Institute director resigns to start arts organization

By Campus Editor

Jane Saks, executive director of the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women & Gender in the Arts & Media, has resigned after nine years.

Saks said she felt it was time to leave and develop an entity that is focused on arts, culture and social change.

Saks said she will miss the relationships she formed with her colleagues at Columbia.

“I was happy [about] my years of experience and wonderful work at the college,” Saks said. “Being part of the college is always something that you’re going to miss.”

Saks was hired in 2005 to create the institute, and has since collaborated with artists within and outside of Columbia as well as produced approximately 25–50 programs annually, she said.

Saks said her most significant contributions include collaborating with more than 100 international and domestic partners and creating fellowship programs to bring in talented artists.

“The institute really became a portal and a real collaborator to bring national work and international work to the college,” Saks said. “Some of the fellows that I selected to work with at the Institute have [gone] on to win Pulitzer Prizes, MacArthur Genius [Grants] and Guggenheims.”

Deborah Holdstein, departing dean of the Liberal Arts & Science Department, said Saks worked closely with her to create fellowships for faculty members. Saks had a talent for bringing together disparate groups of people and producing innovative ideas, Holdstein said. Some of the most recent recipients of the School of Liberal Arts & Sciences/Institute Fellowship include Amy Hawkins, associate professor in the English Department and Erin McCarthy and Katharine Hamerton, associate professors in the Humanities, History & Social Sciences Department, she said.

“In addition to being highly creative and having outstanding ideas, Jane and I were able to work very well together to create practical and beneficial outcomes,” Holdstein said. Holdstein said she could not confirm who will take Saks’ place as executive director.

“I will certainly miss her as a colleague, and I hope she will keep in very close touch with all of us,” Holdstein said.

Saks said Columbia’s diversity—in terms of artwork and creativity—and dedication to their work attracted her to the college.

“There’s absolutely no educational institution in Chicago that is as diverse [as Columbia] in every possible way,” Saks said. “To me, that makes it one of the richest places [to be].”