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Please send any private comments to futureofartcenter at gmail.com. Note that comments were turned off last May. They are available now for the most recent post only.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Unified petition - Education First!

There is a new Education First Petition, that unifies the various ideas of how to speak directly to the ACCD Board of Trustees. In short, it requests that the Trustees change the priorities of the school to focus more on education. Some of you may support the idea that Koshalek's contract not be renewed. If so, you are suggested to add that as a comment to your "signature" of the digital petition. Paper versions of the petition will be circulated on campus this week. The full text of the new petition is included as a comment on this post.

NEWS: Noted designers & alums Nathan Shedroff and Clement Mok have signed the petition along with more than 600 others.

13 comments:

Future of Art Center said...

Dear Art Center Trustees,

We, the undersigned, are members of the Art Center Community: its students, alumni, faculty, and staff. First and foremost, we are requesting that the Board of Trustees act -- in its capacity as governing body of the school -- to put an immediate halt to the current Art Center Master Development Plan which includes the Gehry designed DRC.

The mission of Art Center has traditionally been and should be the nurturing of professional design and artistic abilities through the education of its students. We believe that this tradition of educational excellence has been compromised under the direction of the current administration and its president Richard Koshalek, and we ask that the Board of Trustees take immediate action to again make education the school's top investment priority.

That prioritization of education should result in tangible and immediate improvements for students, classes, facilities, and teachers. To that end, we request that the Board also take action to dramatically reduce non-educational administrative expenses. We ask that fund raising efforts place the highest priorities on scholarships and endowments which directly benefit current and future students.

Lastly, we request greater alumni representation on the college's senior leadership team and we respectfully request the opportunity for one or more of our Community delegates to formally address the Board at its next meeting in order to make our concerns known.

As members of the Art Center Community, we stand together: firmly committed to the legacy of the school, its students and alumni. Art Center is not made up of one man's vision, but one vision built from the whole of past, present and future students. Please do not allow yourselves to be distracted by the legacy needs of one man. Do not continue to allow critically-needed capital to be diverted to non-essential uses. Do not spend more time and money on the distant future, when there is great present need. Put education first.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Ashley said...

For those of you who specifically want to place a vote of no confidence in Koshalek, the place to do it is in the comments section when you sign. Enough people do that, and the Board will get the message..

Anonymous said...

Let's ask Richard Koshalek a central question to this debate: Why does he constantly hammer everyone with his opinion that museums (where he spent most of his career) and Art Center College of Design have so much in common???

One is a place where art is displayed. The other is where it's created. A museum might well need a stunning architectural statement as a backdrop to great art. But a design school is different. A school needs dedicated teachers, efficient tools, and functional facilities to encourage students to learn their craft and create great design. When the Ellwood building opened, it was exactly that. That it was also cool-looking was a bonus.

Seems to me, Koshalek - with all his years promoting museums - understands running the operations of the design equivalent of a morgue. And now he thinks he's competent to run a hospital - with real, live patients needing care and attention - in the same manner. Don't blame him, he simply doesn't know any better.

Let the Board of Trustees know you've had enough - sign the petition, show him the door.

- an Alum

Anonymous said...

Dear Ashley,

Why do you want to vote "no confidence" in Richard Koshalek? This petition was drafted before ACSG even met with Richard. It is just so unfair. And to think that he has worked so hard to raise funds for the school's endowment (more than doubling the endowment) and scholarships, along with the monies to carry out the trustee's charge to expand the school. These funds help the students that are already here and will help future students as well.

You all don't realize how much Richard has done to help the school. How much damage do you want to do?

--a lowly staffperson

lee bolton said...

I understand your disappointment in our discordance of the current agenda of keeping him on for another four years or so, but we think it's time for a clean slate.
Change happens from the top.

We are aware that Richard is asking for more time in a few weeks, so time is of the essence. The concept of a letter was put together last week as the next step if we did not agree with the outcome of the Friday meeting.

I am disappointed too. I expected so much more of the best design/ art school in the world, so to find things in such poor condition when I arrived and to pay 14k a semester at that, feels like an insult.

True I am free to go somewhere else, but that's not why I'm here. I'm here to change and make a difference, and I know Ashley and you are here to do the same.

It's great that Richard has raised all this money, but unfortunately we want to move in a different direction than the one we are currently in. Both of us can quote numbers till we are blue in the face, but none of it will change a thing. I am sorry.

Ashley said...

Anonymous -
I have come to understand a great deal more about Koshalek's reasons for his policies and actions, and although my respect for him as a fundraiser has increased, it still doesn't change my opinion that his contract should not be extended. I continue to be worried about the quality of education, which is something I can see for myself. Koshalek has brought some good opportunities to the school (TDS etc) but I feel like in that process he has forgotten what makes a good designer in the first place. Our core education should not be compromised for anything.
Someone new at the helm won't sink Art Center. But it might help bring a new perspective to the DRC and the problems we are dealing with.

Also, dude, seriously. Use your real name. I am. It's not like you fear for your job and it makes it harder to respect your argument if you're not willing to step up personally.

Tony said...

I've been in art-related programs in three legitimate colleges including Art Center, and Art Center is far and away the best of them. I feel very strongly that this is not only due to the overall quality of the students and teachers, but is also due in large part to all of the peripheral things happening around us on many levels that many of us don't see or participate in or appreciate as we head from the parking lot to class and back again.

This school is so much more than what happens in the classrooms. There are reasons beyond what is in our graduation portfolios that Art Center is connected to and (generally) respected by the outside world of practicing artists and designers. I think as students that it is very easy to lose sight of this, especially when you are sitting on an uncomfortable metal stool in the cheap annex for five hours or when you can't find a functioning printer in the lab or recycle a single thing in the cafeteria... I think that these things suck as much as anyone and I am definitely not saying that the school is perfect or that we shouldn't address these kinds of things.

What I am saying is that, like it or not, Art Center is a large institution, which deals with a lot of people and a lot of money and other institutional issues, and it is as much the job of our administration to make the institution function on those levels as it is for them to do more tangible things to "make education first."

I am not going to sign the petition because it seems to me that it sets up an unrealistic and unfair dichotomy where any money needs to essentially flow directly into classroom activities or else it is considered uneducational and part of Koshalek's "legacy needs." In my 7 years of college experience, Art Center has "made my education first" far more than any other school I have attended. It's a rich environment with so much more going on than crits and lectures. I know these things cost money and I am fine with that. I have no problem with spending money on future programs, it is the duty of any institution to plan for future improvement, and I am sure that we have reaped the benefits of many programs begun years ago and paid for by students who never got to participate in them. Every college works like that and it is naive to think otherwise.

My general expectations of the President of any college, including Art Center, is that they will raise money, manage the institutional side of the school, and keep the school relevant to the rest of the world. It truly seems to me that Koshalek has done these things. I don't need to know all the details and duties of his day to day job, but I do know that I haven't ever felt disappointed regarding any of those issues, and that is the extent to which I concern myself with it.

Two more points - the petition calls for " fund raising efforts (that) place the highest priorities on scholarships and endowments which directly benefit current and future students," but in the recap of last week's meeting it is stated that a majority of the money from fundraising actually does go to scholarships and endowments...

Also alumni in the senior leadership team is an excellent idea, if that alumni is qualified for it... which the typical alumni isn't because the senior leadership team handles administrative issues and not art/design issues. It has been my experience that Art Center hires alumni, administrative or otherwise, when they are right for the job.

my longwinded 2cents...

Anonymous said...

Tony said above:
"Also alumni in the senior leadership team is an excellent idea, if that alumni is qualified for it...

which the typical alumni ISN'T because the senior leadership team handles administrative issues and not art/design issues."


It seems you could be a member of the staff, you might want to see that Koshalek himself has paid lip service to empowering designers when he said,

"If we do that then our students will become leaders in the future. They won’t be marginalized as creative people. It has always bothered me that designers and, to a certain degree, architects have always been marginalized, working for other clients, whether they’re corporate or government or whatever. " dwell article

Why don't you read up on Clement Mok, or Kit Hinrichs, before you claim designers can not be both strong creatives as well as run successful companies.

Jason said...

Hello everyone,

I would like to point out that on both blogs using anonymous is putting credibility, community, and trust at stake. I would also agree that Mr. Koshalek has done a good job at fund raising and school exposure, although looking at this institution before his time it seemed to never be a priority.
I've been reading for weeks and I feel like none of this will be taken seriously without data proving misplaced priorities and a plan to put new policies in place.
As for data please look here http://www.guidestar.org/pqShowGsReport.do?partner=grantexplorer&npoId=227435
This is what I found: I'm not a tax expert but I did get some help and I would be happy to see a more in depth study done by a professional.
///////A interesting fact is that in 2000 roughly 37% of the tuition revenue went toward programs salaries and in 05' it was 35% (note: this does not include management salaries)
///////The schools debts including mortgages and and tax exempt bonds have seen a 96% growth from 2000 to 2005.
///////Last I looked at investments and securites the location of our pathetic endowment. In 2000 these cash resources represented roughly 44% of the total assets of the school. In 2005 that percentage was 38%.
///////Land and building assets value in 2000 was 38% if total assets and today it is roughly 47%.
//////The schools growth rates from 2000 to 2005 look like this: Total assets up 84%, Total Revenues up 69%, Expenses growth rate up 38% Total liabilities up 96%, Land and Buildings up 121%, Investments and securities up 60% ,Program functioning expenses up only 37% (WTF!), Tuition Revenue up 41%, Salaries not including management up 44%. I would like to know if there is a initiative to get the numbers officially recognized as correct and present policy changes that will keep things growing in a sustainable way. The way these percentages are going I'm not too sure you'll find design leaders into this kind of charity... I mean teaching. Take a look at college data.com you will find a 70% acceptance rate for Art Center with a average debt of 70K as opposed to RISD that is 30% with 4 times as many applicants and a average of 22K debt. Richard talks about increasing awareness but I think he needs to focus on accessibility we are only 16% international.\\\\\\\My biggest complaint out of all of this is that the career services office and financial aid office although doing a good job could be given some money and staff to assist with out inevitable money worries which are simply not going to go away and stifle and disrupt creative experiences.\\\\\\
Thanks for the blog Nathan we all owe you!!!!!
Sincerely, Jason Hill (the student)
contact me with you thoughts and pleas keep others informed!!!!!
jason.n.hill@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

The petition is filled with Lies

Anonymous said...

None of you are going to like this suggestion. Art Center should seek to merge itself into a larger university. Perhaps retaining its own "Art Center" identity within that university. For example: "________ University, Art Center College of Design".

Why do I suggest this? Art Center is this rather tiny school that is struggling with issues of self-sustainability. You gotta have a building to sit in, you gotta have a shop to build your models in, you gotta have a stage to shoot your picyures in, etc. Well sorry, but all of that costs money. And if there are just 1600 of you to foot the bill, that means that you've all gotta put in a serious chunk of change in order to support it.

Art Center has been stuck at this "crucial juncture" for decades. There is no doubt that the reputation is solid. People want to come and study there. But not at this ridiculous cost. And the cost seems to be rising. You, as students, want your cake and you want to eat it. The problem is that you are addicted to a really expensive kind of cake. You chose "Bristol Farms", but you can only realistically afford Duncan Hines. And God forbid if Bristol Farms is not always meeting your needs. Get the idea?

Art Center has this long standing public image of being this classy place with sculpture gardens, cutting edge architecture, cool galleries and all kinds of "yuppie-chic" coolness factors to show off in the tours and the literature. This "coolness" costs serious money to create and support. Remember: 1600 of you support this. Just 1600 of you.

I certainly do not contribute to the kitty as an alumni, because heck, I have serious student loans to support (and boy, do I ever). Contrary to popular opinion in school, the life of a designer will often times be one of financial struggle. I've had both good times and bad. The curve does not always rise steadily upward.

Want a good suggestion? Merge with Oxy or Cal Tech, or some other small-medium private college. Move the whole freaking thing to that campus. Sell-off the hillside campus to some corporation (or housing developers). Take the money and give it to the new parent college. Build more dorms (for you ACCD people) and build shops and computer labs.

How will this help Art Center Students? Facilities. Athletic fields, workout rooms, cafeterias, DORMS, what have you. COLLEGE LIFE. You might actually come out of this college knowing how to write a proper paragraph. You might graduate with some knowledge of political science or psychology too (No harm in that either).

Imagine this. You have to pay a guy that goes around and changes all the lightbulbs when they burn out. If Art Center was 1/3 the size of its current student population, you'd still have to hire that same guy. He'd have fewer bulbs to change, but you'd still need him around. Same goes with accounting office, the financial aid office, the department chair's office, etc. You need all the same "support crap" that a school 5-6 times the size of Art Center needs. And all of it costs.

I know of a VERY large public university's design school with program offerings not at all dissimilar to that of Art Center. Quite close, actually. The number of students enrolled in that college of design are about 3-4 timnes the number of students at Art Center. The total head count of administrators in that college of design are amazingly similar to those of ACCD's. The guy that changes the lightbulbs is the sam eguy that changes the bulbs over in the biology school and the physical education buildings.

"But wait. I went to Art center and want to be able to take my kids to visit 'The Bridge' and show them the cool place that I went to school"... My answer?: It's just architecture. It'll still be there.

Look at the MIT "Media Lab". Within the field of multimedia and design, it's really saying something to be able to say that you have gone to study there. But the great thing is that MIT/ML students have access to the main support structure of the large university. Fixed-costs are shared by many, not just a few.

Art Center is a small school that has a lot of fixed-costs that any sized school can not do without. You'll either (eventually) need to:

1) seriously expand enrollment to help spread those fixed-costs among more students

2) get a serious sugar-daddy donation (never gonna happen) or

3) Get "freaking used" to the idea that you go to a teeny-weeny school that costs serious money to attend

4) "Do as the Romans do" and get absorbed into a larger school that already has the infrastructure to accomodate Art Center's needs.

Art Center has done precious little to help build upon the idea that I owe it anything as an alumni. All it did was take, take and TAKE from me. I cursed it when I left. There really isn't anything for me to go back to and feel nostalgic about. I feel very little connection to the place as an alumni.

Perhaps I'd feel differently had I attended Art Center as a student of a larger university, but with the same Art Center faculty.

In retrospect, I'd trade my memories of being in that cool-looking leaky building for memories of a really awesome overall college experience.

Anonymous said...

I think I finally figured out what's going on here. David Brown is getting tired of running that lame "Descanso Gardens" up in La CaƱada, and is secretly plotting his return to the helm of Art Center. If anyone is going to host design seminars overseas, it might as well be him. He invented the idea.

I'll bet his house on Orange Grove is stocked full of "Dump Koshalek" flyers.

Anonymous said...

Please take a moment to visit the competing petition website.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/vote-for-art-centers-future-put-honesty-first

Read the comments and you will see that a good number of these folks--the ones who don't know art center at all--are signing without knowing what they are signing at all!