second priority will be raising the school’s visibility, not only within the state and region but also nationally and internationally. That includes improving the school’s website.

“The website is the front door to the school,” said Bierman, who will be paid $255,000 a year. “I’d like to get student work there, front and center.”

A Michigan native, Bierman received a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Virginia in 1993. He studied at the Institut d’Études Sciences Politiques de Paris and completed internships at Sotheby’s, the National Gallery of Art and on Capitol Hill.

Bierman said that he can’t wait to meet the students but that he doesn’t plan to insert himself into the classroom.

“We have incredible deans, and we don’t have to be interfering with their work,” he said. “I want to empower them and help them to succeed.”

In recommending Bierman to the board of governors, UNC President Tom Ross said, “Lindsay Bierman brings to the role of chancellor a rare combination of business and management acumen, strategic thinking, and innovation and creativity.

“An architect by training, he has accumulated a wealth of leadership experience as an award-winning designer, magazine editor and business executive. A passionate and life-long advocate for the arts, he has proven himself to be a resourceful, collaborative leader who pushes creative boundaries, expects nothing short of excellence, and leads by example.”

Bierman has served as editor in chief of Southern Living since August 2010, and has plenty of experience working with creative people.

“It’s one of the things I love most about this opportunity,” he said. “I’ve been working with photographers, designers, stylists and chefs. I’m looking forward to getting back to my roots as an artist.

“This position aligns with the values that I learned from my parents.”

His parents have a nonprofit organization in San Diego called Advocates for Classical Music that strengthens music education in public schools.

Businessman Rob King, who chaired the search committee for the new chancellor, said of Bierman: “He is an exceptional businessman with the soul of an artist.”

In January, the search committee narrowed its field to 10 candidates. After meeting with them, the committee brought five on to campus for more in-depth interviewing and recommended three finalists to Ross.