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When Student Becomes Teacher…

Art History Alumna to Lead Florence Graduate Program in Renaissance Art as Gary Radke says ‘Ciao’ to Syracuse University

Jul 22, 2014 | Article by: Sarah Scalese

Sally Cornelison G'93


In 1993, Sally Cornelison earned a master’s degree in art history from Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Her mentor at the time was none other than Gary Radke, the longtime director of the Florence Graduate Program in Renaissance Art, who later this year will step down from the role he’s held for nearly four decades. Cornelison, currently a professor at The University of Kansas and an expert in the history of Italian Renaissance art, will succeed Radke as professor of art history and director of the Florence Program, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, in the summer of 2015.

“I feel like my career has truly come full circle,” says Cornelison, who after receiving a master’s degree at Syracuse went on to earn a Ph.D. at the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London. “I loved being a student of art history and I look forward to teaching at the very place that helped launch my career.”

This won’t be Cornelison’s first professional experience at Syracuse University. In fact, in the past, she has served as teaching assistant, field trip coordinator and lecturer, as well as adjunct professor at the Florence campus. In Florence, she taught an undergraduate summer survey of Italian late medieval and Renaissance art. Cornelison also organized and lectured on field trips to cities and towns throughout Italy. These trips included visits to ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque sites.

Cornelison says the best way for students to learn about Italian Renaissance art is to experience it first-hand. “It’s not enough to read chapters, study pictures, and listen to faculty lectures. To truly understand the significance and historical value of each work, a student must see it in person and have the Italian language skills to carry out meaningful research. That’s one of the reasons I love the Syracuse Florence Program so much – it provides an opportunity to students that they otherwise may not have,” added Cornelison, who has also held faculty positions at Savannah College of Art and Design and Virginia Tech.

“The College of Arts and Sciences is thrilled that Sally has decided to join our esteemed faculty,” says Karin Ruhlandt, interim dean and distinguished professor of chemistry. “The Department of Art and Music Histories is one of the oldest and most highly regarded in the country and we feel quite honored to have someone of Sally’s stature joining the team. The College is the hub of the humanities and of interdisciplinary learning and with Sally’s versatile background, I am confident she’ll do great things.”

Learning from an expert like Cornelison will certainly be a welcomed opportunity for students pursuing a degree in her field. But equally excited are her future colleagues, especially Theo Cateforis, chair of the Department of Art and Music Histories and associate professor of music history and cultures.

“We will greatly miss Gary Radke, not only for his scholarly expertise and mentoring but his collegiality,” says Cateforis. “But, we’re fortunate and delighted to have found Sally, who I have no doubt will seamlessly transition into her new role and add her own twist to the teaching and research of Renaissance art. Not only is she a renowned leader in her field, she’s a former student of Syracuse University. The fact that she’ll rejoin the Syracuse University family as a member of the faculty serves as a testament to the quality and caliber of the program Gary has nurtured for the last 35 years. I look forward to working with Sally and am eager to watch her further enhance our Renaissance art history offerings.”

Though Cornelison will not formally join the Syracuse University faculty until next summer, she will be on campus in October for a daylong symposium titled New Perspectives on Renaissance Art. She will discuss the 16th-century Italian artist and architect Giorgio Vasari, who wrote the influential Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects

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Contact Information

Sarah Scalese
315-443-8085
sescales@syr.edu