School of Education News

Barry named UW-Madison's Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art

October 27, 2016

Associate Professor Lynda Barry, an award-winning author and cartoonist with the School of Education's Art Department, has been chosen as UW-Madison’s first recipient of the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art.

Barry is perhaps best known as the author of the nationally syndicated "Ernie Pook's Comeek," but her career is legendary. Spanning nearly 35 years, Barry has authored 21 books, worked as a commentator for National Public Radio, and had a regular monthly feature in Esquire, Mother Jones Magazine, Mademoiselle, and

After a highly decorated professional career, Barry was brought to UW-Madison in 2012 as an artist in residence at the Arts Institute.

Lynda Barry
Lynda Barry, an associate professor with the School
of Education's Art Department, is UW-Madison's
first Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art.
(Photo: Jeff Miller/University Communications)
Since joining the faculty of the Art Department three years ago, Barry has been in residence at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, where she has created a number of groundbreaking, interdisciplinary outreach projects.  Her research is recognized internationally and her teaching is a model of student-centered engagement.

“Lynda Barry is an extraordinary artist and first-rate teacher,” says School of Education Dean Diana Hess. “We are so pleased to award her the prestigious Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art.”

Barry considers creativity to be vital to one’s ability to make meaning and sense of the world. In the classroom, instead of acting as critic or evaluator, Barry sees herself as coach and cheerleader, encouraging and helping students to feel free to write, draw, think and invent in a way that they’ve never done before.

“Taken together, Barry's research and her teaching are seamlessly blended,” says Professor Douglas Rosenberg, who chairs UW-Madison’s Art Department. “Together they extend the Wisconsin Idea into a contemporary platform for the exploration of the overlap between science and art.”

More than a decade ago, distinguished UW-Madison alumni Jerome and Simona Chazen made a $20 million donation in support of the university’s art museum expansion. Formerly known as the Elvehjem Museum of Art, the institution was renamed in honor of the Chazens.

It was September 2015 when the couple pledged another $28 million gift to their alma mater, in the form of several valuable pieces of art from their private collection, an additional gift of $5 million for the Chazen Museum building, and $3 million to establish both the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art and the Simona and Jerome Chazen Distinguished Chair in Art History.

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