Colette Pierce Burnette who has been serving as president of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, was appointed president of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. When she begins her new role on August 1, she will be the first Black woman to lead the museum in its 139-year history.
In July 2019, an associate curator who had been hired to diversify the museum’s collection, resigned citing a “toxic” and “discriminatory” culture. In 2021, the museum sent out job listing seeking a director who would work to maintain the museum’s “traditional, core, white art audience.”
Since that time the museum has instituted a program for antiracist and bias training and hiring reforms. It has also established a $20 million endowment to acquire works from underrepresented artists.
Dr. Pierce Burnette was named president of Huston-Tillotson University in 2015. She is the first woman to hold the position since the 1952 merger of Tillotson College and Samuel Huston College. Before being named president of Huston-Tillotson University, Dr. Pierce Burnette served on the staff at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, from 1999 to 2012 in such roles as vice president for administration, chief financial officer, vice president for information technology, and chief information officer. In 2012, she served as interim president of Pierce College in Puyallup, Washington. In 2021, she was a finalist for the presidency of Alabama A&M University.
Dr. Pierce Burnette is a graduate of Ohio State University. She holds a master’s degree in administration from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville and an educational doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.