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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

New Costume Design Position Brings Opportunities for UMass Students and Theater Department


The new costume design professor, Rafael Jaen, sits in front of displays of his designs for an upcoming show.



Starting in the fall, the performing arts department will, for the first time, have a full time costume design professor.

“It’s a real big deal,” said Department Chair of Performing Arts Dr. Robert Lublin. Dr. Lublin, with other professors in the theater arts department, made up the search committee for the hiring of the new professor, Rafael Jaen.

“What makes Rafael Jaen so pressing is that he has trained students in the past many times. After they’ve taken his classes, they then get internships and jobs working in costume design in Boston,” said Dr. Lublin.

Jaen has been designing costumes for over 25 years and has won numerous theater awards for his designs. Since 1990 he has worked as a professor at Emerson College’s Costume Designer & Design-Tech Faculty and as a freelance costume designer.

Students participated in the process of selecting the costume design professor. The search committee allowed students to be present for each of the three portfolio presentations. Afterwards, the committee discussed with students which of the 60 candidates for the position they preferred.

Student Bailey Sigmon felt this discussion served as an indication of how hands on her education is at UMass Boston.

“The fact that they include our opinions as students is really encouraging. It’s good to know that because we are the ones receiving the education they care. They care to know what we think because we are the ones who are paying to be here,” said Sigmon.

The new full-time costume design position will give students the opportunity to focus on costume design within the theater major.

“Students will be trained and be able to go on to graduate school for MFAs and go on for careers in costume design. They couldn’t get that training before we had a faculty member devoted to this area of study,” said Dr. Lublin.

Before the new position, someone would be hired periodically to teach individual classes. Full productions would also hire someone for the costume design aspect of the plays. Now, Dr. Lublin says the four areas for a solid theater program are covered.

“The major positions you need to make up a strong theater program is a dramaturg, an acting directing specialist, a lighting set designer, and costume design,” said Dr. Lublin. He added, “Now with this hire we’re really closing the loop. This is going to be a really exciting place to study theater.”