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Friday, September 26, 2008

First priorities for the Interim President

With the immanent appointment of an Interim President, what are the priorities for this new member of the Art Center community? Fundamentally, we believe that the college needs to set itself on a positive course before the new permanent president arrives. If things seem to be a mess with destructive factionalism, it will be much harder to hire a really great new president. Here are a few specific suggestions for the Interim President. Please add your own.
  1. Make a clear statement to the students, faculty, alumni and staff that from now on the college will be more transparent and communicative with them. Start by holding a public forum that explains the current status of the college, and then listens to the concerns of the community.

  2. Immediately spend money on visible improvements to the educational environment - these should be things that students and faculty experience as part of the day-to-day educational experience.

  3. Embark on a comprehensive review of spending with an eye towards focusing the school's budget on high quality education and recruitment, and the elimination of high-cost, low benefit spending and staff.

  4. Engage education (faculty, students, chairs, alumni) to initiate a dialog on art & design education for the 21st Century. How should the evolving role of artists and designers change our curriculum? What college-wide initiatives should there be to modernize education, create strong faculty development, and integrate technology and computing into education?


Anonymous said...

Don't expact an interim president to make ANY declarations that begin with the phrase "From now on..." Because, obviously, he or she will not be around to enforce it.

Also, do not expect an interim president to do much anything short of trying to keep the plane flying straight and level. Your expecations for change are unrealistic.

Now the board of trustees is another matter. I *DO* think it is fair to place some expectations on them in terms of long-term vision and transparency. For starters, the board should not be behaving like an aloof bunch of untouchables that can not be bothered to communicate on matters.

Future of Art Center said...

I agree that the interim president cannot do much long-term planning, but if he or she does not deal with the more urgent needs of the budget priorities and cleanup (Paris trips!?), internal communication practices (catalog mess anyone?), short term improvements in facilities for students and faculty (broken chairs, leaky roofs, etc.), and opening up a college community discussion, the college will be worse off.

Perhaps you are not on campus, but the day-to-day situation has a real potential to deteriorate into in-fighting and destructive behavior (there are already signs of this). Without a firm and positive direction set by the interim president, the permanent president will arrive to a much worse mess that will require years to repair.

The interim president cannot be simply be a do-nothing caretaker. The leadership vacuum is already a huge problem, and it is not something that the Board can directly solve. Someone on the ground needs to get involved and make some critical decisions and initiate consensus building to set up a positive situation for the new leader.

Anonymous said...

So, will the new interim president become an empty suit like the rest of the board?

Still not convinced this school is worth what they are charging.

Ophelia Chong said...

Definition of "Interim"

It is serving as a temporary measure until something more complete and permanent can be established.

1. Budget

2. Yes, look into the Paris trips, travel budgets of International Initiatives. One trip could pay for repairs of the broken chairs.

3. Lame Duck departments. Fundraising for the DRC is dead. What departments can now be pared down?

4. Establish an open communication system for the next President. Take notes, listen to the students, faculty and adminstration for the next President.

A finger in the Dike is not what we need now.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to past history and popular slogans, this building does not leak!

Space and parking issues are still pressing. An ugly temporary building is still in the North Parking Lot. And if SoCal ever gets enough rain, parking in the sculpture garden will not be an option and we'll be in for problems. As for student population, it didn't go down this term. We're at capacity for cars and people.

It looks like one "storm" has blown over.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard when the interim president begins? What is happening?

Anonymous said...

You are assuming one has even been recruited. All we have heard are rumors thus far.

Based upon the past (and recent past) history of communication between the board and the ACCD community, I'm sure they'll let us all know when they are good and ready to do so.

Anonymous said...

So if there's no interim president yet, who exactly is in charge? Which of the Senior VPs is the highest ranking? Operations, Human Resources, PR...? Do we have a Dick Cheney?

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that the board will not announce anything until they have an agreement with the interim president about start date, salary, and scope of responsibilities, including reporting structure so that the senior management types don't run amok.

In the meantime, don't know if there is a Dick Cheney. I hope there is no Al Haig.

Good luck Art Center!

Anonymous said...

I want to know what kind of golden parachute went to Koshalek. Cough it up, Art Center. Let's hear the number. We'll eventually find out, so why not share now?

Anonymous said...

How about appointing JHB until the the interim arrives. His team manages to get things done while enrolled in school.

Anonymous said...

work with the department heads to rebuild the programs to make sure that they are staying competitive and current.

Its no secret that art center's name isn't what it used to be and that portfolios are starting to look the same term after term.

I'd like to know how long the interm president is serving for and what is being done to find a permanent replacement so that the school can rebuild.

Anonymous said...


So long as your teachers are showing up and YOU are showing up, there should be very little (if any) disruption to your education. Ask yourself this: Did you even know when Koshalek was on-campus? Did you even care if he was gone?

Get your assignments, do your work, but be sure to voice your concerns. Art Center did not establish its reputation overnight, nor will it lose it overnight.

People were saying that Art Center had "lost it" more than 20 years ago. Clearly that was not the case then, nor is it the case today.

You have anxiety about things, and that is 100% understandable. You have things that piss you off. You have the right to be pissed-off. BE pissed-off (you should be).

Hold the school accountable for addressing your concerns. You can come out of the woodwork now and activate and know that your thoughts and demands will be heard. You might not get your way, but seriously, people are listening now. The bridge people and the board are a bit scared about the power you students have over the situation. You have something that they do not: The exclusive power to fund the school.

Nathan: Come out of the woodwork and tell everyone the detailed truth about how and why you were silenced, either by their actions or your own beliefs. You don't have to tow the rope on your own, but people around town would benefit from your speaking-up again.

Anonymous said...


George Carlin said baby boomers are cold blooded narcisstic people.

I think a new generation of people are not trusting anybody over the age of 30....I think rightfully so.

Education comes first, and screw world domination in design by opening up schools in Europe and making the campus pretty with a pretentious building contract.

Variety is a good thing. Domination stomps out new concepts in design.

The Europeans are way ahead in design concepts anyhow. Maybe the Europeans should come over here and teach us a thing or two.

Anonymous said...

It's a comedy act. He wasn't trying to recruit an army to rebel against baby boomers. The only people more selfish than the baby boomers are the two generations that immediately followed them.

Anonymous said...

Tell that to Rachel Tiede.

Wasn't for that cold blooded act of selfish concern to one's job security this whole debacle probably wouldn't have manifested itself.

Comedy often has a ring of truth to it.

Anonymous said...

He didn't do it because he was a Baby Boomer. He did it because he was admitted to an exclusive club, started to like it, and wanted to protect his membership in it (even at the expense of others' jobs). Power and money tend to corrupt and few are immune.

This is why checks and balances need to be installed. They'll never get installed unless people like you start to take action (and not the "silent protest" kind of action).

Anonymous said...

I don't know.

I think Art Center has a history cultivating megalomania ever since it built its Pasadena Campus.

If I have to name names I can, but I think you guys know who I am talking about. This militant reward and punishment type system with nuiances of favoritism seems to be developing a corrupt and neurotic culture.

I think a transparent society would reduce the dysfunctional behavior, but transparency might impede creativity since alot of good concepts usually excel when scrutiny is at least pressed to a minimum.

Sometimes overly critical thinking can stomp out new concepts and ideas.

However, some behavior is just simply abusive. I never got that Bill Moore, Chouinard, burning art on the walls and belittleing the shit out of the students way of instructing....but fuck whatever.
It seems that mentality goes all the way to the top.

Here again remember Rachel Tiede.
That law of the jungle mentality, might be real world, but the real world ain't so great anyway. Maybe some changes should be made?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that there are more people out there who don't mind shaming the corrupt short term value system the boomers have embraced. They can't help it they grew up in the "idealized" 50's where a single income could put a few kids through college. The history books of the time read like fairytale propaganda.

With all do respect 12:03 PM the only generation that has matured after the boomers are the genXers. These latch key kids have embraced technology and ushered in the greatest economic growth since WWII.

As a whole...Yes the boomers are spoiled and stupid, they are passing along their bad habits with a twist.... borrowed money and bailouts.

Thanks for the access to 1/4 million dollars for college and I guess I shouldn't worry that the average pay range for a Art Center Graduate is 27-65k. You'll bail me out, right.

They have dealt their kids a hand of massive debt and a world exploited because they believe in end days or something.

I will not be giving my parents the same respect I gave my grandparents, guaranteed.

Carlin speaks the truth. You can start blaming Xers after Obama is elected.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind we're dealing with the most feral aggressive generation ever. Hey, you guys use to confront injustice with rifles and water cannons like Kent State.

About something that had nothing to do with education, but the injustices of society.

So far everybody has been very passive about the crap that's been dished out. If we take the baby boomer example of behavior, there should be a hell of alot more chaos then what is go'n on now.

You want people to go off, just keep push'n it. Quarter of a million dollars for education seems like a precarious balancing act to me....especially if you practically accept anybody to attend with level 3 and 4 entrance portfolios.

Anonymous said...

"Thanks for the access to 1/4 million dollars for college and I guess I shouldn't worry that the average pay range for a Art Center Graduate is 27-65k. You'll bail me out, right."

Excellent point. If anyone is funding student loans that total to six-figure dollar amounts, the deserve to die a slow financial death. Unfortunately, the buying psychology for the borrowers is the same as the homeowners that did not belong buying homes.

I remember wanting my ACCD education so badly, I signed my loan papers blindly. WHy? Becauase they would not give me the money otherwise. Thankfully, my career worked-out and I was able to pay it back without too much trouble. But there is NO WAY a current ACCD student can sign-on to a six-figure debt-load and have any realistic expectation of being solvent for 10 years. Will some make it big and hit the big dollars? Sure, but most will not.

Future of Art Center said...

Someone asked who was the top person running ACCD in the absence of a president and/or CAO. That would likely be Richard Haluschak, the CFO, under close supervision of the Board. For a list of who else is left:


Rumors have it that the new interim president may be announced after the next Board meeting later in October.

Lastly, one of the Board members has resigned: Micheal Reese

Anonymous said...

A list of trustees along with the financial statements from 2006 can be found here: http://preview.tinyurl.com/3hdr5o

It appears Michael Reese is no longer a trustee...

How will this affect Art Center and its students?

Anonymous said...

More George Carlin insights:

Considering all abuse that been heaped on students recently, I don't think this is all that conspiracy minded.

Anonymous said...

Word has it that Michael Reese resigned after the results came out from the forensic audit of the President's Office by an independent auditor that he insisted that the Board conduct. Well, the Board went ahead and did the independent audit, which proved absolutely no wrong-doing by Koshalek, Haluschak, etc. That's when Reese decided to leave.

A forensic audit showed no wrong-doing. Why is it that we only hear bad newd on this site? People on the blog (or one anonymous person, you never know) called for this audit over and over. And that was the result. For what it's worth.

We deserve more than drudge-like news reporting out there. But then again, you go to war with the army you've got.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember anyone claiming fraud on the part of Haluschak or Koshalek. Koshalek was given free reign to determine what was the best way to spend Art Center's money. If those decisions included sending the senior staff to Barcelona or Paris, then that was his right.

This is a misguided attempt at a smokescreen, and it will not work.

This audit only confirms that the board ITSELF was negligent in allowing such misguided financial policies to exist.

No one ever said that Koshalek and Haluschak were stealing money. Where did you get that from?

And you know what? I think it is prudent and proper to conduct an audit of this nature every so often, don't you? Does anyone remember when the school decided to audit the (formerly school-owned) bookstore? A disastrous discovery was made. It turned out that the store manager had robbed the school blind for over a decade for a very large sum of money. I think the board remembers this.

As I have said before, put the microscope on the board that enables such misguided spending, not the one who ends up doing the spending.

Anonymous said...

I do not recall any of this aimed towards or anyone calling out fraud. It is just shining a light on excessive spending and poor judgment of direction of the school's money.

Maybe he resigned because he saw something that he did not like or could not bear to be a part of any longer...

Anonymous said...

What you are seeing is board members actually having to stomach what they see and actually taking moral positions on how things are going.

Being on this board is usually an easy gig. They hire the President and he just runs the mofo. Every so often, things don't exactly go well, and the board members have to roll up their sleeves. The first guys to bail-out are the guys who don't want to do any work to right the ship, and the next group is usually the group that discovers that they are in the minority.

What does this news tell you? If Reese is the guy that demanded the audit, it means he was on the side of "things ain't exactly going well" and he is likely facing opposition. What you end up being left with is a bunch of people who think everything is just fine with the status-quo.

The hell it IS fine. It's not.

Ophelia Chong said...

All an audit does is say where the money went and how much. The problem was where the money went and how little went to education.

Audits should be done on a regular basis. Look at AIG, Lehman's, Enron, and an endless list of what is happening now to our economy.

Anonymous said...

Annual audits are done already. Extra audits cost extra $. And let's not forget all the legal bills too. Lots and lots of $.

Isn't pro bono in ACCD's vocabulary?

Anonymous said...

So long as all the money gets spent (and not "stolen") the board will continue to think that all is well. Like Ophelia said, the problem is in the prioritization, not the accuracy of the accounting.

Haluschak will merely advise the president on if he/she has enough money to do what he/she wants, and if not, how to get it.

If a simple financial audit is enough to turn board members against one another, that means we have serious problems within the board itself.

Anonymous said...

Why haven't we heard anything from John Puerner?

It seems that we'll just have to wait and see what the interim president chooses to do. He's sure to have his marching orders from the powers at the top.

What happens after the present powers step down at the end of this year?

Anonymous said...

Oh the irony:

Last week the Spanish city of Barcelona hosted a one-day event on "Disruptive Thinking" organised by the Art Center College of Design, in collaboration with the ESADE Business School.

The organisers promoted the event as part of "a series of on-stage conversations with internationally renowned thinkers in many fields whose 'disruptive' ideas and actions challenge convention, break current paradigms, and inspire positive changes in the larger world."

What are Californians doing in Barcelona? Why did they organise this type of gathering? And how successful was the event in conveying or stimulating disruptive thinking? Read more here.


Do you ever get the feeling people are full of shit?

I think there's a difference between proping up your reputation and just cowing to the masses.

Per that article:
Putting People First
Designmatters at Art Center explores the 'social and humanitarian' benefits of design and responsible business??????

Since when has Art Center thought in terms of a Eutopian society?

I just remember Art Center beaten the crap out of you to do your homework and paying the tuition?
Who had time to think about social awareness?

I think disruptive thinking is about questioning the status quo....and hypocrisy.

I don't think Art Center should masquerade as a force of social consciousness and just plainly state that its a business made to make money....that's it.

I'd trust an Academic setting at a State College, that explores many concepts of thinking, then a trade school like Art Center.

A State College gives you the luxury to think, because it costs less.

Anonymous said...


I just keep reading this article, and I can't think of any behavior that actually supports this way of thinking at Art Center.

Richard Koshalek was a great spin doctor, but hardly about social awareness.

If you want to believe your own propaganda then you have to act upon it. I just get the feeling the Gehry building mattered more then educating the students.

I think Art Center has got it all wrong. The Europeans are way more advanced about design, green energy and social awareness then Art Center or the USA in general. I think Art Center should encourage European Academics and Designers to come to Pasadena and build a school here in Southern California.

Anonymous said...


Alfons Sauquet, dean of the ESADE business school. Sauquet was very much the wise academic who brought structure to it all....... He was also strong at pointing out how conservative businesses really are, and why they are often antithetical to innovation and that this also can also hamper recruitment.......In essence, Sauquet argues, companies need to rethink themselves so that they will provide an environment that attracts the best people so that innovation can take place.

ACCD is one of those 'companies' that is becoming antithetical. Well, only attracting the wealthiest amoung us is a sure way of hampering innovation since time after time it has been shown that the best artists usually come from modest means.....spoiled rotten kids usually don't have the experiences people that suffer through economic and social poverty other kids have.

I think art center should follow its own rhetoric before it presents these 'socially aware' diatribe seminars.

Alfons Sauquet is a European by the way. All the more reason to bring some higher minded people from overseas to over here since the arrogant bumpkins over here don't seem to be all that 'socially aware'.

A $50 million design research center, designed by Frank Gehry, is planned to be built. The college has stated that the building will provide necessary space and will be built when sufficient funds have been raised. Opponents feel the money should go towards scholarships and instruction.

I'm just making my case towards schlorships and instruction.

Anonymous said...


Here's some social awareness....if you look past the drug use.

Anonymous said...

Art Center attends conferences in Barcelona and Paris because they have to start somewhere. Art Center wants a "seat at the table" with intellectual thought leaders because of the future publicity that comes with that kind of exposure. We've got expensive living habits, and we need to boost the number of wealthy kids who are just dying to attend Art Center (and have their parents pay the bill).

It's all part of a public relations strategy. The problem is that with Art Center being just a hoity-toity expensive 'specialist' college, there really is not any research or thought leadership HAPPENING at Art Center. Art Center wants to join this club because of the benefits of membership. The problem is that while were a damn good design school, we're not a research university, and we never will be. We're not part of the intellectual elite. We're small fish. We might be very good at what we do, but, let's put it this way: we're not going to be getting invites to TED.

We get in magazines under "best design schools", and that is pretty much the best we can ever expect.

The problem is that we have leadership who thinks we can "play" at the same level as a Harvard or MIT and get that kind of respect for what we do. How can we ever get anywhere like that if we don't even have tenured faculty that actually conducts research? Our grad students don't solve societal problems, they just work on an area of specialty over the course of several semesters. Face it, we're not a research school, and we'd have to be merged into a school that IS in order to infuse that kind of culture into the place.

You can't play ball with the intellectual elite if you're not actually (yourself) one in daily practice. It's like the little runt kid that follows the older kids around school, hoping to be part of their club. They'll never accept you if you are not holding your own weight.

Art Center attends these misguided events hoping to get free press hits. Unfortunately, they're spending so much money traveling to these things that any publicity gains attained are lost to the expense of traveling there.

Our putting on design conferences of our own? I suppose that if you're not getting enough invitations extended to you to speak elsewhere, then why not create your own soap-box.

Just one kid (Natahan) made quick work of Art Center's feeble attempts at gaining some street-cred. You have to actually be who you say you are, Art Center.

Ophelia Chong said...

to 10/13/08 10:37 AM

I agree. What I want to know is the value of what the overseas conferences has done for ACCD? Where is the benefit for the illustration student? Or Film Student?

Anonymous said...

At a larger institution with a more secure source of financial stability, one can make such long-term investments. If you know that you're always going to be solvent, it actually makes sense to maintain such a position. But Art Center is a fragile institution with a rather localized reach (mostly California). Money thrown into places such as Barcelona is like tossing chalk dust into the air and watching it vanish in the wind. It will never come back. There is no way to measure such misguided waste, as it is so laughable.

Anonymous said...

Is there a way to contact the new interim president? I have not found an email address yet.

From what I heard he is pretty qualified. One of the first things he said was "There are too many people working in the administration of the school". And that is RIGHT my friend.

Future of Art Center said...

A few notes:

* For those who are getting up to speed in this blog, that conference in Barcelona was last March, 2008. If you didn't read closely, the quote implied it was last week.

* The Gehry building is quite dead at this point.

* It seems like Art Center should aspire to doing research and implement a structure that supports this in the grad programs. But the discussion that needs to be had is, what kind of research should we do, who should do it, and how can it benefit the overall educational mission?

* We can only hope that the Interim President will open up the communication lines by not only providing his email, but by having some town-hall events where the community can express itself. And yes, he better do some house-cleaning in the administration to focus better on education.

Anonymous said...

Art Center is a college, not a university. Research is not something the school culture is prepared to merge with. What the hell would they research? Sustainable modeling clay?

How about we get comfortable in our own skin. It's OK to be just a really good college with a stellar reputation for preparing great graduates. Every time I see one of these foreign conference events, I get the feeling that the school's leadership is not satisfied with the accomplishments we have.

We're a school of 1,500 students. How much of a "global" reputation can anyone realistically expect us to produce? How about this instead: Own the west coast. Make California love and be proud of us, and STAY proud of us. And forget about being jealous of RISD and other schools. Focus on Art Center. Fix us internally.

Anonymous said...

To say that art has little to research and only deals with esthetics of our culture is a very limited and crude way of thinking.

There was a time when art was considered to be a form of science.

To belittle our profession is only perpetuating the stereotypes of art being little more then a fanciful notion of play.

Until you've equalled the ability of John Singer Sargent or Frank Lloyd Wright or Paul Rand, then you'll never realize the 'science' that goes into the suspension of disbelief on a two demensional surface.

The golden ratio is more then a fanciful notion, but a set of rules and proportions that repeatedly builds something our senses can't really fathom....we just know it's there, in nature, in science, in ourselves.

Art has correlations with physics, psychology, astronomy, anatomy....in nature in generally, because we see it. It's right there in front of us, and we generally try to immitate it through art.

I find that the best artists are usually the most analytical, not visceral. Art is a cognitive process, not purely emotional.

If you believe otherwise, then why go to school? Just sit at home and make whatever mess you want and call it art.

Hey, even Mark Ryden stated that he's influenced by John Singer Sargent...so don't give me this bullshit that's provincial outdated art. Frankly, I think alot of the art that is coming out of colleges is very superficial and doesn't even come close to what our predessors use to make.

Maybe it's because you're not being taught? You're being given some watered down version of an art education? You're not researching?

Anonymous said...


Listen to Myron Barnstone. He thinks you're get'n screwed by our educational system.

Basically, he saying just don't accept what you're being taught but question it and research it.

Anonymous said...

"To say that art has little to research and only deals with esthetics of our culture is a very limited and crude way of thinking."

WAITTTTTTT a minute. I did not ask what there WAS to research in the field of art and design. I'm asking what WE could possibly research. Face it, Art Center's academic street-cred is pretty dismal. So big deal, our product design students can visualize bicycles without spokes and prosthetic limbs that can enable someone to jump 150 feet up in the sky, but Art Center's entire structure is completely non-supportive of a real atmosphere of academic research. Art Center has to deal with its own inner dysfunction first. Art Center's culture is one of corporate donors (sponsored projects) that exist for PR value only. When is the last time a think-tank actually engaged the school to sit down and actually solve a problem? And don't say the UN, because that's all PR too.

Anonymous said...

You'll find "Alice in Wonderland" to be a much greater influence of Mark Ryden's paintings than John Singer Sargent. Don't confuse talent with greatness, because they are not the same thing.

By the way, I think Ryden is great, do not get me wrong.

Anonymous said...

OK dude, get back to your atelier studio classes and leave us ACCD people alone.

Philip van Allen said...

Guess I have to speak up here. In the Grad Media Design Program where I teach, we are already doing research, and talking about at conferences and in publications. It is early, and we are still developing our agendas, but I think our work demonstrates that it can happen in the context of ACCD. I'd be happy to discuss this more with anyone who would like to understand what we're up to. The definition and practice of research in the world of art and design is an emerging thing, and there are many different approaches and controversies surrounding it. But we believe that pursuing it is an essential part of any leading art & design college.


Anonymous said...

Great. Now if only the Art Center administration would administer itself responsibly. Actually, I figured I'd get a rise out of the media design guys. I perhaps should have said "with perhaps the exception of media design". But Art Center is a small enough place that it will never be known mainly for its great research. It's a college.

Now, cozy yourselves up to a Cal Tech or a USC, and you'll be getting somewhere.

Ophelia Chong said...

10/15/08 10:49 AM

That's wonderful Phil. Had the past administration offer any help? Were you involved in the past conferences?


Anonymous said...

Sounds like your department is doing some admirable work and valuable research. Good to note that this comes from the educational core (as opposed to a PR-based approach). I don't know if I'm expressing this well, but anyway...kudos to you and your dept! It's encouraging to hear about.

Philip van Allen said...

Thanks for the comments. Regarding support from the administration, perhaps surprisingly, our research direction was encouraged by the Board, Richard and Nate. They each probably had their own idea of what research is, but they all seemed to realize that the school needs to evolve and that research in the grad programs should be an important part of this.

Ophelia Chong said...

There is change in the air everywhere. And I am optimistic that we can all pull together to create an environment at ACCD that fosters creativity. But most of all, we should collaborate as a community.

It's time to turn the page.

Anonymous said...

OK dude, get back to your atelier studio classes and leave us ACCD people alone.

I don't know why you guys put down Ateliers? Alot of your ACCD alumnis are teaching here:


Hey, you guys have gotta work somewhere when you graduate. ACCD only has about a 100 instructors.

So, not all of you can teach at ACCD. Oh, and alot of you ACCD graduates teach at community colleges and even Art Institute.

I'm just stating a matter of fact.
Maybe the center of the universe is not totally at ACCD?

Anonymous said...

There was a time when ACCD was just as small as those above schools.

You can get too high and mighty with your own rhetoric after awhile.


But those schools are do'n exactly what Kevin Mack was preach'n.

jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ophelia... Thank you I appreciate as well as many other students the work you have done.

I hate to detract from this juicy subject but given the new interim leadership appointment and the recent board meeting I thing that we deserve a bit better communication about the direction of the school.

The questions listed below have been deleted twice from the ACCD official blog. Any guesses why they are so hard to answer?

Your comment is awaiting moderation. July 16th, 2008 at 10:13 pm
If the developer is to construct this building and then will be giving it to ACCD in the distant future, how do they secure their investment?
Will entering students be required to rent these lofts?
How much will the rent be?
In the meeting Richard stated there is a 9 million dollar mortgage on the South Campus. How much debt in bonds are there taken out for the South Campus?

Ophelia Chong said...

To 10/26/08 9:39 PM

My only guess (and it's a guess) is that all projects are on hold. It was on hold before the economy tanked, and now it the past three weeks, it is probably completely shelved. Financing is almost impossible for some of the larger projects in Los Angeles (ie Grand Avenue project), so I am assuming a housing project for ACCD is even further back in the line for a bank loan.

I would put all hopes in getting that question answered. And now with Dr.Ellsworth in, we can expect all projects to be reviewed.

:O) Ophelia

Anonymous said...

There is a troubling development. Michael Berman has been asked to leave. Given the nature of technology, it's dynamic, relentless forward moment, it may be a serious mistake to let him go. Too many of the faculty are Technophobes to trust. Humans / Americans are notoriously bad at looking forward and prognosticating what the future will bring. Who could conceive of the iPhone five years ago. I am fairly tech savy and I wouldn't want the job. Just as the school deserves and needs a Professional College President, it like wise deserves a Professional CTO.

Lars said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I do not know Mr Berman personally, but I do know this:

Art Center is filled with people who hold certain job titles that would not be able to work in that same capacity at any other serious educational institution. I am not sure if this is true in the case of this specific person.

I'd like to hear more about why he was asked to leave. For instance, how much money was he making versus what his contemporaries earn at other schools? What were his actual responsibilities? Were his duties ambiguous? Right now, we have a president that is going to be looking for "value added" contributors. The budget is tight and the needs are high.

Art Center does a lot of comparing itself to the tuition levels of competitor schools. But if we were to take some of the "key" positions and start making some comparisons to American academia, I think people would be shocked to discover just how overcompensated certain individuals really are. And I again must emphasize that I have no idea what the situation is with the CTO.

One of the sadder elements of this change process is: Certain things will ACTUALLY HAVE TO CHANGE.

I imagine that most of you folks went and voted for Obama yesterday. You wanted "Change". Well, this is what change looks like, and this is how change feels.

Anonymous said...

Is it really shocking that Berman was asked to leave? Back in July they appointed the CFO to head the "tech" taskforce, not the Tech VP. Wasn't that obvious?

Michael Berman said...


Obviously, I'm not an objective judge as to whether I'm compensated fairly. I can tell you I worked in a similar job at two "serious educational institutions" before I came to Art Center, most recently at Cal Poly Pomona, and I got a moderate raise when I came to Art Center.

I was told that the CTO position was eliminated and therefore I was being let go. If my salary is actually used to, for example, fix the inequities in faculty pay, or to improve the embarrassing state of the classrooms and studios, then that would be a good thing. I wish I could be confident that this was the case.

I will miss Art Center, especially the faculty and the students and their work, and the incredible hard-working people in Technology and the Library, and many of the other staff. I won't miss being on "The Bridge".

My future is bright, but I'm not so sure about Art Center. I believe that Art Center benefited from my contribution and leadership, and I think it's a mistake to have a 21st century leadership "team" with no technology vision. But it's not for me to say, I am done and on to other things, and I wish nothing but the best for the institution.

Michael Berman

Ophelia Chong said...

the task forces were put together by the last administration. it was always odd on their choices.

Thank you Michael for your work at ACCD. It's a new day, a wonderful new day forward for all of us, and it is this multi-generational multi-ethnic community that has brought us to this new day. As you take that last drive out and onto Lida Street, look forward not back, your future is in front of you.

:O) ophelia

Anonymous said...


From what I've heard, you are from the real world, and in the case of Art Center's current leadership culture (and I mean the board too), they are just far too dysfunctional to be able to work with someone of your caliber. Truly capable people are considered to be incredibly dangerous to have around in such problematic cultures.

I find it sad that they chose to eliminate the CTO position as Art Center has been historically lacking in technological vision. I remember Art Center's first "Internet Strategy", and it involved asking (hoping for) Cal-Tech to provide internet access to the school. This was at a time when every other non-profit educational institution already had internet services. Most of the people with that "vision" are still at the school today.

From afar, I can say that you obviously had a big impact on the place.

I also find it sad that they chose to start with the CTO position instead of cleaning the houses of the architecture office and the communications department. Seriously, it is a crime that Pat Oliver has any kind of job in a non-profit academic institution of this size. Art Center can't afford that kind of excess.

So Mr Ellsworth: I give you a 2 (out of 10) on your first major hatchet job at Art Center. And you only get the two points because you saved some money.

Good luck Mr Berman. Trust me, they did you a favor. I hope they at least gave you a package.

BTW, Are you able to speak about the inner workings of the bridge, or did they force you to sign a NDA before they allowed you to get severance?

Anonymous said...

Yes, things have to change, for change to actually take place. It would seem that we would want for things to change for the positive.

Dr. Berman's work had only begun. Technologically ACCD is on par with other schools for now. What about tomorrow, next year, ten years from now? Where will AC's technology be? It took several years for the ACCD website to be updated, and it is only a marginal update—the IT Dept only supports the site, they don't design it—the local community colleges have more useful websites than ACCD.

A leading edge school should provide a cutting edge experience on bleeding edge equipment. Who manages this stuff, who anticipates what's next?

There should be ACCD grads at key locations in the administration, but not at the top positions, they should high quality, experienced, professionals trained for those positions. It's like the difference between Logic Express and Logic Studio Pro. The professionals are going have a more refined clarity and resonance.

Additionally, the ACCD propaganda machine would have us believe that in order to be competent well paid designers we need a design education, yet ACCD refuses to pay decent salaries to people whom have degrees—this problem is system wide.

How can the school charge premium prices for a less than cutting edge experience?

Anonymous said...

"How can the school charge premium prices for a less than cutting edge experience?"

I dunno. How is it that Arm & Hammer still finds all of these ways to convince America that sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is this "wonder" do-all product? Great marketing and PR.

Notice that before they eliminated a position that directly benefits education (the CTO), they decided not to eliminate any architecture or communications positions (and those departments have a lot of headcount between them). Right now, they've got a very tough sell convincing kids to come spend $45K in tuition per calendar year (plus expenses). I imagine they'll be pumping more of that "saved" money into the PR machine.

Ophelia Chong said...

Tuesday Nov. 4th. The country elected a freshman senator from Illinois. Red states became blue, the "Bradley Effect" is history, we have our first African American President and the world's economy is in a crisis. Change is here.

As a community of students, faculty, administration and alumni, we can work together to create a true learning environment at Art Center. We have to stop sniping at each other, and we have to put away our own agendas. Our common ground is Art Center, and if we don't work together, there will be nothing. We are in a new age of where once thought giants are now gone. Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, the car industry, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, and it's not over yet. Art Center should not think that it will be untouched by the outside world.

Some of you may think it was myself and the students who are to blame for what is happening at ACCD, we are not. If ACCD had continued on it's path, the college would be bankrupt.

We have to be a collaborative community now, not just for Art Center but for our future in all aspects of our lives.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Why is Nate Young being paid a year-long severance when he was the one to resign?

What kind of value does that provide to the students?

P.S. I'm not bitter, just want to know the facts. It's not the Interim President's question, but one for the Trustees. Thanks.

Ophelia Chong said...

to 11/13/08 1:01 PM

how do you know that Nate Young is being paid? and if you do, what about the people who left in the last 3 months?