The “This Is Us” star will begin her role on July 1 and report to Provost Anthony K. Wutoh.
“It is a privilege to serve in this capacity and to work with the Howard University administration, faculty and students in reestablishing the College of Fine Arts,” Rashad said in a statement.
The esteemed actress graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in fine arts from Howard University in 1970.
She starred as Clair Huxtable in “The Cosby Show,” which ran on NBC from 1984 to 1992.
Rashad, 72, has served as guest lecturer and adjunct faculty member, conducting master’s-level classes at many colleges, universities and arts organizations. The list includes Howard, New York University, Vassar College, Carnegie Mellon and The Black Arts Institute of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.
She was the first recipient of the Denzel Washington Chair in Theater at Fordham University.
Rashad said she received a call that a group of her students had auditioned for and been accepted into the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer program, but would not be attending because they couldn’t afford it.
“I made a phone call to a friend of mine, and he called me back and we talked about it for about five minutes, and he said, ‘OK, I got this money,” Rashad said.
That friend was Denzel Washington.
Of Wednesday’s announcement, Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said in a statement, “I can think of no individual better suited to take on this role than Ms. Phylicia Rashad.”
“As we reintroduce our campus community and the world at large to Howard’s College of Fine Arts, the dean will play an instrumental role in ensuring an auspicious beginning for this reestablished institution,” Frederick said.
“Given Ms. Rashad’s reputation as well as her capabilities and impressive list of accomplishments, she will undoubtedly empower the college to transcend even our incredibly high expectations. Under her leadership, Howard will continue to inspire and cultivate the artists and leaders who will shape our niche and national cultures for generations to come.”