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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.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What are your biggest concerns?

This is a place to express your most important concerns about Art Center. Is it the educational direction, buildings, sustainability, tuition, faculty security, whatever? Make your voice known.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Endowment. The measure of an endowment is not it's actual value, but rather it's annual income in terms of interest--the part that we are legally allowed to spend. Sadly we live in a world where money in the bank just isn't very sexy. That is why our endowment grows so slowly. Donors would rather see their name on a building, then have their name / money disappear in to the numbers on a balance sheet.

lee bolton said...

Ok here we go:

Transparency- Where is my money going? Where can I view information in regards to the school's spending. Why can not money be diverted towards projects that make sense and are 'forward thinking' such as the eco-council's green proposal? What does 'staying competitive' mean when it is a main reason cited as to why my tuition keeps going up?

Education- Why is the school scaling back budgets for education, increasing class sizes, and the price of my education when we have conferences in Barcelona and elsewhere? Shouldn't PR and things of these nature be first to go? Why is the quality of my education going down and the price going up?

Accountability- Who is responsible for our budgets- and isn't it our administration's job to keep this in line and or look at alternatives? Why does the faculty NOT play a greater role at our school? Why are there so many layers of leadership involved now when this school used to operate on so little?

I do not believe in mob mentality. There is a lot of anger and fear right now being thrown around.

-You see, many students don't want to be told that their incoming class was the one that was 'just a quota', because we don't want to accept the fact that we may not have been talented enough to be here in the first place.

The best lie is hidden between two truths, and there are many disseminating rumors being thrown about. This is a small school and word travels fast. There has been relatively little word that has come out of the administration since this began. Sure a confusing email here or there. Many anony posters are faculty- who may or may not have relative things to say, and are immediately discounted by their anony status.

There is a lot of pent up anger in the school. We, the students, feel ignored and taken advantage of by the administration. - I know that is hard to swallow. I know that angers any 'administer' that reads this, - but consider that the students don't actually see what you do. Transparency works to your advantage as well if you just tell us and show us what you do. You can have an open door and say come on in, but realize that it is your environment, and I certainly wouldn't want anybody to come in and say, "What do you actually do?" The students only see results, and in this current time and place, all we've seen is increasing costs, seminars in Barcelona, and the feeling that less students are benefitting.

This college could immediately improve itself by:

A) Restructuring its management chain. Go back to the roots of what worked before. If anything faculty needs a voice to work hand in hand with student government and the administration. Tenure should also be readdressed and so should the faculty's measily 2% raises.

B) Head to toe study of the budget by an outside auditor. Open up the school's records. Let's take a look at expenses versus cashflow and where it is going towards.

C) Focus on education. Let's fix the school first and diversify what the South Campus is used for. Currently it seems vastly underused. Let's improve morale and find a way to reduce costs or show support for one another.

Look, I know these ideas are very general and some of this would take a lot of work, but it's better than having no ideas at all.

I hope that I have been helpful, and that many of you will consider or realize that all this will probably take hard work.

Ashley said...

1. The quality of the students - this is affected most by increased enrollment and slashed education budgets. These actions affect everything the school's reputation is based upon - quality students. Less talent with less teachers means less quality. Lee's right when he says that we're all scared that we were accepted just to make a quota.

2. Practice what you preach - sustainability. The future of design is green you say? Well, let's show that we can be a sustainable institution. Forward thinking institution? Let's institute some new ideas in the educational process. Actions speak louder than words.

3. Institutional events - design summits and green conferences are great, but how do they benefit the student body? How many students attended these conferences? Include the students in these events and let us learn. That's what we came for.

4. Fix what's wrong now - I can appreciate ideas for expansion. We need more space in a lot of areas. But can we fix the leaky roof please? Can we come up with creative ideas for using the space we have? And once we are ready to expand, let's remember that the primary design rule is that form follows function. It really doesn't need to be a shiny tower on a hill. Art Center is not the building it's in, it's the students and teachers that create it.

Ashley said...

small p.s. - the Serious Play conference was available to students at a special discounted rate of $375. Again, let these events benefit the students, not bankrupt them.

Anonymous said...

Art Center’s three biggest problems are the endowment, the endowment, and the endowment. It’s cliche, but very true, it’s the money. The concerns about education are understood, but without the money it’s a moot point. Art Center cannot compete in a world of mega endowments without money. It’s that simple.

It is apparent that Art Center’s lack of financial transparency has led to mismanagement. This idea is telegraphed to us daily by the way the budgets are managed. Leadership has no idea where the money goes. This must stop, now!

A world class school needs a world class Academic CFO, not an FO pro tem. Fritz Weiss at Claremont - McKenna is considered one of finest Academic CFOs in the country--and he is right in our backyard. His contract comes up very shortly, the members Board must do all they can to bring Mr. Weiss on staff. Call him 909-621-8116.

Anonymous said...

I think this might be an interesting thought to discuss: What if instead of Gehry the architect was McDonough?

Anonymous said...

You'll soon find that the "real" cost of building your new library will be in real estate aquisition, construction, permit fees, inspections and building costs, not in the architecture fee itself.

Even someone as famous as Frank Gehry can plan a building that is relatively inexpensive to build.

It won't matter what the answers are if you are always asking the wrong questions.

Art Center, since the late 1970's, has become accustomed to the high-end architecture, the expensive knoll furniture, the cocktail parties and conferences for "design dignitaries" etc. That has become the school's management focus. The focus being supporting its expensive taste and highly polished public image.

Art Center, in the mid 1970's, used to be known for two things:

1) Working your asses off

2) Producing top-notch people who continue to work their asses off.

Art Center, these days, is barely known at all. Reputation? Sure, in Southern California and in automotive circles. The "polished book" that Art Center was always known for is no longer a clear advantage. Access to computers has evened-out the playing field. A kid with a strong work ethic can attend a public university and walk away with a portfolio not too far off from the one you all are chasing. That kid will graduate with 1/4 the "attitude" that most of you will be carrying.

Anonymous said...

Here is my concern given recent events and the ACSG videos I've viewed on My Space: that people won't act or mobilize. Let's think about this for a moment folks. Get up, stand together...and rally. Stage a sit-in, boycott classes for a day, refuse to eat in the cafeteria, spend lunch as a massive group in the Chairs Dept and refuse to leave until you get noticed...and answers! Don't ever believe that this has to be a slow, daunting process that will only come about by endless ACSG meetings where everyone stands up and "airs their grievances." Come on people. This is not complicated to figure out. The student body must stand together and do something dramatic and do it now. It's PROTEST time, not cry in our soup time and sit around and wait for answers from our ACSG reps who seem to think we have to be "cautious" and careful. NO, we don't. It's time to act. Let's do it now while we have a captive audience. Momentum is on our side. Let's start organizing. If we want to communicate with the trustees, then, ummm, well, then let's be there at their meeting. Make some signs, get all your friends and teachers, stand outside the gallery and make the trustees hear your voices as they walk in. The possibilities are endless. We're a creative bunch! Surely, we can think of something alot more productive than attending meetings and waiting for our reps to get back to us. Demand respect. Demand that our voices be heard. The time to act is now. My biggest concern is that WE WON'T...and then, who would we really have to blame? Huh?

Kelvin said...

First, I refuse to sign in as anonymous. My name is Kelvin Mak, a proud alumni - Advt Class of 2000. I was also one of the pioneering member of the ACSG, so I've been through the same wars and suffered the same scars as the ones laid onto current ACCD students. We keep saying that the school is spending money on pointless buildings, throwing social snob parties while ignoring the fundamentals of how to run a school properly. The same mess existed during the David Brown era, and it's still the same now. The mentality of the school is "Who cares about the students as long as they pay up on time" have been around since god knows when. I was a victim of such ABUSE. Yes, I call it abuse because ACCD has consistently lied, tricked and misguided the students even before they enrolled. I've worked as a school tour guide and I've been told to say certain positive things about how great the job placements will be for ACCD graduates. I've also worked as a Telemarketer for the school during their fund-raising efforts, and again, I was instructed to spew propaganda. I did all these because I was initially naive and trusting of the school's directions. However, when comes the time that I was in need of financial help, guess what - I was ignored, misdirected and was even suggested by the administration to "Take time off." And do what? Work at McDonald's and save up for tuition? It was then that I realized that ACCD, if you take away its original legacy plus the great teachers, is simply a BIG CON! Do you really think you can continue to get away with such arrogance and plain display of greed and personal indulgence? Do you think the students, the alumni and the faculty won't stand up and cry foul? Koshalek - you said our competition are schools like MIT and Stanford. With the way you're allowing the dumbing down of entry requirements plus the dramatic cutting down of fundamental art classes, I tell you that ACCD might end up no better than a vocational school. And you know why I can say this? That's because as a advertising company owner/creative director in both the US and China, I've had seen my share of books from recent ACCD grads...and I have to say they always end up in my trash can. It is mostly junk that are irrelevant and formulaic. I do blame the students to some level. But perhaps it is because they have been misdirected, misguided and mistreated. Most of them can't even DRAW! The most basic requirement for an artist no matter what major you belong to. The voices are getting louder and stronger. ACCD admin, Koshalek and the Board...these are the voices of the BACKBONE of the Art Center Spirit. Don't you dare forget it. Don't you dare tarnish it. Don't you dare misuse this privilege. YOUR SALARY COMES FROM THE STUDENTS, PAST AND PRESENT. KNOW YOUR TRUE "OWNERS" AND THEY ARE US. WITHOUT US, YOU ARE SIMPLY NOTHING BUT WORKERS WITH A BLOATED SALARY AND A CUSHY WINDOW OFFICE. WITHOUT US, THERE IS NO ART CENTER COLLEGE OF DESIGN!

Anonymous said...

The quality of education is always my biggest concern.
But RE: the building question --
The real issue isn't about a building vs. education.
Most of us agree we need to repair and upgrade the building we have, and that we need more space. Thus the real issue is what kind of "building" can best further the needs of education for what lies ahead, and the process of how that decision is arrived at. After reading the article in May 2008 Vanity Fair (a must!) about William McDonough's eco philosophy and what he did at Oberlin College in 2001, I asked myself 'why didn't we bring this person in to assess our building and recommend how we might grow in a sustainable way that was fiscally responsible'. Why not a variety of people meeting in an on-going forum for discussion with the people who live and work there-- students, faculty, staff.

In addition--
This problem is one confronting other institutions as well--see
From the issue dated May 23, 2008
Chronicle of Higher Education
As Campuses Crumble, Budgets Are Crunched

By SCOTT CARLSON

".......Colleges have always struggled with deferred maintenance, but several factors might make that struggle especially challenging in the future. Colleges grew rapidly in the postwar years and have a generation of 1960s or 70s buildings that need major repair or replacement. In the past 10 years, colleges went through another building boom, adding to the square footage they need to support. Many of those new buildings are more costly and complicated to maintain than buildings of the past.

To make things even more difficult, colleges face a money crunch. A looming energy crisis and an unstable economy, combined with infrastructure repairs needed in other public spaces, may squeeze the state budgets that public colleges rely on. Tuition-dependent private colleges might not be better off. In coming years, colleges will very likely vie for fewer students, even as their buildings play a major role in the admissions sales pitch.

In short, without drastic intervention, many campuses may be on a track toward steady deterioration.

The Less-Glamorous Commitment

Harvey H. Kaiser, who is well known for advising colleges on deferred maintenance, has seen "shining examples" in North Carolina and Massachusetts, where lawmakers have pushed for billions to fix state-college infrastructures. But so many other state universities and small colleges "just didn't address the problem while they were building new buildings," he says in a telephone interview from Florida.

"I see the institutions here keep rolling out grand schemes and new buildings, … and they set aside the less-glamorous commitments — what I call the stewardship commitment," he says. "It's going to start to spiral downward again to a huge backlog." College leaders will go to donors and legislatures for new buildings, he says, but when it comes to the more difficult task of getting money for maintenance, "they either don't have the stomach for it or they don't think it is glamorous enough for their watch."

Donors typically don't want to put their names on pieces of sewer pipe, so the unglamorous but very necessary maintenance money usually comes out of the operations budget. But getting more money for operations is always a difficult task, says Matt Adams, another prominent facilities consultant.

If colleges can't support their existing buildings yet continue adding new ones, he says, they risk operating in what the facilities industry calls "run-to-failure mode" — in other words, running buildings into the ground. "Certainly within 10 to 12 years, systems that were meant to last 30 years will start failing," he says. "They will have unplanned maintenance and breakdowns happening in the middle of the night, when overtime is required. That further destroys their maintenance budget."

Those are some of the very challenges Mr. Baker faces at the University of Maryland, where fixing old buildings is balanced against building new ones to attract students and star professors. "Since I've been here, we've torn down two chicken coops and a World War II dance theater," he says. "And we have built several million square feet of space. There has got to be a point of no return.".......

First read about Oberlin and then think about the "maintenance" of a Gehry building versus another solution. They don't have a good record so far, and no one has discussed the actual sustainability issue.

So add accountability, transparency, and a meaningful voice for the constituency in the decision-making process to the list of concerns.
Representative governance.
Thank you.

Jennifer Fabos said...

I have been modeling for Art Center for over 15 years and I agree that the school has taken a turn for the worst. You used to have a lot of great full time teachers that loved and cared about their work and the students. Now it seems like there are more part time then full time. The teachers and students are all worried. I also work at a lot of other schools and there is talk everywhere about the bad changes at Art Center. The dropping of Foundation classes is one of the most talked about.

Anonymous said...

This year, for the first year, the graduating students of the photo department were told that they would not be getting a promo.

The cost we were told was $8,000 for the promo, and that we were just not going to get one.

I asked, why not give us the money or even a portion of it for other costs involved in putting together a grad show. Perhaps free prints from our print studio? Or, with 10 graduates why not give the graduating class $4,000 to be split within the group to help pay for what we needed to create an incredible show that would get alumni and professionals in our field interested in Art Center again?

I was told no, the money was gone and there was nothing I could do about it.


So now I am spending over $2,000 of my money on a grad show and the tools of my trade that i will need to try and make a living outside art center, (promos, cards, website, portfolio books.)


Shouldn't we have a reasonable expectation to have the department put as much money into our graduation show as to the show before ours?

Have I not spent as much on my education here as the graduating class before mine?