Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Minneapolis College of Art and Design educates individuals to be professional artists and designers, pioneering thinkers, creative leaders, and engaged global citizens.


The Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), a private, nonprofit, four-year, and postgraduate college seeks a collaborative, entrepreneurial, and strategic-minded president to lead in the shaping of its future growth. The new president will join an organization that is known for its high-quality and innovative academic programs, students first philosophy, sound financial stewardship, and its supportive and engaged learning atmosphere. The incoming leader’s overarching task will be to ensure that the institution sustains its momentum, increases its visibility and impact, and fosters learning environments that embrace the study of art and design as a social and personal endeavor. 

Building on a stable organizational foundation, the president will be expected to move forward on all fronts to position MCAD well for the future. This will mean engaging the board, staff, and faculty in discussions about priorities; finding the resources to deliver on those priorities; leveraging existing and new relationships in the Twin Cities region and elsewhere to extend MCAD’s visibility and impact; and supporting and retaining the very best faculty and staff. The president will be expected to bring vision that will fortify the college’s ability to thrive. Assuring continued robust enrollment, high quality programs and facilities, and student success will be essential charges of the next president. Advancements in diversity and inclusivity—core values at MCAD—will be central to the charge. 

MCAD has a long and rich history in the Twin Cities region. Founded in 1886 as a small school of drawing and painting, MCAD was governed for much of the 20th century by the Minneapolis Society for Fine Arts while sharing space with the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Since becoming a wholly independent nonprofit institution in 1988, MCAD has grown into a successful, stable, and fully accredited art and design college, with a current enrollment of 854 undergraduate and graduate degree-seeking students. The college’s campus is located in an historic arts district in South Minneapolis and its signature building is a bold, flexible, and light-filled modernist structure designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. The college is located in one of the country’s most arts-supportive regions. Bolstered by its robust and diverse economy, Minnesota ranks first in the nation in per-capita public funding of the arts, and Minneapolis has been named one of the top ten creative cities in the United States. 

MCAD has maintained impressive financial stability and a strong value proposition for students and families during a time of significant challenges in higher education. Despite the after-effects of the 2008 recession, the rising cost of higher education, and daunting trends in demographics, full-time equivalent enrollment at MCAD has grown by 15 percent since 2010. The most recent first- to second-year retention rate is 86 percent and MCAD’s six-year graduation rate is consistently in the 60 to 65 percent range. 

As it has grown over the years, MCAD has been a pioneer of new programs and curricula. MCAD introduced online master’s degree programs in 2000 and was one of the first AICAD institutions to institute a student laptop program, and has made substantial investments in technology for labs and classrooms. In 2006, MCAD introduced a core curriculum that integrated its strong studio programs with a thoughtful liberal arts framework complemented by practical and professional learning, including required internships for all students. In 2016-17, the college restructured and expanded its Entrepreneurial Studies Department, adding new courses to create a forward-looking undergraduate program that helps students start and run their own businesses and become effective creative leaders. In the fall of this current academic year, MCAD introduced a new undergraduate major in Product Design. Other recent innovative programmatic additions include undergraduate minors in Art History, Creative Writing, Engaged and Public Art, and Teaching Artist, affording art and design students the opportunity to develop meaningful connections between their own studio practice and teaching artist work in community and K-12 settings. 

The institution has been prudently managed, with balanced budgets. As resources have permitted, MCAD has paid careful attention to facilities renovation and maintenance of aging buildings, without incurring outsized debt. MCAD has a current operating budget of $22 million and investments of $58 million, including $49 million in endowment funds. MCAD’s long-term debt is $11.2 million, while its assets total $93.9 million. 

Recently, MCAD conducted its first-ever comprehensive capital campaign which was a significant boost for the organization. Completed in May, 2017, the Next/Now Campaign raised nearly $24 million for scholarships, academic programs, and capital projects. The funds raised enabled the first major construction project in ten years, a 13,000 sq. ft. center for media arts (M/Lab); the build-out of space for the revamped Entrepreneurial Studies program (E/Studio); and increased endowment funds for scholarships. The campaign funds raised for financial aid have helped to advance the college’s strongly held value of access and opportunity. With a discount rate of 47%, MCAD is committed to enrolling a student body that is diverse in socioeconomic background. 

MCAD seeks a president who will embrace a role as an entrepreneurial and innovative leader— an individual with a naturally respectful and accessible leadership style who has the capacity for both organizational and strategic leadership. Regardless of background or experience, the president must bring a passionate commitment to the mission and values of the organization. The MCAD ethos of ‘students first’ must guide all of the work that lies ahead. 


MCAD is a fully-accredited, four-year, private college of 854 degree-seeking students (742 undergraduates and 112 graduate and post-baccalaureate students) as well as approximately 400 continuing education students per semester and 600 students enrolled in MCAD’s summer youth and pre-college programs. Nearly one half of undergraduate students are enrolled in design majors, 38 percent in media arts, 10 percent in fine arts, and 2 percent in MCAD’s new arts entrepreneurship department. All undergraduate students must complete requirements in liberal arts and foundation studies. 

MCAD offers BFA degrees in Animation, Comic Art, Drawing and Painting, Filmmaking, Fine Arts Studio, Furniture Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Photography, Print/Paper/Book, Product Design, Sculpture, and Web and Multimedia Environments, as well as the BS degree in Entrepreneurial Studies that merges creative and business studies. Surrounded by the vibrant artistic and business cultures of the Twin Cities, professional partnerships and internship opportunities are a key facet of the undergraduate student experience. At the graduate level, MCAD offers a two-year interdisciplinary, mentor-based MFA in Visual Studies, enrolling two 20-student cohorts. The Graduate School also offers two online MA degrees, in Sustainable Design and in Graphic and Web Design. The MFA program leases space from the Minneapolis Institute of Art, in a building that is just a five-minute walk from the main campus. 

While most MCAD students come from the Upper Midwest, the college recruits nationally and internationally, attracting approximately 40 percent of its students from outside the region, with 45 states and 15 countries represented on average each year. Five percent are international students and the average MCAD student is 21 years old. Thirty-six percent of students are from underrepresented populations in the U.S., 42 percent receive the Federal Pell Grant, and 16 percent of undergraduate students are first-generation (as self-reported on the FAFSA). Sixty-four percent identify as women, 30 percent identify as men, and 6 percent identify as non-binary. 

In the college’s most recent alumni survey, 62 percent of alumni report working in a field related to their major. MCAD graduates regularly find employment in one of the several corporations headquartered in the Twin Cities, such as the Target Corporation and Best Buy; local creative agencies, such as KNOCK and mono; and local arts organizations, such as the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. MCAD graduates have been included in prominent exhibitions such as the Whitney Biennial and are routinely awarded Minnesota State Arts Board grants or recognition by arts funders, including the McKnight Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, the Bush Foundation, the Visual Arts Fund of the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, and the Guggenheim Fellowship. MCAD graduates have also been recognized for their work in film, music, and television with Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar awards and nominations. MCAD alumni participate in the life of the college through an Alumni Board and by serving as trustees, faculty, visiting artists and designers to studios and classrooms, and hosts to student interns in their businesses. 

The MCAD faculty is dynamic and high-caliber, comprised of working artists, designers, and scholars. Like its peer art and design institutions, MCAD has both a full-time faculty and a substantial cadre of part-time or adjunct faculty. Developing and supporting a high-quality and diverse faculty and staff will be a key priority for the next president. Full and part-time faculty have voted to unionize and MCAD is involved in negotiations with the union representing both bargaining units. 

MCAD is in the process of developing a facilities master plan for updates, renovation, and deferred maintenance needs that will be a guiding framework for the next five to twenty years. MCAD’s buildings were built between 1898 and 2001, thus the college is systematically tackling their maintenance needs, such as sequentially replacing 2.8 acres of leaky roofs across the 6-acre campus. Other priorities include the renovation of apartments that house freshmen and some sophomores, and the renovation and build-out of studio, lab, and classroom space for new programs such as Product Design. 

The college is governed by a 25-member board of trustees who represent the business, education, philanthropic, and arts communities of the Twin Cities as well as MCAD alumni. Each trustee serves on one or more committees which report back to the full board. The president reports to and is an ex-officio member of the board. 

The President’s Advisory Council (PAC) comprises the senior leadership of the college. This group consists of vice presidents for academic affairs, enrollment management, institutional advancement, and student affairs, as well as the chief financial officer. This is a competent and experienced team, knowledgeable in the core areas of the school and able to work collaboratively to advance the school’s mission. The vice president for academic affairs is serving as interim president while the presidential search is underway. 

MCAD is Minnesota’s only four-year independent, accredited college of art and design, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The college’s last NASAD accreditation in the spring of 2018 was very strong, with the visiting team reporting in summary that “the institution is uniquely cared for and that an extraordinary forward-looking community has been created”. The next visit of the HLC will be in 2019. 


The next president will take charge of a school with an excellent reputation, passionate students, and a sound financial position. All of these factors—coupled with MCAD’s location in a lively and livable arts-focused metropolitan area—form a strong platform for growth. 

To keep its competitive edge, the college recognizes the need to set ambitious strategic goals for the future, to hone its distinctive identity even further, to more clearly articulate the competitive advantage and purpose offered by an MCAD education, and to strategically build and support programs that strengthen that identity. The incoming president will join, lead, and shape this conversation. 

The college will continue to look beyond MCAD’s walls for engaged partners and new ideas, and the president must embrace the ever-expanding role of artists, entrepreneurs, designers, and socially-engaged citizens. These efforts will strengthen and support curriculum innovation and student success. 

The MCAD theme of ‘creativity meets purpose’ is apt and infuses all programs. The school has been a leader in developing curriculum and opportunities that are inventive, relevant to the contemporary generation of students, and applicable to the current marketplace, while maintaining a commitment to robust fundamental training that crosses all majors. A focus for the future will be developing stronger interdisciplinary collaborations and program flexibility. MCAD is a school of art, design, and liberal arts, and a new president must value all of its disciplines. As new programs come online and grow, it will be important to define the distinctions and connections among those programs with established degree programs. 

Internally, the president must continue to foster and develop a strong and diverse senior management team and address leadership succession, as long-standing staff and faculty approach retirement. In the ongoing work of equity and inclusion at the college, MCAD has made great strides in diversifying its student population. MCAD strives to increase the diversity of its faculty and staff and to promote a curriculum that features a broader array of global perspectives in art and design. 

Above all, the next president will continue to prioritize ‘students first’. At MCAD, students join a community of artists and designers who are talented, dedicated, and push the limits, as they strive to become the authors of their own stories. The president must continue to support the total experience of students at MCAD—their personal, academic, and professional growth—so that students will leave the college with a strong internal foundation and the ability to shape their own sense of meaning and purpose in their lives, as the next generation of culture producers. 

The charge to the next president will be to:

  • Offer entrepreneurial, innovative leadership. Lead the college in identifying and advancing shared ambitious, strategic goals. 
  • Strengthen the school’s distinct identity. Articulate a clear personal and institutional vision for an MCAD education that is connected to a larger purpose in the world, thereby raising the school’s visibility and connectedness to its local and national community. 
  • Extend and expand on ongoing work at MCAD to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community in all facets of the organization. 
  • Foster a culture of philanthropy in the organization and lead the way in finding the resources for the institution’s priorities, through increased contributions and new revenue streams. 
  • Build the capacity of the board to govern effectively and serve as partners, ambassadors, and supporters of the school. 
  • Create conditions that will enhance student success. Opportunities include promoting alumni success and connections to current students, strengthening student health and wellness initiatives, and investing in the capacity of students to market themselves, their work, and their careers. 
  • Support and retain a high-quality faculty and staff. 
  • Steward financial resources responsibly. Invest in campus facilities, housing, and technology to support operations and programs. 
  • Motivate and build strong teams in pursuit of shared goals. 


The Minneapolis College of Art and Design seeks a persuasive and strategic leader who possesses the creativity, passion, energy, and managerial ability to guide MCAD through the next stages in its evolution. The successful candidate will bring many of the following qualifications, skills, and experiences to the role: 

  • A deep and enthusiastic understanding of, and commitment to, MCAD’s mission and various disciplines; strong leadership asserting MCAD’s indispensable role in the future of art and design education. 
  • A bridge builder with a record of inspirational and accessible leadership; a genuine enthusiasm and ability to serve as a visible and compelling advocate for and embodiment of MCAD to a variety of audiences. 
  • A proven record of strategic and effective leadership and administrative management in a complex environment; a record of successful partnership with a board and equally effective support and management of a senior leadership team. 
  • Experience working collaboratively with faculty and staff and helping both to achieve productive, meaningful outcomes in their work. 
  • Expertise in working with a team to lead successful fundraising efforts and campaigns; representing MCAD compellingly to prospects and donors; developing strategies that will support ambitious philanthropic goals; and energizing alumni and other stakeholders to support and champion the institution. 
  • The financial acumen necessary to fulfill short- and long-term financial obligations, efficiently and effectively allocate resources, anticipate future funding needs, and guide an institution in a fiscally responsible way, through periods of both uncertainty and stability. 
  • Excellent communication skills with the ability to energize and inspire faculty, students, staff, parents, alumni, trustees, and external stakeholders, and to persuade audiences locally, nationally, and internationally to believe in MCAD’s future; a collaborative, inclusive, transparent, and good-humored leadership style with a willingness to consult and listen; the highest standards of ethics and integrity.
  • A deep and proven commitment to diversity and inclusion; experience working with and engaging diverse faculty, students, staff, and communities; and the capacity to create a harmonious, safe, and supportive environment that welcomes and respects all people, including but not limited to those who represent all racial, ethnic, religious, gender, gender-presentation, sexuality, geographic, cultural, ability, and socioeconomic groups. 


Confidential inquiries, nominations, and/or resumes with cover letters may be directed electronically to: 

Sheryl Ash, Partner
Ben Tobin, Managing Associate
Carrie Alexander, Senior Associate
Isaacson, Miller

MCAD is an equal opportunity employer and educator.