Clockwise from top left: Board Chair Greg Heinemann and Interim President Karen Wirth at the 2019 Scholarship Luncheon; Wirth congratulating Hanqing Jin at the Fall 2018 Commencement Ceremony; Precious Wallace ’17 and Wirth at the 2018 Art Sale; the President's Advisory Council: (left to right) Joy Brathwaite, Cindy Theis, Gerald Ronning, Wirth, Melissa Huybrecht, Sarah Harding, and Jen Zuccola.
Clockwise from top left: Board Chair Greg Heinemann and Interim President Karen Wirth at the 2019 Scholarship Luncheon; Wirth congratulating Hanqing Jin at the Fall 2018 Commencement Ceremony; Precious Wallace ’17 and Wirth at the 2018 Art Sale; the President's Advisory Council: (left to right) Joy Brathwaite, Cindy Theis, Gerald Ronning, Wirth, Melissa Huybrecht, Sarah Harding, and Jen Zuccola.
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May 3, 2019

Gallery lighting is checked. Pedestals are painted. Invitations are designed. Graduating students are scrambling to finish their work for the commencement exhibitions, and graduate students are also defending their theses. Portfolios are completed, and employers are checking them out at the annual Emerging Talent Showcase. Final projects are being critiqued, with many all-nighters to get them ready. Studios are in chaos, and too many energy drinks are being consumed. Pizza pizza pizza.

The end of the semester is a mix of activity and anticipation. As with all things, the finale is also a beginning, for our students and for the college. This will be my last newsletter from the President’s Office. It has been a busy year of transition. Transit is an active noun: the act of passing across or through; passage from one place to another. MCAD is ever-moving and changing, with hundreds of people working together to ensure its success.

We completed a three-year strategic plan, MCAD 2021, as well as a long-term master plan for capital projects, both of which were approved by the Board of Trustees this past December. We are finessing our academic and institutional learning outcomes, updating handbooks and policies, and preparing for our next regional accreditation visit this coming September. We are gearing up for an exciting capital project this summer, which includes moving and upgrading the fitness center, making space for and adding equipment to the 3D Shop, and building a classroom and studio space in the 3D area. We have been scoping out ways to improve the College Center and food service. We have beta tested a new learning management system for MCAD’s online classes and are working through the idiosyncrasies of a new payroll system.

Four diversity, equity, and inclusion committees were formed, comprising faculty, staff, and students, which have met throughout the year to review and make proposals in four areas: community engagement, policy and process, programming, and wellness culture. Those proposals are informing our direction for next year and beyond. All of this is of course in addition to providing many hundreds of classes and multiple times as many demonstrations and critiques for our more than 800 students. To serve those students and the always-evolving curriculum, department chairs and faculty conducted searches for five new full-time faculty members.

And while all of this was happening, the college embarked on a search for the next president of MCAD. Led by the Board of Trustees and guided by the national search firm Isaacson, Miller, the search committee included faculty, alumni, staff, and student representatives. As recently announced, we are so pleased to welcome Sanjit Sethi to lead the next era for MCAD. An artist and educator with more than twenty years of leadership roles in higher education, he is well-positioned to build on the college’s success and advance it in new directions. I look forward to working with Sanjit as I move back to the position of vice president of academic affairs next year.

In this year as interim president, I have been fortunate to really witness how an institution works in its entirety and to be a part of an incredible team of people who care deeply about it. I want to thank Board Chair Greg Heinemann and the Board of Trustees for their support as we continued to move the college agenda forward during this year of transition. The board’s serious interest in the well-being of the college was manifested in thoughtful queries and open conversations. The President's Advisory Council has acted as a trusted think tank and has made so much possible: thank you to Joy Brathwaite, Sarah Harding, Melissa Huybrecht, Gerald Ronning, Cindy Theis, and Jen Zuccola. A special thank you to Gerald Ronning for stepping into the role of interim vice president of academic affairs this year and to Gretchen Gasterland-Gustaffson as the interim chair of liberal arts.

To everyone at the college—I have felt your support, and I thank you deeply for the work you do. Everything we do here is a team effort, and it’s our collaboration that makes MCAD the strong, heathy, and forward-thinking college that it is. Many thanks to you all.

Karen Wirth
Interim President

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