MCAD President Jay Coogan Will Step Down This Fall
MCAD President Jay Coogan Will Step Down This Fall

July 30, 2018

Dear MCAD Community,

I am writing to inform you of my decision to step down as President on September 14, 2018, after nine years of an amazing and rewarding experience leading Minneapolis College of Art and Design. At the same time, I am excited to share the news that I have accepted a position beginning this fall as President of IYRS, School of Technology & Trades which is situated on a beautiful state-of-the-art waterfront campus in Newport, Rhode Island. From a foundation of world-renowned maritime manufacturing, IYRS is pioneering a new approach to higher education and experiential learning. I’m thrilled to be leading this effort.

I have had a wonderful experience at MCAD and treasure the opportunities that I have had for nine years leading this great college of art and design. I am pleased to announce that Vice President of Academic Affairs Karen Wirth will be stepping forward as interim president. Karen has been an extraordinary partner in shaping the educational environment for our students. Gerald Ronning, Chair of Liberal Arts, will be taking over Karen’s role. I know the school will do well in their capable hands as it conducts a search for a new president.

During my time, I have served with the guidance of six board chairs with whom I have developed close relationships. I have great admiration for the passion and wisdom with which they have led MCAD and its Board of Trustees. The entire membership of the MCAD Board has also been a remarkably supportive and dedicated group. They have helped intellectually and financially to support the college’s aspirations and acted as ambassadors to raise the profile of MCAD in our community.

I have also been blessed to work with an incredible faculty and staff at MCAD. They are smart and hardworking often stretching beyond expectations to make that extra difference both for the students and the college. Everyone at MCAD is truly committed to our value of placing students first through providing and supporting a dynamic educational experience both in and outside the classroom and studio.

During my tenure at MCAD, we have accomplished many important strategic goals for the college. Foremost is the completion of MCAD’s first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign that raised nearly $24M. This helped the college add more than $8M to scholarships, build out two fully donor-funded program facilities, M/Lab and E/Studio, as well as provide support for our academic programs and annual college needs. Our commitment to accessibility and affordability for students has resulted in more than doubling financial aid and funded scholarships during my nine years at MCAD.

We have also made great strides in academic programming by introducing a product design program, online MA’s in Sustainable Design and Graphic and Web Design, four new minors, and made countless positive changes to our academic offerings. In total, we have made $17M worth of improvements to the campus and its facilities as well as major investments in digital technology for our educational programs and improved technology services.

We have raised MCAD’s profile through creating a new identity for MCAD and developing the NEXT magazine. We have also raised the MCAD profile by creating the President’s Circle and consistently raising $1.5M in annual funds. The reach and financial success of the Art Sale, our most visible event in the Twin Cities, has grown dramatically with more than $180,000 in our Endowed Art Sale Scholarship Fund and well over $1M going directly to students and young alumni in the last nine years. The Art Auction has raised more than $950,000 for new scholarships since we started it six years ago.

Our students, through the curriculum and summer projects, have worked on international partnership projects in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, and Turkey.  We have had studio projects with Allina Health, 3M, Best Buy, Medtronic, and Target. Through DesignWorks we redesigned voter signage for the city of Minneapolis that is now going statewide, and in addition the college has worked on projects with a range of local partners, such as Hennepin Library, Hennepin County, Youthlink, Pillsbury House, and MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids to name a few. Our students have had countless internship experiences with area and national agencies, businesses and non-profits including our two largest cultural neighbors Mia and the Walker Art Center. And, our students have worked in our immediate community with the Whittier Alliance, Simpson Housing, and the Native Youth Arts Collective. All of these projects have enriched the educational experience of our students and made a difference in our communities.

MCAD has also had two successful reaccreditation visits with the Higher Learning Commission and most recently the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. We have had excellent financial ratings from outside agencies and clean audits since I have been president. MCAD has been able to do all of this because we have well-managed educational programs and budgets and a community of supporters who recognize the value of MCAD and step up to fund our students and MCAD’s mission. None of this could have been accomplished without the amazing team that helps to lead the college.

I have been deeply touched by the many students who have graduated and the relationships I have with faculty and staff. I will miss MCAD and Minneapolis. With a Campus Master Plan and a three-year Strategic Plan in process, I believe MCAD is well poised for its next level of success under a new president.