In the Loop
Faculty News : Jul 12, 2021

Cultural sociologist and arts scholar joins UF College of the Arts as new associate dean for research and strategic initiatives

Dr. Sophia Krzys Acord joins the University of Florida College of the Arts as associate dean for research and strategic initiatives.  

Effective July 1, Acord will facilitate the college’s body of research and artistic practice, especially as it relates to the faculty’s internal research and external fellowship, residency, and grant funding portfolio. She will also manage college-level initiatives—including the implementation of its strategic plan—and oversee accreditation and program reviews.  

“Sophia is a humanistic social science scholar whose research has focused on the arts and its transformative role in society,” says Dean Onye Ozuzu. “She brings a wealth of expertise in research, grant-making, and interdisciplinary collaborations strategy to the College of the Arts. I look forward to her contributions to our college community in how she will catalyze our faculty’s research, the implementation of our Meta-Strategy, and more.” 

Acord will build upon the college’s strategic and mission-driven organizational structure, which has seen recent streamlining and updating of academic assessment processes and a 200% increase in sponsored research in the past 5 years. 

“Artists play a critical role in harnessing emerging technologies to build a more just and equitable world,” Acord says. “The College of the Arts Meta-Strategy lays out the commitment from college faculty, staff, students, and administrators to work together to give our colleagues and students the resources and scaffolding they need to do this in their lives and work.”  

Acord comes to the College of the Arts from the UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere where she served as its first associate director for 11 years. At the center, she managed internal funding programs, annual speaker series, humanities fellowship- and grant-seeking support, and the Mellon Intersections project.  

During her time at UF, Acord co-founded the UF Digital Humanities Working Group, Imagining America Working Group, Impact of Materials on Society course project, and Humanities and the Sunshine State Summer Programs for high school students and educators.  

As a lecturer in the UF Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law, Acord taught courses on visual research methods, arts and social change, science and technology studies, and social theory. 

A cultural sociologist by training, Acord’s research examines the production of knowledge in the arts and humanities through an “arts in action” approach that examines the social dimensions of artistic engagement among individuals and communities. She says this perspective focuses on the engagements people make with aesthetic forms every day, whether as creators, mediators, or consumers. 

“Whether we see the arts as a space for entertainment, investigation, communication, or healing, when we participate in the arts we are constantly building and reshaping our social worlds,” Acord says. “Artistic activities are places we come together virtually and physically, but they may also be places we advance our own self projects. Seen this way, the arts provide opportunities for us to posit and trial new ways of being. This work is key to institutional and cultural transformation.” 

Acord’s work on interrogating the role of emotion and embodiment in curating contemporary art has appeared in The Journal of Visual Arts Practice, Esse: Art + Opinions, and ARCO Contemporary Art, and other scholarly books and journals. She has also published research in the areas of museum studies, sociology of the arts, higher education, mobile technologies, and qualitative research methods.  

She was principal investigator, co-principal investigator, and key personnel on grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Florida Humanities Council, and Southeastern Consortium.

Prior to UF, Acord was a specialist researcher at the University of California, Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education, where she managed The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Future of Scholarly Communication Project that established best practices for implementing digital technologies in academic publication, collaboration, and public engagement. She has also held research fellowships at the Yale University Center for Cultural Sociology and the École des Mines Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation and was a founding editor of the peer-reviewed open-access journal Music and Arts in Action.  

Acord received her Ph.D. in Sociology and Master of Research Methodology from the University of Exeter and her Bachelor of Arts from Swarthmore College.  

She has served in various art worlds including the French Ministry of Culture, contemporary art institutions, theatrical stage crews, applied drama in schools, a state arts education organization, and a performing arts archive.  

“I am tremendously excited by the leadership the College of the Arts is taking at the university, nationally, and internationally to position artists, researchers, and educators as catalysts for equity,” Acord says. “I look forward to working with students, staff, faculty, and community partners both locally and internationally to demonstrate ways of being with and helping one another through the arts.”