Solt comes to the campus from the California Institute of the Arts School of Theater (CalArts), where she was a longtime professor of theater. While at CalArts, she served as dean for eight years (1995-2003), during which she was also founding artistic director/producer of the CalArts Center for New Theater (renamed the Center for New Performance in 2006). In 2002, she won an NAACP Theater Award for an internationally acclaimed, site-specific, all-female production of Shakespeare's King Lear.
Prior to that, she was senior vice president of production for Miramax Films and an award-winning producer of feature films for Warner Bros., including Presumed Innocent starring Harrison Ford and Doc Hollywood with Michael J. Fox. Early in her film career, she worked closely as a producer with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alan J. Pakula. Her film career began with Pakula's Sophie's Choice, starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline. Among her duties, she served as Streep's Polish dialce coach.
Susan Solt’s training and background are in theater and film production. She earned her M.F.A. in theater administration from the Yale School of Drama, Solt studied acting in London, and she also worked with Jerzy Grotowski of the acclaimed Laboratory Theater in Poland as a Fulbright Fellow.
Solt holds as well as a M.A. in African American studies, a M.A. in U.S. history, and a Ph.D. in Atlantic history from UCLA. Her latest research project is a book titled The Biography of Othello, A signifying Life that captures Othello's value in the history of the construction of race. Solt is also working on a book based on her popular CalArts entrepreneurship class titled Da Vinci’s Mindset: The Artist’s Life of Purpose Through Creative Entrepreneurship.
Susan Solt grew up on the campus of a state university as the daughter of two professors, a historian father, and a poet mother. The UC Santa Cruz campus enchanted her when she first visited as a child many years ago. She served as UCSC's dean of the Arts from 2016-2019.