The Art of College Presidency

Posted: September 16, 2011

Before she became president of Rosemont College in 2005, Dr. Sharon Latchaw Hirsh spent many years building a successful academic career as an art historian. The author of numerous books, exhibition catalogue essays and scholarly articles, her research has primarily focused on late 19th century Western European art. Her fifth book, Symbolism and Modern Urban Society, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2004. She has also served as a visiting fellow at numerous institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery of Art.

Though the demands of college presidency often drastically reduce time for academic pursuits, Dr. Hirsh still enjoys teaching in her field. She offers a coffee lecture each semester as part of Rosemont’s Forum, a program of non-credit courses and excursions for adult learners. Topics range from Renaissance art, to Impressionism, to Postmodernism.

In this semester’s course, “Early Renaissance Art,” Dr. Hirsh will guide students through the basic philosophical and religious perceptions expressed in Italian art of the 14th and 15th centuries. The works of artists including Donatello, Masccio and Botticelli will be highlighted. The course will be held December 7 in Rosemont’s Kaul Hall.

Dr. Hirsh’s expertise is now also available to a wider audience in a set of virtual courses titled “How to Look at and Understand Great Art.” Through six DVDs and an accompanying guidebook, she describes how to view art through the lenses of composition, perspective, line and other elements. More than 950 paintings, works of sculpture and pieces of graphic art are discussed. Hands-on studio demonstrations and 3-D animations also help students understand the visual language of art.

A 1970 Rosemont alumna, Sharon Latchaw Hirsh earned a bachelor's degree in history of art and studio art. She received her master's and doctoral degrees in art history from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971 and 1974 respectively. Beginning in 1974, Dr. Hirsh served on the faculty at Dickinson College and later held an endowed chair as the Charles A. Dana Professor of Art History. While at Dickinson, she served as Director of the Trout Gallery, and Chair of the Department of Art and Art History. She received the Ganoe Award for Inspirational Teaching in 1981 and the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1991.

Additional information about Dr. Hirsh’s upcoming coffee lecture for Rosemont’s Forum can be obtained by calling the Office of Non-Credit Programs at 610.527.0200 x3102 or visiting Registration will begin September 1. To learn more about “How to Look at and Understand Great Art,” visit

Last Updated: September 16, 2011