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Minneapolis, MN—Monday, August 27, 2018—The Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) Board of Trustees has named Karen Wirth to serve as Interim President of the college, effective September 15. Wirth will serve in this role while MCAD conducts a nationwide search for a new permanent president.

“Karen Wirth brings a wealth of experience to the President’s position. She is uniquely qualified for this leadership role as she has served as the Vice President of Academic Affairs for the last seven years overseeing faculty, curriculum, and academic facilities, staff, and budgets,” said Greg Heinemann, Chair of the MCAD Board of Trustees.

“Karen will complement the strategic initiatives that are already in place and move the institution forward with a thorough understanding of the challenges ahead. We are confident that Karen will ensure a seamless transition, maintain the momentum established, and bring a fresh perspective to her new role,” said Heinemann.

“The arc of my career has provided me with rich experiences through which I have developed the qualities to be the Interim President,” stated Wirth. “A vision for an engaged art and design community, a strong commitment to the disciplines with extensive involvement in interdisciplinarity, a firm belief in the power of art and design to change lives and the larger culture, the knowledge that an active research agenda and quality teaching are mutually reinforcing, and the conviction that students are central to everything we do.”

Wirth’s academic experience is extensive, having held a deep and lifelong commitment to teaching and education. She has served in leadership roles at MCAD for fifteen years. She has an equally impressive professional presence as a studio artist and situational designer, with a portfolio ranging from artists’ books to installation and sculpture.

Wirth will succeed President Jay Coogan who accepted a position as president of IYRS School of Technology & Trades in Newport, Rhode Island.

The MCAD Board of Trustees has named Isaacson, Miller to conduct the national search for the next permanent president of the college.

Karen Wirth Background

Karen M. Wirth, who currently holds the position of Vice President of Academic Affairs at MCAD, was hired in June 2012 after a nationwide search. Wirth has been a professor at the college since 2003 when she was hired as the Chair of Fine Arts. Prior to MCAD, she was the Dean and Chair of Fine Arts at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul.

Wirth is a recipient of both the Bush Leadership Fellowship and the American Council on Education (ACE) Higher Education Leadership Fellowship, which included a year-long placement at The New School: A University in New York, with mentoring by the Provost of the university and the Executive Dean of Parsons School of Design. The Bush Leadership fellowship project focused on broadening academic connections to community and deepening the experience of arts in the wider culture.

An accomplished artist, Wirth co-designed four of the Minneapolis Blue Line light rail transit stations and served as the artist administrator for the conceptual design phase. She co-designed and co-fabricated the Gail See Staircase at Open Book in Minneapolis. Wirth has received artist fellowships from the Bush, McKnight, and Jerome Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, NY State Council the Arts, and Minnesota State Arts Board. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including at the Smithsonian Institution and the Walker Art Center, and through the US State Department. Her artist’s books are held in public collections that include the Museum of Modern Art Library, the Getty Center, and Yale University. A contributor to such publications as the Journal of Artists’ Books, Places, and Bound & Lettered, Wirth is also a founding board member of the College Book Art Association and served on the board of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

Wirth received an MFA in sculpture from the University of Minnesota and a BFA in art education from the University of Wisconsin. Certified to teach K–12 art, Wirth has taught at every level from preschool to graduate school. Previous teaching experience includes studio teaching at the University of Minnesota, museum education for the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and eight years teaching K–12 art in D.C. and San Diego.

About the Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Recognized nationally and internationally for its innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to visual arts education, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) is home to more than 750 students and offers bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and continuing education classes for all ages. The campus is located just south of downtown Minneapolis and is composed of eight buildings and three acres of lawn and gardens. College facilities contain the latest in technology with multiple studios and labs open 24/7.