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Francie Ostrower

Francie  Ostrower

Professor of Public Affairs and Professor of Fine Arts (College of Fine Arts)

Contact Info

SRH 3.326

Office Hours

Monday 11:00am-12:00pm and by appointment

Francie Ostrower, Ph.D. is Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Department of Theatre and Dance, Director of the Portfolio Program in Arts and Cultural Management and Entrepreneurship, and Senior Fellow in the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service. Prior to joining the University of Texas in 2008, she was Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy.  Prior to that, she was a sociology faculty member at Harvard University. Dr. Ostrower received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University, where she also served as Associate Director of the Program on Nonprofit Organizations.  She has been a Visiting Professor at IAE de Paris/Sorbonne Graduate Business School and is an Urban Institute Affiliated Scholar.

Dr. Ostrower is currently Principal Investigator of Building Audiences for Sustainability Initiative: Research and Evaluation, a six-year study of audience-building activities commissioned and funded by The Wallace Foundation through a $3.5 million grant.   The study seeks to understand how performing arts organizations can attract new audiences while retaining current ones,  in a sustainable way, and whether audience building contributes to the organization’s financial health. 

Dr. Ostrower is the author of books on Trustees of Culture and Why the Wealthy Give, which received awards from ARNOVA and Independent Sector, and co-author of Race, Ethnicity and Participation in the Arts. Among her articles and monographs are Attitudes and Practices Concerning Effective Philanthropy (recipient of Independent Sector's Virginia Hodgkinson Research Prize); Nonprofit Governance in the United States; The Reality Underneath the Buzz of Partnerships; The Diversity of Cultural Participation and a co-authored chapter on governance in The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook.  Her research has been supported by numerous grants, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Aspen Institute.

Dr. Ostrower is a board member and past-President of the Association for Research on Voluntary and Nonprofit Action (ARNOVA) and in recent years has served on the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly board, the academic advisory committee of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and the National Endowment for the Arts 2012 SPPA Working Group. 


Ph.D. in Sociology, Yale University

Current Positions

Joint appointment, LBJ School of Public Affairs and College of Fine Arts (Department of Theatre and Dance), The University of Texas at Austin; Affiliated Scholar, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, The Urban Institute; Director of the Portfolio Program in Arts and Cultural Management and Entrepreneurship at The University of Texas at Austin

Previous Positions

Senior Research Associate, The Urban Institute, 2000-2008; Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Harvard University (1995-2000; assistant professor 1991-1995; instructor 1990-1991); Associate Director and Assistant Director, Yale University Program on Non-Profit Organizations (1988-1989)

Author, Trustees of Culture (University of Chicago 2002); Author, Why the Wealthy Give (Princeton 1995); Co-author, Race, Ethnicity and Participation in the Arts (Seven Locks Press/National Endowment for the Arts 1992); Author and co-author of various other publications on philanthropy, governance, and cultural participation such as:  “Governing Boards and Organizational Environments: Growing Complexities, Shifting Frameworks” in P. Eynaud, J. Laville, and D. Young (editors) Governance and Democracy (Routledge 2015);   Diversity on Cultural Boards: Implications for Organizational Value and Impact (National Endowment for the Arts 2013); Sunsetting: A Framework for Foundation Life as well as Death (Aspen Institute 2012);   “Moving Governance Research Forward: A Contingency-Based Framework and Data Application” NVSQ (2010); “Multiple Motives, Multiple Experiences: The Diversity of Cultural Participation” in  B. Ivey and S. Tepper (editors); Engaging Art (Routledge  2008); Nonprofit Governance in the United States: Findings on Performance and Accountability from the First National Representative Study (The Urban Institute  2007).

Faculty in the News

08/03/2015 Meet the Woman Who Will Track the Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative Inside Philanthropy
07/31/2015 Professor aims to expand art audiences with $3.5 million Wallace Foundation grant ArtDaily
07/30/2015 Texas Researcher Gets $3.5M To Study How Arts Groups Attract Fans Texas Standard
07/27/2015 UT’s Francie Ostrower Snags $3.5 Million to Study Arts Engagement Alcalde
07/22/2015 UT gets $3.5M grant to help Austin arts groups grow revenue Austin Business Journal
09/14/2012 MOCA's board: Deep pockets aren't a cure-all Los Angeles Times
07/31/2011 Program for graduate students to teach running of non-profits The Daily Texan
05/21/2009 Foundation Life Span: A Vexing Issue The Chronicle of Philanthropy
12/11/2008 'Angelic' View Clouds Approach to Nonprofit Research, Speakers Say Chronicle of Philanthropy
06/01/2008 Financial Transactions with Your Board: Who Is Looking? Summer 2008 Nonprofit Quarterly
05/29/2008 A Better Way to Deal With the Leadership Crisis (subscription only) The Chronicle of Philantrophy
05/29/2008 Midsize Charities Urged to Set New Board Policies (subscription only) The Chronicle of Philantrophy
12/27/2007 NOT a Spin-Free Zone: Reflections on the Utility and Price of Nonprofit Spin Nonprofit Quarterly
06/28/2007 Insider Deals and Other Controversial Board Practices Persist, Study Finds (subscription required) The Chronicle of Philanthropy
06/26/2007 Insider Deals Are Common Among Nonprofit Boards, Study Finds The Chronicle of Higher Education


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