Jay Coogan


July 2018

Dear MCAD Community,

At the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, our guiding value to education is to put students first. My top priority as president is to keep MCAD affordable and accessible to any students talented and driven enough who want to succeed as professional artists and designers. Since 2010, the college has more than doubled the amount of scholarship aid available to students. More than 95 percent of current students receive financial aid via grants or scholarships. This helps not only a vast majority of our students but particularly the more than 40 percent of students who are from lower income families.

While at MCAD, students have 24/7 access to facilities. Class sizes are kept small to ensure that every student receives individualized attention and instruction. MCAD’s unique approach to education stresses the importance of learning through making. MCAD students are taught creative literacy, critical thinking, artistic technique, design thinking, and key entrepreneurial skills. They are taught to combine creativity and their developing skills with their own unique sense of purpose. We believe they have the ability to create meaning in their lives, rather than having meaning created for them.

The college is also dedicated to providing innovative programming that uses current digital technologies and design processes. MCAD offer state-of-the-art animation and media facilities, we utilize 3D printing technology beginning in the foundation year, and we have spaces that allow students to explore ideas about entrepreneurship within spaces that encourage collaboration and work with outside clients. Last year we created new dedicated spaces for our entrepreneurial studies program which helps bring business and marketing skills to those majors and any student at MCAD who enrolls in those courses. At the same time, we expanded and upgraded the animation facility.

I am also very excited to announce the launch of a new product design program at the college, led by industrial designer Gabriel Ruegg. Gabe taught the first product design course this past spring. The curriculum that he is developing is a rich blend of product design, design thinking, human factors, and entrepreneurial skills designed to help students develop product ideas into business start-ups or to launch them into careers in product design across the country. We are thrilled that MCAD has a major funding partner—Target has gifted MCAD $250,000 to help develop the program through scholarships, equipment purchases, and a design-focused lecture series.

MCAD values also extend beyond the border of the campus and into the broader community. From our teaching artist and engaged and public arts minors to grant-funded community engagement programs, MCAD students can be found providing free arts programming for kids transitioning out of homelessness, working with deaf Muslim students, creating murals across Minneapolis, and even designing better visual systems for voting. MCAD students make an impact through socially engaged work locally, nationally, and internationally.

While MCAD is an institution of higher education, more importantly, it’s a community of people dedicated to the idea of the power of the creative spirit. We believe art has the power to transform lives and communities. I have seen it over and over again during my career as an artist, teacher, and administrator. And, I see it every day at MCAD.

Creative literacy, problem-solving, entrepreneurial spirit, and a commitment to innovation: these are at the core of MCAD’s art and design education. Collectively, they demonstrate the true value of MCAD’s art and design education.


 Coogan's Signature

Jay Coogan

This letter originally appeared in the 2018 issue of NEXT, the magazine of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

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