June 19, 2020

Designer Su Mathews Hale Named Chair of ArtCenter College of Design Board of Trustees

Robert C. Davidson Appointed Chair Emeritus Recognizing 10 Years of Leadership

Inclusion & Diversity Leader Michelle Gadsden-Williams and Google Executive Ivy Ross Join as New Board Members

As part of a commitment to diversify and strengthen its governing leadership, ArtCenter College of Design has appointed Su Mathews Hale to the position of Chair, Board of Trustees. Mathews Hale assumes the role from fellow Trustee Robert C. Davidson Jr. who has held the position for the past 10 years. As he steps down, Davidson will become Chair Emeritus. The Board also appointed two new members, Michelle Gadsden-Williams and Ivy Ross at its annual meeting.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have aligned myself with two thoughtful, experienced and dynamic Board Chairs during my time at ArtCenter—first Bob, and now Su,” said Lorne Buchman, who has served as president of the College since 2009.

“Bob took the helm in very difficult times for the College and without a doubt the ArtCenter of today is a stronger and better institution due to his leadership,” Buchman continued.

Davidson has provided a stable foundation for the College and overseen the evolution of a more diverse Board of Trustees and student body, propelled in part by the launch of new educational programs and expansion of student services and faculty resources. With the purchase of neighboring buildings and property adjacent to ArtCenter's South Campus, he has also presided over the renovation of new state-of-the-art learning and gathering spaces, and the filing of a master development plan with the City of Pasadena. Additionally, Davidson oversaw the completion of ArtCenter’s most recent fundraising campaign, raising $124 million, the largest fundraising total in the College’s history,

Now, Mathews Hale steps into the leadership role as the College is primed to reinforce its position in the higher ed landscape. The Board’s focus of late has been on developing new revenue models to mitigate the burden of tuition dependency on students and, thus, create greater access and affordability for a diverse student population of lifelong learners. ArtCenter is also laying groundwork for its next five-year strategic plan, building on the success of previous strategic plans Create Change 1.0 and Create Change 2.0. Future plans, of course, will be informed by the College’s agile response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on higher education.

“I couldn’t imagine anyone better equipped to lead us into an uncertain future,” Buchman said, “Su has a bold sensibility, she’s ready to address new challenges and ensure the College is providing students with the skills and resources they need to lead with intention in a rapidly changing world.”

Su Mathews Hale, Chair

CEO and chief creative officer of Su Mathews Hale Design, a multidisciplinary brand strategy and design consultancy, the College’s new Board Chair has worked with a breadth of notable clients, including eBay, Samsung, Citibank, Walmart, Disney, Hawaiian Airlines, Hyatt, Taco Bell and Hershey’s.

Mathews Hale has proven experience in nonprofit leadership and is president emeritus of AIGA, one of five women to hold the position in the organization’s 100-year history.

"I joined ArtCenter's Board of Trustees to make a positive impact on designers at the earliest stage of their careers,” Mathews Hale said. “Serving on the Board has given me the opportunity to use my voice to shape conversations on how we can prepare our students to not only learn how to create, but understand the powerful influence art and design can have on our society.

“Building a diverse student population is key to ArtCenter's future. As Chair, one way I will continue to address this is by working with Lorne Buchman and the Board to prioritize the challenge of tuition dependency and how ArtCenter can create greater access and affordability.

“Bob Davidson has left an indelible mark as Chair, and he will remain an important voice on the Board,” she added. “I'm thrilled to welcome and collaborate with incoming Vice Chair Linda Hill. Along with ArtCenter’s administration, faculty and board, Linda and I will support and encourage the College to examine and change its systems of inequity and provide marginalized students with an environment that is not just creative, but also inclusive and equitable."

Robert C. Davidson Jr., Chair Emeritus

A retired business executive, Davidson is currently president of R. Davidson and Associates, a management consulting firm. He joined the ArtCenter Board in 2004 and, beginning in 2010, served an unprecedented five-terms as Chair. He is the first African American to serve in this role at ArtCenter, and among the first African Americans to assume board leadership of a member institution within the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).

“I am honored to have served as Chair of ArtCenter’s Board of Trustees, which has given me an opportunity to steward this great institution for more than a decade.” Davidson said. “The trustees have been incredibly generous in donating their time, talent and treasure to the College and, collectively, helping define the future of ArtCenter.”

“It has been my pleasure to get to know Su over the last few years and I’m confident in her ability to lead the Trustees and the College going forward,” Davidson continued.

Davidson will continue in his role as a Board member and was also named Chair Emeritus in recognition of his dedicated service to the College.

New Board Members

The Board also welcomed Michelle Gadsden-Williams and Ivy Ross as its newest members, in keeping with its commitment to a diverse leadership structure at the highest level of the organization.

An exemplary role model and advocate for equality and social justice, Gadsden-Williams has worked tirelessly at refining processes, policies and programs that support an inclusive work environment. She has more than 25 years of experience as an advocate for equality within corporate America and is a thought leader around diversity and inclusion.

“I’ve been newly introduced to ArtCenter by my friend and colleague—and now fellow Trustee—Linda Hill, and am eager to leverage my expertise as a diversity practitioner to help the College achieve its goal of creating greater access for a talented and deserving student population and introducing a broader array of business, industry and cultural leaders to the possibilities inherent in an ArtCenter education,” Gadsden-Williams said.

ArtCenter Trustee and newly appointed vice chair Linda Hill, said, “I’ve been an admirer of Michelle’s work for some time and am thrilled to have her join the Board. She’s been a champion for inclusive environments and co-founded a multi-faceted business [Ceiling Breakers, LLC] focused on diversity consulting, media-driven women’s empowerment initiatives and diverse entertainment investments. It’s that same know-how and skillset that will propagate the Board’s efforts in these areas.”

Ross, who was ranked among Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business last year, is the vice president of hardware design at Google. With a background in metal work and jewelry design, she successfully crossed over into the business world, having held previous leadership positions at the Gap, Mattel and Art.com among other recognizable companies.

“Ivy represents everything we look for in new Board members,” said fellow trustee and ArtCenter alumnus Michael Warsaw who nominated her to the position. “She is an artist and designer that brings a deep expertise in creativity and innovation—themes germane to an ArtCenter education. I look forward to her ability to expand ArtCenter’s already robust connections to industry, technology and commerce as she has a keen sense of how design positively impacts business—and the world at large.”

Upon joining the Board, Ross said, “I’m already thoroughly impressed by the caliber of student work and the impressive education offered by ArtCenter. I’m eager to get to know more about the College and strengthen the relationship between creatives and industry, design and technology.”

Complete bios of all Trustees can be found on the ArtCenter website.

About ArtCenter

Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.

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Photo of Su Mathews Hale, new chair of Board of Trustees.
Designer Su Mathews Hale is the new Chair of ArtCenter's Board of Trustees.
Photo of Robert C. Davidson.
Trustee Robert C. Davidson Jr., who has held the position of Board Chair for the past 10 years, will become Chair Emeritus. Photo by Juan Posada.
Photo of Michelle Gadsden-Williams.
New ArtCenter Trustee Michelle Gadsden-Williams has worked tirelessly at refining processes, policies and programs that support an inclusive work environment.
Photo of Ivy Ross.
New ArtCenter Trustee Ivy Ross who was ranked among Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business last year, is the vice president of hardware design at Google. Photo courtesy of Google.