Baylor University Art Historian Nathan Elkins Has Been Named Director of Allbritton Art Institute

July 15, 2020
NathanBaylor University art historian Nathan T. Elkins, Ph.D.

Retiring director Paul McCoy says Elkins has ‘an enviable history of teaching excellence and an impeccable track record in research and publication’

Contact: Terry Goodrich, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-644-4155
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WACO, Texas (July 15, 2020) – Baylor University and the Allbritton Art Institute have announced the appointment of Nathan T. Elkins, Ph.D., FSA, as director of the Allbritton Art Institute effective Aug. 1.

Elkins, associate professor of art history and a specialist in Greek and Roman art and archaeology in the department of art & art history at Baylor University, is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, a Fellow of the American Numismatic Society (New York) and a Fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society (London).

Elkins succeeds Paul McCoy, professor of art and Ceramist-in-Residence, who is retiring after nine years as the Institute’s director and 34 years of service to Baylor’s department of art & art history.

“Every one of the faculty and staff in the Allbritton Art Institute is committed to the vision of our benefactors, Barbara Allbritton and the late Joe Allbritton, and I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to work with these great faculty and staff in the fulfillment and furtherance of that vision,” Elkins said. “Since the Institute’s inception, the generosity of the Allbrittons has had an impact on hundreds of art and art history students through fully subsidized national and international field-study courses, as well as tens of thousands of students from across the university in our introductory courses in art history for non-majors.

“Transformative and experiential education is a hallmark of undergraduate study at Baylor, and that stands at the center of the Allbritton Art Institute’s mission,” Elkins said. “Material and visual culture provide a unique lens into the study of present and past societies, and the rigor of art-historical study cultivates deep and critical thinkers. Standing before the great works of art and the monuments of Europe with our faculty is an intellectual experience that adds depth, dimension and context that cannot be fully replicated in the traditional classroom setting. I look forward to working with our team to develop and execute further initiatives to support experiential education in art history and to enhance the education of as many Baylor students as we can.”

“The Institute is thrilled to have Nathan Elkins at the helm,” said Allbritton Art Institute President Barbara Allbritton. “Not only does he come to us with exceptional pedigree and expertise in the world of art history, but Nathan brings a vast knowledge and spirit to the classroom, combined with leadership skills and the enthusiastic determination to fulfill the Institute goals and expectations. Joe Allbritton would be proud to have such an accomplished scholar and educator onboard.”

Jeanne Lawver, administrative director for the Allbritton Art Institute in Houston, said that she is “delighted to be working with such an exciting addition to our staff. I know we have some wonderful achievements ahead for the Institute with Nathan in charge.”

Paul McCoy said that Elkins has “an enviable history of teaching excellence and an impeccable track record in research and publication. The breadth and depth of his academic and professional experience provide him with an expansive foundation and perspective as he steps into this new leadership position. The uniqueness of the Allbritton Art Institute within academia and its impact on the lives of its students requires oversight that is both innovative and thoroughly grounded in the realities of contemporary academic and professional dynamics. Dr. Elkins comes to this position with a full toolbox, and I have no doubt that his efforts will yield great things for his students and Baylor University.”

Elkins holds a B.A., magna cum laude, in archaeology and classical studies from the University of Evansville; an M.A., with distinction, in the City of Rome from the University of Reading, England; and a Ph.D. in Greek and Roman art and archaeology from the University of Missouri. Before he joined the Baylor faculty in 2011, Elkins held teaching and research posts at the Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Germany, and at the Yale University Art Gallery.

In addition to his strong commitment to teaching and research, Elkins’ background includes serving on Baylor’s Faculty Senate and its executive committee, and two years of service as director of Baylor’s Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) for the arts, humanities and social sciences at Baylor University. He is active professionally, serving two terms on the Cultural Heritage Policy Committee of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA); editor (ancient world) of the American Journal of Numismatics, an international peer-reviewed journal published annually by the American Numismatic Society; and as a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors at the University of Evansville.

He regularly speaks before the Cultural Property Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of State to advocate for the protection of ancient coins and antiquities from looting in international agreements. He consults often with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and Immigration and Customs Enforcement on looted and smuggled antiquities. In 2017-2018, he served on the advisory board for an international collaborative research project entitled “Countering the Looting of Antiquities from Syria and Iraq” that was spearheaded by the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University and funded by a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State.

He is the author of several books, with the most recent “A Monument to Dynasty and Death: The Story of Rome’s Colosseum and the Emperors Who Built It” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019). Elkins teaches the art history survey sequence and upper-level courses on Greek and Roman art and archaeology in the department of art & art history. He has involved several students in his own research and mentored others in their own, and several have accompanied him at the excavations of the late-Roman synagogue at Huqoq, Israel.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 18,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The Allbritton Art Institute, a Texas nonprofit corporation and affiliate of Baylor University, was established on Oct. 31, 1997, by Joe and Barbara Allbritton to promote the appreciation and comprehensive study of the artist and art movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. It includes classes in 18th-century and contemporary art history. The Allbritton Art Institute has offered classes on the Baylor University campus since the fall of 1998. As an educational organization, the Institute employs executive staff and teaching faculty (full and part time). The Institute offers a regularly scheduled curriculum where students can enroll and complete Institute courses that are applicable towards a Baylor bachelor’s degree in art history, studio art, related fields of study, electives, as well as Introduction to Art classes specifically for non-art majors. Institute programs are offered in conjunction with Baylor University’s Department of Art & Art History. Institute educational objectives include opportunities for art students to engage, study, research and view original works of art both domestically and abroad via funded research travel studies; academic scholarships for undergraduate art students; research grants for art faculty scholarship; and bringing distinguished artists and guest lecturers to the Baylor campus.

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