The Collegian
Friday, March 01, 2024

Paul Brohan joins UR community as executive director of the Modlin Center

<p>The fine arts building watches over the Westhampton Green.</p>

The fine arts building watches over the Westhampton Green.

Paul Brohan is the new executive director of the University of Richmond Modlin Center for the Arts, according to a Nov. 3 email sent to the UR community. 

As executive director, Brohan is responsible for overseeing operations and physical facilities as well as managing Modlin’s artistic vision and direction. Brohan said his goal is to identify a complementary vision across the center while collaborating with academic departments and art museums based in Modlin. 

Brohan began working at Modlin on Sept. 15. He succeeds Deborah Sommers, who stepped down when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Modlin's assistant director Shannon Hooker said. 

Brohan came to UR from the University of Iowa, where he worked as the programming director at the Hancher Auditorium. He has also worked at performing arts centers at the University of Maryland and Northwestern University. 

“A cumulative of experience has informed my kind of not only artistic view, but worldview, and given me a sense of what I feel is perhaps my best contribution to make at this point in my career,” he said. 

Brohan sees UR as a place where the arts can have an even deeper impact on the UR students and the community. He said the size of the university also appealed to him. 

“The smaller size of the University of Richmond makes me feel like things can be more immediate and flexible,” Brohan said.

Additionally, the geographic location of Modlin allows for greater collaboration with artists, he said. 

“The positioning, geographically, of Modlin -- this close to Philadelphia, this close to D.C. and this close to New York -- offers an opportunity to collaborate with artists here on our campus and in ways with our students that I think is more realizable and more immediate than someplace like the University of Iowa and something of its size,” Brohan said.

He added that he has been warmly welcomed and that community members have been open to collaboration as he has shared his vision for Modlin. 

That vision includes deeply embedding Modlin within the curriculum across campus while taking advantage of opportunities to integrate UR with the greater Richmond community. 

“I feel strongly that the Modlin Center is immensely well positioned to be a gateway to be that connection point between the campus and the community where it comes together,” Brohan said. 

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As for Brohan’s personal goals, he hopes to contribute toward raising UR’s profile as a liberal arts institution committed to the performing and fine arts, he said. 

Brohan has spent most of his time focusing on getting to know people and introducing himself across campus. Now, he feels it is time to start learning and exploring more about what the city of Richmond has to offer, Brohan said.

Brohan sees Richmond as a city with a rich cultural landscape which embodies vibrancy surrounding the arts and social change, he said. 

“Even though [Richmond is] not a huge city, like Philadelphia or D.C., it has a lot of the same things to offer,” Brohan added.

Moving forward with his time in Richmond, Brohan said he feels a real sense of opportunity in the ways he can create change within the Modlin Center and the greater campus community. 

Contact features writer Caitlin O'Hare at

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