Joseph Seipel began his career in higher education with a one-year contract at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1974. Since that time, his experience has run the gamut of academic roles from instructor to full professor at VCUarts including 17 years as chair of the Department of Sculpture, and eight and a half years as a senior associate dean and director of graduate studies. After a two year hiatus as a vice president at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Seipel returned to VCU as dean of the School of the Arts. In 2016 Seipel retired and now holds the title of Dean Emeritus for the VCU School of Arts.
At VCUarts, leading both the Richmond and the Qatar campus, he has been honored by working with some of the most amazing, committed, and enthusiastic faculty in arts higher education. Their commitment to teaching, learning and creative research and scholarship has given VCUarts recognition as an important and forward-thinking institution. During his tenure as chair of the Department of Sculpture, US News and World Report ranked the Department’s graduate program number one in the nation and now as dean and VCUarts remains the highest ranked public arts program in the country and has moved up in ranking to second overall nationally.
During his tenure at VCU School of the Arts, he was pivotal in the design and construction of several notable buildings. Those included the Fine Arts Building, the Depot Building and the VCU Institute for Contemporary Art, (Steven Holl Associates, expected opening 2018)
Professor Seipel received his Bachelor of Science degree in Art from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1970, and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Maryland Institute’s Rinehart School of Sculpture in 1973. He is a long term member the Mid-America College Art Association board, served on the board of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans, served three terms on the board of the National Council of Arts Administrators, and two terms as president of the organization. He served as the Virginia representative to the Board of Directors for the Southeastern College Art Association and on the board of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts as well as the board of the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design. He has been active in the cultural affairs of the City of Richmond as a founding Board Member of the 1708 Gallery, its first president and served two terms on the City of Richmond Urban Design Committee. In 1995 he was appointed by Governor Douglas Wilder to the Task Force for Promotion of the Arts in Virginia, and in 1997 he was appointed by Governor George Allen to the five member Virginia Art and Architecture Review Board. At the request of Virginia Governor Mark Warner, he served as an advisor to the Capital Square Civil Rights Memorial Commission and in 2006 was appointed to the Capital Square Civil Rights Memorial Foundation. In 2008 Virginia Governor Tim Kaine requested his services as the arts consultant to the Public Service Memorial Committee. Seipel has been the recipient of both the School of the Arts and the Virginia Commonwealth University Award for Distinguished Service. He is also the recipient of the International Sculpture Center’s prestigious Sculpture Educators Award for his lifetime achievements in sculpture education. In May 2007, Mr. Seipel was honored with an Outstanding Alumni Award at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he now serves on the University of Wisconsin’s Art Board of Visitors.
His own studio production is monumental in scale and ranges from conceptually-based objects to multimedia pieces and robotics. He has exhibited in numerous national and international exhibition venues include, among others, exhibitions in New York City, Peru, Baltimore, and Richmond.