Tarble director to retire

Samantha Middendorf, Entertainment Editor

Following 28 years of working as the director of the Tarble Arts Center, Michael Watts is planning to retire.

Watts said changes in the pension system have pushed him to retire.

“Technically, I retired in May with the understanding that I would continue on working through January, so that would give Interim Dean Glenn Hild the time to do a national search for a new director,” he said.

Tarble and its support system have provided Watts with memories he said would last him beyond his retirement.

“The support that the Tarble family has given to the Tarble Arts Center over the years, from its inception through today, is just phenomenal,” Watts said.  “To be in a position where you’re able to think, ‘OK, what can we do next to improve and elevate what the Center’s doing,’ is just phenomenal.”

Not only did the support of the Tarble family encourage Watts throughout his time as director, but also the people he encountered throughout Eastern left a lasting impact.

“The other thing I will miss is working with the people here, especially the people in the College of Arts and Humanities advisory council, chairs and the deans,” he said. “It’s a great thing to go into work and to know so many people share your values, aspirations and your goals to serve the greater good.”

Students also managed to change Watts’ outlook when it came to choosing new exhibitions and discovering what kinds of work is popular from year to year.

“You have new students every year,” he said.  “You can’t just sit around. Everyone’s asking questions, provoking you, prodding you, which makes you question the things you’ve been doing and makes you see how their perspective’s different from when you first got involved.”

Watts said he would certainly miss the combinations of the various different support groups.

“I never dreamed that I would have that kind of support when I came to the position, so that’s been a remarkable situation throughout my career,” he said.

Watts is planning his retirement along with his wife, Barb, so that they will have more time to enjoy together.

“One of things I’d like to do is take some classes at Eastern that I’ve been meaning to take, but haven’t had the time to do it,” he said.  “I’d also like to travel more.”

However, Watts said those are just short-term plans, and he has yet to plan too far into the future.

“It’s all happened so fast, and I’m still really engaged with working, so I haven’t quite had time to think of long term plans,” he said.

The College of Arts and Humanities is undergoing a national search to find a new director of Tarble.  The college plans to have made a selection by January 2015.

 Samantha Middendorf (@samantha_EE) can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]