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The RCA Appoints Dr Rathna Ramanathan as Dean of Communication

The Royal College of Art has announced the appointment of Dr Rathna Ramanathan as Dean of the School of Communication.

Currently Head of the Visual Communication Programme, Dr Ramanathan joined the College in 2015. Since her arrival, she has led an experienced staff team to successfully restructure and revalidate Visual Communication, delivering effective teaching and learning models that are dynamic, challenging and have enhanced the student experience. Previously she led the Design & Interaction subject area in the Graphic Communication Programme at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

Dr Ramanathan is a Reader in Visual Communication, and her research is focused on intercultural graphic communication – specifically multicultural and experimental forms of the book, and publishing and typographic practices with a South Asian focus. She leads the research and typographic book design for the Murty Classical Library of India, a 100-year publishing project at Harvard University and regularly publishes, delivers talks and keynotes, and joins international panels of expertise.

Professor Naren Barfield, Deputy Vice-Chancellor commented: ‘After an international search for a Dean of Communication, I am delighted that we have selected a candidate with the energy, vision and commitment to lead and transform the School of Communication over the coming years, and to align with the RCA’s ambitions for innovation, entrepreneurship, and wider relevance and impact, both in the UK and internationally. Rathna impressed the search committee with her radical vision for Communication, and her commitment to inclusive models of postgraduate delivery that will promote intercultural dialogue and link the student experience to cutting-edge research. At the edge of the fourth industrial revolution, I’m delighted that Rathna has agreed to serve as Dean during this period of growth and academic innovation, and to link Communication with advances in human knowledge everywhere. I would also like to pay tribute to Professor Neville Brody, the College’s longest-serving Dean, who steps down after seven years leading the School of Communication. I am delighted that he remains with the RCA as Professor of Visual Communication.’

Dr Paul Thompson, Vice-Chancellor, said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Rathna to the senior leadership team.’

Dr Ramanathan commented, ‘In a world of false news, rising inequalities and global challenges, it is imperative that we change the narrative of communication. I am excited to work with my colleagues to realise a vision that situates human and non-human communication within the frames of culture, community, consciousness, commercialism and creativity. Building on the expansive vision set in place by Professor Neville Brody, I look forward to leading our School in delivering an inclusive and transformative education that has student experience at its core. As an international academic, I am proud to lead a critical academic initiative in decolonising the curriculum across the College.’

The College will begin the process to appoint a successor to Dr Ramanathan as Head of Programme for Visual Communication with immediate effect. In the meantime, Rathna, in collaboration with the Programme team, will continue to lead Visual Communication to ensure continuity of student experience.