Visual arts head steps down

Visual Arts Department Chair Arthur Tobias will be stepping down at the end of this year after 17 years of heading the department. Cheri Gaulke will be assuming the position next year.

Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts decided to “give someone else an opportunity to make their mark on the department,” Gaulke said after Huybrechts asked her if she would be interested in the position.

Tobias, who is also a potter and sculptor, began working at Harvard School for Boys two years before the merger and became the first chair of the upper school Visual Arts Department at Harvard-Westlake.

“[It’s] the best teaching job for an artist anywhere,” said Tobias said. During his time as department chair, Tobias “increased rigor in the curriculum, introduced networked computers, supervised the design and construction of the Feldman-Horn complex,” he said. He also eliminated most semester-long art courses to satisfy the UC requirements.

“On FAC, Arthur looks backward and forward at the same time, providing the group with institutional memory, terrific ideas and some choice opinions,” Huybrechts said in an email to the upper school staff.

According to Tobias, he had been “touting Cheri as the most likely candidate” to step in as department chair after hearing of Huybrecht’s decision. Gaulke began teaching at Westlake School for Girls in 1988. She currently teaches five Video Art and Advanced Video Art II classes, but will have to teach one fewer class when she becomes department chair.

“Initially, I don’t anticipate any big changes,” Gaulke said. “We are a very highly functioning department, but I am excited about possible collaborations in the future such as community service opportunities, partnerships between Performing Arts and our video program.”

“I highly value Dr. Tobias’ leadership in our department, and I often consult with him,” Gaulke said. “He is level-headed, practical, smart and he really cares about our students. I will continue to seek his advice as I venture into this new territory.”