feature / alumni / diversity / influencing-change
September 22, 2022

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Influencing Change: DEI at ArtCenter – September 2022

Back to School

There's something inspiring about September—the buzz of students returning to the classroom swirls at schools everywhere. At ArtCenter, this season is especially significant. 

Earlier this month, we hosted our first in-person Orientation in two years, expertly organized by Celeste Guarneri, associate director for leadership programs, and our Center for the Student Experience (CSE) team. We also welcomed the largest incoming class in ArtCenter history. It was also the first time our new president, Karen Hofmann, had an opportunity to address an incoming class as she shared on her new Instagram account.

I'm thrilled to see so many new students join ArtCenter’s community; I truly can't wait to watch your creative journey unfold. 

Additionally, we were delighted to partner with CSE in preparing our orientation leaders to welcome a diverse community to ArtCenter. Our facilitator and longtime partner Sai Isoke lead students through an ally and pronoun workshop. 

Here's what orientation leader Vicki Lynn said of the experience: “I was reminded how important pronoun usage was, and how important it was for students to feel safe and comfortable in our academic environment.”

This term, we plan to host a series of workshops related to disability and accessibility. Additionally, you can reach out to us if you’d like to have a personalized workshop for your department. With that in mind, I'd like to extend a special invitation to events and initiatives we have in the works.  

We’re welcoming instructors who will bring new points of view to our classrooms. 

Aaron I. Bruce, MIBA, Ph.D., Chief Diversity Officer

New Views

We’re welcoming instructors who will bring new points of view to our classrooms. As I shared in our first DEI newsletter, last fall ArtCenter started a comprehensive search to hire six new faculty to expand the perspectives available at ArtCenter, and advance more just, equitable futures within and beyond the College community. 

This fall, I'm pleased to welcome distinguished writer, educator and designer Cheryl Miller to the Graphic Design department. Here’s what Sean Adams, chair of our Graphic Design department, had to say about Cheryl joining us: 

"Cheryl is one of my all-time heroes. I’ve been in awe of the work she started over two decades ago to correct the lack of representation of Black designers in the historical canon. It’s challenging to remain creative, maintain a business, and manage day to day life as a designer. Cheryl did all of this, and then added pioneering work with DEI. We are blessed to have her as part of the ArtCenter Graphic Design family."

I'd like to echo Sean's sentiment in welcoming new creatives to our ArtCenter family.

Photo Finish

Following an international search, ArtCenter recently announced award-winning photographer and educator Everard Williams as the new chair of our Photography and Imaging department. He’s the first African-American to serve as an undergraduate department chair in the College’s history, joining Graduate Art Chair Stan Douglas, representing a concentrated effort by the College in recent years to expand faculty and educational leadership perspectives that better reflect and support an increasingly diverse student body.

In an announcement to the ArtCenter community, Interim Provost Dr. Anne Burdick said, “The search committee demonstrated the best of what an international search can do for ArtCenter by bringing a world-class group of candidates to the College for us to interact with and learn from. As a result, we can trust that in Everard, we have the best possible candidate for the job.” Check out the press release for more info about Everard and what he brings to the role.

The Future is Feminist

By gathering a group of feminist, queer and trans artists working in a range of mediums, Cantos of the Sibylline Sisterhood conjures a feminist future and explores boundaries of power and identity. I encourage you to read our Dot story about the new exhibition, on view at ArtCenter’s Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery, and experience a world crafted by 10 emerging artists where different identities are not considered a threat.

Trailblazing Designers

This year, ArtCenter’s Nissan Diversity Scholarship was awarded to Transportation Design students Helen Zhang and Preston Sanchez. Each received a $10,000 scholarship toward their education, and I look forward to seeing more of their compelling designs. We’re grateful to Nissan Design America for their generous and continued support of our innovative students.

For our Jewish community, the important High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah (September 25–27), the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur (October 4–5), the Day of Atonement, are approaching, along with the holidays Sukkot (October 9–16), commemorating the harvest, shelter and protection; and Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torach (October 16–18), a time of remembrance and renewal. As a reminder, students, faculty and staff may be taking time off around this time to reflect and observe. 

This month also marks the start of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Observed by millions of people across East Asia, often by moon gazing and displaying lanterns, this piece details the many celebrations and traditions the holiday holds.

I look forward to all the new school season has to offer us.

Aaron I. Bruce, MIBA, Ph.D.

Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer
ArtCenter College of Design