Editor's note from John F. Burness, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations: Duke University has reached a severance agreement with former Duke University Museum of Art director Michael Mezzatesta. As part of the understanding, both parties have agreed that the university will issue the following release. Any questions regarding it should be referred to Dr. Mezzatesta.
DURHAM, N.C. -- President Nannerl O. Keohane announced Tuesday the naming by Duke University's Board of Trustees of Michael Mezzatesta, Ph.D., as The Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director Emeritus of the Duke University Museum of Art. Speaking of Mezzatesta's contribution to Duke warranting his recognition as director emeritus, President Keohane called him "a champion of the arts at Duke" and praised his "seminal role in the establishment of the new art museum."
Dr. and Mrs. Semans, longtime supporters of Duke and its museum, noted, "We are delighted by Duke's decision to recognize Michael Mezzatesta's essential role in the development and growth of the arts at Duke."
In addition to announcing the emeritus title for Mezzatesta, President Keohane added that he also has been named "Advisor for Construction of the Nasher Museum." Commenting on his role as an advisor to the construction of the new museum, she said, "We are pleased by his willingness to make his considerable expertise available as the museum project moves forward. Dr. Mezzatesta was instrumental in helping site the new museum and pick its architect, Rafael Vin."
Mezzatesta, who recently completed 17 years of service as director of Duke's Art Museum, will continue to serve as an adjunct professor in Duke's Department of Art and Art History.
Responding to the trustees' decisions to confer the director emeritus title, Mezzatesta commented: "Dr. and Mrs. Semans have been the museum's strongest supporters since its creation in 1969. I am deeply honored by a title which recognizes their contribution." In speaking about Duke's new museum, he added, "I look forward to the new museum's opening and will be pleased to assist in order to assure the project's successful conclusion."
During his time as director, Mezzatesta was responsible for the growth of Friends of the Art Museum, an organization devoted to the museum's support. That organization's immediate past president, Joseph Rowand, who worked with Mezzatesta for over a decade, said of him, "His significant and innovative contributions to the Duke University Museum of Art have transformed the museum's history. His continued role will help ensure the potential of its bright future."
Rafael Vin, architect of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, stated, "Dr. Mezzatesta was the best kind of client, engaged in the design process and committed to quality at every level. His input helped to shape the building's final form and I am so pleased that his contributions have been recognized and his advice for the project will be available."
Professor Kristine Stiles, associate professor in Duke University's Department of Art and Art History, noted, "His vision has shaped the museum for years to come."