About Cornish

Meet the President


President Dr. Nancy Uscher.


“Cornish College of the Art is an inventive, inspiring institution and has been for a century.  Cornish will continue to provide distinguished programs of excellence to its students.  In the coming years, I anticipate that the opportunities at Cornish for cross-disciplinary artistic research and practice will be unparalleled.”

Dr. Nancy J. Uscher has been the president of Cornish College of the Arts since August 1, 2011. She is the first woman to hold that position since Nellie Cornish, who founded the school in 1914.

A native of Connecticut, Dr. Uscher grew up in White Plains, New York. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music with distinction from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, a master’s degree in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and a Ph.D. in music from New York University. She is also an Associate of the Royal College of Music in London, where she spent her junior year in college.

For two decades Dr. Uscher traveled the world teaching and performing as a concert violist, including a number of years leading the viola section of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, before she transitioned to a full-time career in academia. Her performance career spanned six continents and included radio broadcasts, recitals, festival performances and guest appearances in conducting master classes and as a resident artist at a range of institutions.  She has performed as a solo artist for the BBC and has participated in the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Casals Festivals in Puerto Rico and Mexico.

She spent 12 years at the University of New Mexico in a variety of positions, including associate provost for academic affairs, professor of music and chairperson of the Music Department. She also taught courses in the Women’s Studies Program and created the Center for the Arts in Society, a think tank to examine arts-related public policy issues and to explore the arts as a catalyst for social change.

From 2004 to 2011, Dr. Uscher was the provost and chief academic officer of the California Institute of the Arts as well as a faculty member of its Herb Alpert School of Music.

She is the author of dozens of articles and two books: Your Own Way in Music: A Career and Resource Guide and The Schirmer Guide to Schools of Music and Conservatories Throughout the World.

During her years at Cornish College of the Arts President Uscher has overseen the strategic growth of innovative academic programs, community partnerships and international activities, as well as the growth of the campus. Among the new campus facilities are the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, under Cornish's management with a 20-year lease with the city of Seattle, and the recently opened 20-story Cornish Commons residence hall and live/learn center, the first new (ground up) Cornish building since 1921.