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Karen Chandler

Director and Associate Professor

Address: Simons Center for the Arts, Room 322
Office Hours: By appointment
Phone: 843.953.5474
Personal Website:

KAREN CHANDLER has taught in the Arts Management Program since 1999 and has taught arts management courses in both the undergraduate program and master's program in public administration. She is also Co-Founder/Principal of the Charleston Jazz Initiative (CJI), a multi-year study of the jazz tradition in Charleston and South Carolina.   

From 2001-2004, she served as director of the College of Charleston's Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. Dr. Chandler received her Ph.D. in Studies in Arts and Humanities from New York University, M.A. in music education from Columbia University-Teachers College in New York, and B.S. in music education from Hampton University.

Chandler formerly served as Director of the University of Virginia's African-American Cultural Center from 1983 to 1989 and then in the graduate program as an Assistant Professor of Arts Management at American University in Washington, DC from 1994-1999 before coming to the College of Charleston.

Chandler has served as an advisory and grants review panelist with arts councils and commissions around the country including the Coastal Community Foundation and the South Carolina Arts Commission. She also serves on numerous regional, state and local governing editorial and advisory boards including the Journal of Public Management and Social Policy, Rutgers University; Arts and History Commission, City of Charleston; South Carolina Arts Alliance; Charleston Concert Association, Roland Carter Institute for Studies in American Music, among others. She has been a longtime volunteer of the MOJA Arts Festival in Charleston.

Dr. Chandler has been the recipient of program and research grants in the humanities and performing arts from numerous funding agencies including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), The Humanities Council of South Carolina, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and Charleston Country Council, among others.

She is featured in "Charleston Jazz" - a documentary of The Big Picture - South Carolina Educational Television (2011), Mark Quinn, Producer.

Courses Taught


ARTM 200: Contemporary Issues in Arts Management
ARTM 310: Principles and Practices in Arts Management
ARTM 325: Understanding Creativity
ARTM 350: Fund Raising and Grant Writing for the Arts
ARTM 370: Arts Marketing and Public Relations
ARTM 400: Internship in Arts Management
ARTM 420: Policy in the Arts


PUBA 660: Contemporary Perspectives on Arts Management
PUBA 661: Advanced Arts Management

Honors and Awards

Dr. Chandler has been honored with several awards, fellowships and testimonials in recent years including the South Carolina Governor’s Award in the Humanities in 2012, the state’s highest award in the humanities given to an individual, and the Individual Research Award by the Arts Schools Network, a national association of secondary arts schools in the United States. She has also received a Testimonial Resolution by the City Council of Detroit, Michigan for her research on the life and musical career of James Jamerson, an Edisto Island and Charleston native and longtime Motown and jazz bassist; recipient of the “Jazz Citizenship Award” by the Jazz Artists of Charleston; MOJA Arts Festival Award in Education; the School of the Arts, Faculty of the Year ExCEL Award at C of C; Preserving Our Places in History Award given by the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission; “In Praise of Teaching” Award for Initiatives to Promote Undergraduate Research, C of C; and the Women of Achievement Award by the Women Faculty and Professional Association Award at the University of Virginia. Dr. Chandler has also appeared on the South Carolina Arts Commission’s “Forty Lists Project” – a compilation of people who have contributed to the development of the arts in South Carolina. 


Chandler's publications include “Jazz and its South Carolina Roots: A Jazz History and Education Model of the Charleston Jazz Initiative” published in JAZZed Magazine (May 2009); Curtain Up on the Friends: A History of the Friends of the Kennedy Center Volunteer Program published by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2006); Charleston: A Cradle of Jazz (ed., 2006); two articles in the Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society -- “’…But the Greatest of These Is Charity’: The Charleston Jazz Initiative’s Study of the Jenkins Orphanage Bands” (Winter 2005) and “Rethinking the Use of the Case Study in the Arts Management Classroom” (Winter 2000); and “Project on Management Studies in the Arts: A Paradigm for Case Studies in Arts Management” in the Theatre Management Journal (December 1997). More recently, she completed two essays titled “Prelude to Gershwin: Edmund Thornton Jenkins” in Porgy and Bess: A Charleston Story (2016) and “When Charity and Jazz Meet,” Spoleto Festival USA Program Book, 2016. She has been a book reviewer for the University of South Carolina Press, Oxford University Press, and The History Press, and is the executive producer of Legends (2010), a compact disc recording of live and studio jazz music with a 22-piece big band.