We want to thank the Board for the work they are putting in for the future of Art Center. The time you are are taking to deliberate is important at this critical time in the college's history. We would like you to consider the following as you discuss options for moving forward:
1) If you approve the status quo you will send the wrong message to the ACCD community and damage the reputation and viability of the school. There is a clear desire for change, both from inside and outside the institution. Those involved in the day to day education - students, faculty and staff - are clearly expressing a desire for a new direction. Those outside - alumni, donors, and employers - want the quality of the graduates to achieve higher excellence and the school to influence art and design far into the future. You must approve changes to the school's direction, or the community will directly question why the Board ignored this unprecedented outpouring of support for change.
2) The school must reorient itself towards inventing new approaches to 21st century art and design education. This must be the first priority, after which, expansion and new buildings can be considered in the context of these new modes of education. Certainly the existing facilities must be used to their fullest - the graduate programs should move to South Campus and the Ellwood building should be restored. But new development must follow educational goals, not the other way around.
3) Fund raising and the management of the budget must refocus on scholarships, recruitment, enhancing the classroom experience, developing new curriculum, and supporting faculty. The institutional emphasis on new construction has drained education and damaged the environment for instruction.
4) Art Center is an educational institution, not a for-profit business and not a monument on the hill. The hiring of a world class, experienced educational provost is of utmost importance. This educational leader must be independent and able to inspire, challenge, and leverage the incredible knowledge and commitment of the faculty and chairs. In addition, this person should be focused on education, and it may be advisable to split off some of the responsibilities that the CAO position has to a separate operational role.
5) Sustainability, design thinking, design research, social engagement, and an international perspective are all important, but the school needs to integrate them into actual education and college practices rather than simply talking about them or creating a few token activities for PR effect. The school should engage in meaningful ways or it will have no impact. In particular, the school should work with other educational institutions to build new best practices instead of operating in isolation. The best success is for the school to produce thoughtful practitioners for the future.
Thank you for your consideration.
Welcome to the Future
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