Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Serious Trash

[UPDATE: June 7, 2008. I have started posting on the Future of Art Center blog, and encourage the dialogue to shift over there. For those joining the conversation, there is a post summarizing events so far]

Serious Play was the latest in a series of bi-annual conferences hosted by Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, around the theme ‘Stories from the Source.’ It is part of an initiative from the top brass to position Art Center as a forward thinking school in competition with schools like Carnegie Mellon, Stanford D and others, equipping students with cross-disciplinary tool kits for the world of tomorrow.

As stated by Richard Koshalek, President of Art Center, Serious Play is an important event that strategically places Art Center within the global community of design and education. And as he quoted Erica Clark (the other person responsible for the ‘Stories from the Source’ Series), “isolation breeds irrelevance.”

Well, as a student of Art Center, and as a participant in the conference, I have a story, from the source. Art Center is in danger of becoming highly irrelevant to the very world it is trying to influence. This conference, along with Art Center’s ‘Sustainability Summit,’ is an example of Art Center continuing to present two separate faces to the world. While touting its desire to be a leader that prepares students for the world tomorrow, Art Center lacks any understanding of what that world will be. Or at least, lacks the legs to walk the path it loves to talk about.

Anyone who attended the Sustainability Summit was lucky enough to drink from glass cups and eat off ceramic plates for the dinners and snacks provided throughout. They also had the option of some recycling bins to place recyclable trash accumulated over the few days. Unfortunately, the people attending the three-day summit had more options to recycle and be responsible than the students who attend Art Center on a daily basis. The Art Center Cafeteria still uses Styrofoam plates, in spite of numerous efforts by select faculty and students for two years to change this. We know how to change this. We also know how to reduce the amount of waste we generate. And we know how to substantially improve our recycling rate beyond the standard 50%. Money has been cited as the limiting factor to this, but I can respect that only so much.

Student tuition has been raised 5% consistently over these past two years so that Art Center can “remain competitive,” or so the little letter I receive in the mail states. Well, I’m glad someone in Art Center was able to find the $385,068 in 2005 to pay Gehry Partners to design our new “advanced technical center.” A facility that has yet to break ground, and will not be finished before any attending student graduates. With a net loss of $128,955 reported in 2005, it’s not surprising that the 2008 Car Classic got cancelled. For that much money, we could hire an entry level Senior Officer who advises solely on Sustainability, and one-day work their way up to our President’s $439,950 2005 compensation. I haven’t seen the latest Form 990 from Art Center I’ll be naively optimistic and hope that these prices have been adjusted to remain “competitive.”

I’m not saying that it is as simple as cutting our president’s salary in half. I respect that he was worked hard to get where he is, and this is his earned compensation. I could simply not pay my tuition, as the popular thing to do now is “vote with my wallet.” That would take me out of their conversation completely (though one in which I feel I am already ignored to a serious degree). That option is comparable to walking away from the negotiation table before everyone has been invited. We have to affect change in our immediate spheres of influence. We have to be willing to make an effort. And I would very much like a return on my investment so far.

I want a degree, I want it to come from a place I respect, and will continue to respect in the future. I fell in love with Art Center before knowing its problems. The face that I fell in love with still exists, there’s just a bit more to her than I first realized. True to that love, I want to help out, if only my partner would admit to the problem and make an effort her self. Art Center is infamous for being demanding and destroying the relationships of its student body, but I think this is one relationship I can do something about. I just need a little help myself figuring out how to do so. And then maybe together walk the talk, hand in hand.

Information from:

Art Center Waste Stream Analysis 2007

Art Center 2005 Tax Form 990

Art Center Tuition Raise Information Letter


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Ophelia Chong said...

RIGHT ON!!! as an alum i have seen the tuition rise beyond what is reasonable for most people. Serious Play? what we need is that money to go to fixing up the campus, scholarships for students who need it (brilliant kids are being lost because of the tuition, instead we are building a student body of okay artists with backing). I could go on. Great post. :O) ophelia

wakako takagi said...


Just posted my thought on this.

Andy said...

This is an articulate and impassioned critique. I totally support you Nathan -- be encouraged that there are many others like you at Art Center who are truly baffled and frustrated by obvious eco-hypocrisy.

stan said...

you have embarked on a noble mission and i completely support you. i'm glad you've found the moral courage to take on the system in hopes of steering art center in a direction that is relevant and back to the school we all love. you exemplify the student that art center strives to create.

hopefully, as you move forward, their will be others that will join your cause.

Anonymous said...

Art Center has always been a place where the cost vs what you get has been a question to me. As an alumni seeing tuition skyrocket out of control saddens me.

During my circa, the excuse for rising costs was the sister school in Vevey. The school was closed and the tuition increase did not subside, sadly we lost a great opportunity to learn about design in a great environment.

I applaud your thoughts, I do however think that as you move forward you should step back a bit, organize your thoughs and come back at this.

Some of your points come off more as fragmented rants. It starts off with a journey into what Art Center wants to become, I am thinking about its technological advances and then there is a rant on money being spent to do just this.
I think all your points are valid, I just think towards the end there are too many negative points brought up at once and it falls into an abyss of complaining.

It seems is not your point at all. You want solutions.


Simon Ko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon Ko said...

sorry for the previous delete. my words simply weren't as articulate as yours, but know i share your frustration to the very last point.

if action were to take place, you would have many supporters.

Anonymous said...


I sincerely applaud you for your effort and wish you happy hunting. As a graduate of Art Center I can tell you that I myself found it frustrating to go through Art Center's Political games. My group and I would always complain as we were shocked at some of the most pathetic explanations to many of our problems, so it is nice to hear of someone finally trying to do something about it.

I am one of those people who fell in love with the school and the quality of work it stood for even before I could draw a basic shape of a car. Sadly I do not miss Art Center, and I do not go near it if I can avoid it. Towards, the end of my Art Center Career my group and I felt that people were being accepted merely to bring in more money to the school's financial pockets. Even now that I am gone I am still paying for a class I took senior term (graduated 2006).

I feel Art Center is that relationship that you are attracted to right of the bat, later to find out that she cheats by putting restrictions and accounting mistakes that are never her fault but yours. A gold digger that uses your money to impress others with fancy lunches and dinners while giving you left overs and refried beans. And once you dump her and become successful, she comes back and tells you that you owe her because you would not be what you are today if it wasn't for her.

Best of luck to you, and give them hell at the Battle Field.


shoji said...

I'm glad you posted something addressing this. I agree with fisa that you do have a few fragmented thoughts towards the end of your post, but I don't blame you. Even keeping a straight mind set when considering all the ACCD hypocrisy is enough to get someone to go off. You could dedicate individual posts on ACCD's 'justified' tuition increases, to their eco hypocrisy, to the inner faculty/student/administration politics that everyone tries not to get involved with, but no one tries to resolve.

There's a lot to be said about that school and it's a damn shame that the students aren't rallying together to make some serious change. I get that people who pay over 14k a term would expect the administration to 'figure it out and get it right' for them, but when it's not happening you can't just sit back and shrug it off to 'it sucks but that's what it is.'

Motivate and make a change. Student life + ACSG + student body need to work together to find some solutions. ACCD shouldn't be resisting as much as they do. They should be proactively supporting the needs and rational demands of the students, and implementing the appropriate changes.

You can only coast on your reputation for so long before it becomes apparent to the public how defunct the inner workings of the system really are.

When people don't practice what they preach then they shouldn't keep preaching. They should sit down and take some notes.

Keep it up Nathan, but don't let it get you down.

lance charles said...

Yes very good work. I've waiting to hear a voice like yours since graduating ACCD in 98.

I designed the WhoEarth System to help simplify the vast nature of sustainability.

I felt as though no one at ACCD really cared about what I was doing.

It wasn't about toxic plastic, "High tech materials" or cool looking widgets.

My program at ACCD focused like a laser on whole systems design and sustainability.

I've been waiting for this and I glad to join you in a pursuit to make ACCD the leader in all things sustainable.

It's simple good for the environment and all living things or NOT.

Does your design benefit Life?

Or does it cause harm?
Lance Charles envl98

Anonymous said...

You students don't realize how much power you have, if united. Get together, and you can make change.

Yesterday Nate Young, Art Center's Executive Vice President for Education, was forced to resign in a stand-off with the college's president, Richard Koshalek, over the latter's preference for spending Art Center money on conferences, travel, and celebrity architects. Young lost his job fighting to keep education as Art Center's priority.

Now Koshalek has requested the trustees to grant him another several years after his contract ends in September '09. They will decide at the Board meeting in June.

Without the protection against retaliation that Academic Tenure provides (Art Center has no tenure), the faculty have no effective voice in criticizing administration and trustee decisions. You students have a voice, if only you would use it -- let it be heard, communicate your feelings to fellow students, the administration, and the trustees!

Anonymous said...

here's what richard said

"Art Center is looking to instill in students a sense of purpose. We want them to devise ways of applying their excellence in design disciplines to find solutions to humanitarian and environmental problems."

maybe he's talking about the water-free urinals in the restrooms? or hiring gehry to build another eye-sore on the hills of pasadena. But then again, prospective students and parents won't have any problems locating the school. the school secretary will say something like "just follow the beam of light reflecting off the hills. you can't miss it!"

on a serious note, art center requires all writing studio students to write an essay (pretend design proposal leter to the president) about sustainability at art center. why? imagine how much trash was created in doing this assignment.

- george w. bush

ps. maybe i'll spend my $600 economic stimulus check on my tuition. maybe not.

Jamie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dahlia said...

very well said -- on many levels. not just at addressing the hypocrisy of styrofoam and no recycling at a school which preaches "going green," but also the focus of a school on its public face first, before actually evaluating its educational potential. nate young's resignation is a terrible indicator of this new direction of art school. all flash, no substance. i wonder if anyone at la weekly cares about this?

kc said...

Nate Young's departure is a tragedy. His years as a student, successful designer, trustee and educational leader are the epitome of the best leadership Art Center could have. Somehow over the last nine years we've strayed from our mission.

Tuition is spent on meaningless projects, conferences, world tours, and books no one wants to buy or read.

Didn't we receive self congratulatory emails about the $60million raised for endowment and scholarship. Where are the scholarships? If the endowment is invested properly, why the continuous increases in tuition.

Why do we need new buildings when the ones we have are in terrible disrepair? I think I know what Art Center's Green Initiative is: money for Administration to spend. Barcelona has 4 star hotels and restaurants and one simply must be seen there!

Anonymous said...


Thank you for opening this dialog. I believe what all of us want is change. In order for that to happen, we need to have a voice. As someone already said, faculty, and staff as well, have to fear retaliation. Students and alumni are our only hope.

Not too long ago there was another art institution up on a hill. It overlooked the ocean. It too had a Board of Trustees that was unaware of what was actually going on. They only heard what the president and senior staff told them. They approved all manner of acquisitions and expenditures. All was well on the hill.

But, somehow the media got wind of lavish expenses and travel and questionable dealings. A non-profit designation also carries responsiblities to the public at large. In return for income tax exemptions there must be public good and adherence to stringent rules on how funds are spent.

Once the L.A. Times started investigating and writing stories, the Board took note. Today the Getty has new leadership.

Wouldn't that be nice? With your voices all could be well on our hill, too.

Anonymous said...

finally someone is blogging about ACCDs problems. I was a grad student there a few years back and I must say that the manner of communicating Young's resignation sounds familiar. During my time there, an email was sent out mid semester that the chair of my department was going on a "sabbatical" for an undetermined amount of time. Of course it meant he was fired. I found out that it was due to student complaints of an inability to access full time faculty while paying such a hefty tuition. (It is my belief that Koshalek used this student action as a means to remove the chair.) When I asked around about why the constant increases in tuition and the endowment, faculty mmbrs said we did not have an endowment at the time. (this was 5 yrs ago) ACCD lives a hand-to-mouth existence it seems- fr one tuition check to the next. I applaud your efforts for change. Just be careful - one of my peers actually became ill due to the stress of trying to mobilize the students and navigate the quagmire of an administration.

Anonymous said...

Let's be accurate -- Art Center does have an endowment now, and it did 5 years ago. Koshalek has had some success in raising money for the school, and for scholarships. But he's diverted millions for his personal projects like conferences, Barcelona, travel, and the empire of buildings he wants to construct. Anyone use the infamous Sinclair Pavilion student lounge lately? What a joke -- that was a $million+ PR fiasco. All those monies have been taken out of the educational equation.

Write the trustees! Let's get their names and addresses posted here. Here's one:

Kit Hinrichs
Pentagram Design, San Francisco

Demand that they:

1. Reinstate Nate Young.
2. Allow Koshalek's contract to run out as currently scheduled, in Sept. '09.

Now, Nathan -- IMPORTANT. If you experience any retaliation from the administration for hosting this blog, post it here. We'll take it straight to the newspapers.

Anonymous said...

before we start finger pointing, i think we should gather more information about these issues so we can take proper action.


1) where is my tuition going?
2) are faculty members? compensated fairly?
3) stanford and other elite institutions are providing free education to those in need.

"(02-19) 23:49 PST Palo Alto -- In a radical change to its financial aid program, Stanford University will announce today that it will no longer charge tuition to students whose families earn less than $100,000 a year.

In addition, the university will waive room and board fees for students whose families earn less than $60,000 a year.

University President John Hennessy will make the announcement today on campus, university Provost John Etchemendy confirmed late Tuesday.

The university is making the change in the wake of published reports last month that its endowment had grown almost 22 percent last year, to $17.1 billion. That sum had begun to attract attention from lawmakers who want wealthy institutions to do more to reduce tuition costs.

Financial aid also will increase to families that make more than $100,000 a year.

"Thanks to our increasingly generous financial aid program ... attending Stanford will cost less than most private and many public universities," Etchemendy said.

To pay for the new tuition assistance, the university said it will increase its annual endowment payout to 5.5 percent. The new plan, which begins in the 2008-09 academic year, eliminates the need for student loans for qualifying students."

4) what is our current endowment and is this something artcenter is even considering in the future?

5) the truth behind nate young's departure?

6) i would like you to elaborate more on what accd could/should do to become a true leader in sustainability.

with more factual information at hand, we could distribute the information to our fellow students and take action from there.

- george w. bush

ps. i used the sinclaire pavilion last week to do yoga with my fellow students. so it's not a complete waste.

Anonymous said...

GWB -- those are excellent questions, and all of them deserve clear answers.

I have one caution, however -- as a group, do not proceed with too broad an agenda. It makes it very easy for the administration to divide and conquer.

Stay on point: this crisis comes from Nate Young's resignation and the impending approval by the Board of Koshalek's request to extend his contract.

As to your question about the truth behind Nate's departure, here is what I know. Nate Young and Richard Koshalek have increasingly been butting heads over the diminishing priority education has when it comes to allocating Art Center's fiscal priorities. This dispute about priorities, by the way, was also behind Koshalek's firing last year of the college's Senior VP for funraising -- and, the abrupt resignation of her replacement (a prominent person in the fundraising world) after about seven months on the job. It was apparently also behind the recent resignation of the first truly professional Chief Financial Officer the college has ever had, after only four months on the job.

Simply put, Nate Young's contract was due to end later this year. At the same time, Koshalek had asked the Board of Trustees for an extension on his own contract, which is due to end in September of 2009. As I understand it, Young told the trustees that if they vote this June to renew Koshalek's contract, he would resign. Knowing that Koshalek would not renew Young's contract in September due to their dispute, and in the face of the Trustees apparent timidity about reigning-in Koshalek, Young elected to resign now in protest of how the college prioritizes its funding.

By the way, I'm glad to hear you used the Sinclair Pavilion for something worthwhile. Every time I walk by there, its cubbies, kitchen, and grand steps are deserted. Occasionally I see security guards there, watching TV...

Anonymous said...

This is very good advice. We need more participation. ACSG can you help? Spread the word. BTW don't post as a google blogger as your thoughts go there. Post directly to Nathan's site. You can use your name or remain anonymous.

Anonymous said...

The primary issue that the Board of Trustees needs to consider is whether or not Koshalek’s vision and execution are right for the college? Based on this, I think that most members of the ACCD community would agree that the Board should not renew Richard Koshalek’s contract.

* Moral among the staff and faculty is very low (how about the students?) - people are frustrated by significant limits on their budgets for years, a bureaucracy that seems unable to get things done, and a sense that the priorities of the college are currently not about excellent education. People are frankly afraid to speak out for fear of being fired. Moreover, there is significant concern that the school is headed for financial disaster, but in fact most don’t have a clear sense of the actual financial health of the institution because of a lack of transparency.

* The financial structure of the school is a mess. Educational and staff managers are unable to adequately manage their budgets because of poor reporting tools, arcane procedures, and poor communication.

* The South Campus has been a disaster as a facility on a far greater scale than Sinclair Pavilion. Most of the classrooms simply don’t work well for teaching. The space is significantly underutilized. And the operations of the building are a financial burden to the school without a corresponding benefit.

* Koshalek has created a reputation within the school of being volatile and unpredictable, obsessed with new architecture, approving gold plated spending that’s inappropriate for a non-profit institution, and most significant, seemingly uninterested in art and design education. The fact that 3 members of senior management have left over principals in the last year is an important indicator of poor leadership.

* The college does not need a new $75 million building. It does need to restore the iconic Ellwood building, build more studio & classroom space, resolve the parking problems, and come up with an educationally and economically coherent plan for the South complex (or sell it and concentrate on the hillside campus). In concrete educational and finacial terms, the only successful construction effort in the Koshalek era has been annex building in the north parking lot.

* Art Center is slipping in stature and quality enrollment, and there is no clear plan for creating a 21st century educational mission. While sustainability and new technologies are important considerations, art and design are broader than that, and our institution needs a serious, updated approach to education, research and practice. Without that, all the other plans become meaningless.

* The lack of an adequate scholarship fund is a serious problem for the future of the school and the quality of our education. There needs to be a specific plan for improving financial assistance for our students. While the endowment has improved in the last few years, it is still woefully underfunded relative other institutions (i.e. it is in the tens of millions right now and needs to be in the hundreds of millions).

* There is an urgent need for experienced, passionate educational leadership who will collaborate with the faculty, consult with the students, and work with staff to create a new educational vision for the school. This does not mean another reorganization, or meetings with faculty that produce no real results. It does mean creative and perhaps radical thinking, difficult budget decisions, and powerful new educational directions. Once we have a clear educational vision, then we can talk about what buildings to build, and it will be much easier to raise funds for whatever the college wants to do.

If the school does not address these and other issues, it will continue its decline, and perhaps veer into financial disaster or other scandal.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, I have been waiting for someone to open up this dialogue. You have done the school a great service in doing so. I fear for the school's future. I agree with "anonymous" who posted May 17, 2008 7:30 AM, that when you address the Board, you should keep to one simple issue: that they bring back Nate Young and not renew Richard's contract.

And anonymous who posted May 17 at 10:21 AM lays out the issues with Richard's mismanagement very clearly.

Follow the money. It has been slashed from education budgets and is being used for conferences, programs in Barcelona, and especially socked away for the Gheary building. Witness this administration's record of failure with its previous building programs:

• the "prototype classrooms" -- The hideous and non-functional "furniture" for this project still litters the campus (we spent so much with Hodgett's and Fung to build it, I guess we can't bring ourselves to throw it away), and what is left from that project is a windowless warren of badly-proportioned cave-like spaces unfit to hold a class in. What's more, classroom space has been eliminated in favor of offices -- mostly for the architectural programs department.

• the Sinclair Pavillion. This is a particular travesty, in that the structure was built in response to the LAST student protest about the high cost of tuition. Let this be a warning -- after a very effective protest in which the students marched in the halls, the administration pulled a very successful diversion maneuver and directed the anger of the students away from the primary issue and toward their stated need for some sort of student gathering place. The end result was a self-congratulatory series of charrettes -- ceremonies of corporate inclusion in which students were made to feel that their input was being heard -- and then the erection of that useless and barren structure, which is the opposite of a warm and inviting gathering place for students.

• the South Campus. The failures of this building as an environment for education have been noted in earlier posts.

Nathan, you, the students (perhaps with some help from the press) are the only ones who can effect a change here. Staff and faculty are afraid of losing their jobs. BUT I would advise getting some shrewd help, because, as noted earlier in this post and in others, the administration has been very effective in quashing or redirecting these sorts of efforts.

Anonymous said...

As an alum and someone who respects Nate Young as a person, his commitment to student education and maintaining the reputation of excellence Art Center is losing, I was saddened upon hearing of his resignation/firing. All points previously mentioned are excellent. One suggestion might be to question "Why is there so much building going on?" Obviously someone has an ego that needs to be stroked, to make what he thinks is his mark on Art Center's history books and the design world. It's a PR job. If that is his objective, what if it were turned around? What if negative PR, the ills of sacrificing student educational quality so he can make his mark, were made public to the design world? The internet is such a powerful tool for communication at a grassroots level. If students and alumni were to start threads on various design and business forums worldwide, it would start an exponential growth rate of discussion and publicity. I think if each thread that was started was hyperlinked and emailed to the members of the board of directors, they would start to see how passionate the students feel about paying so much and getting back so little. Bad PR is not good for business. This is an effective way for the students to empower themselves with something that will have an effect on board members.

The end goal is quality of education, period. It is the reason we were all once attracted by the Art Center name and the reputation is what continues to benefit us once we are out of school and working professionals. A reputation takes a long time to build but can be easily destroyed in a short time. Art Center needs someone who would bring the school back up to the level it needs to be so that past, present and future students can benefit from the Art Center legacy of excellence, and it is obviously not Koshalek.

Anonymous said...

The trustees need to hear from students, faculty, alums, and staff. Does anyone know their contact info?

Those of you who are Art Center students, remember -- you are among the world's elite. The most creative and talented anywhere. Think of this as an assignment -- how can you market the idea that Koshalek needs to go and that the college needs to re-discover its priorities. Use design-think. What's the right slogan? How do you reach the audience? Head-on or guerilla? Apply the same innovative thinking you use in your studio classes. Show that design can create real change at Art Center!

Anonymous said...

This is a great start!
It's sad to think that architecture is beating out education in the board room.
More of our alumni who are industry leaders need to be heard from now. Art Center is far too valuable an institution to let it be run into the ground by a "real estate development" minded president.

Anonymous said...

Art Center is going to tear down the Annex building to open more parking spaces for FACULTY and ADMINISTRATION.

And where are they going to hold all of those classes?
OH, yeah that toxic waste building on the corner of Glenarm and Fair Oaks.

Tear down Annex: big waste
Replace space with waste (treatment) plant

Geez: why don't we just tear down all these trees and clear out wildlife and biological resources around campus..
oh wait.. we are for the Gehry building.

RP said...


I applaud you for being brave enough to initiate the change that is so sorely needed.

I just have to point out that as designers, it is not only our duty to recognize and make known the problems that exist. We also have to offer solutions to the problems we observe.
Otherwise, we are just a bunch of complainers.

You have a lot of support behind you, and I hope someday we can look back and remember that Art Center was saved by a designer cowboy.

Luciano Bove said...

Ciao, I just digged your post and blogged it on my Design blog..this is my contribution..I agree with you.

Luciano alumni Transp. 89 Pasadena

Nathan said...

I would like to thank everyone for the support so far. It is by coming together as a group (students, alumni, and faculty alike) that we can show the administration that we have an equally valid investment, voice and vision for the future of Art Center.

After my post online, I was contacted by Erica Clark (Senior Vice President of International Initiatives) to discuss several points in detail. When I called Erica, it ended up being a conference call between Erica Clark, Iris Gelt (Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications) and myself. Richard Koshalek, whom I emailed a copy of my original post, was not available. It was an unsettling meeting between a single student and two Senior VPs. As a scholarship student, some of the things they said made me concerned for my continued participation in the upcoming MIT IDDS conference, awarded to me through Art Center.

I openly stated my willingness to correct any incorrectly stated facts, if only the correct ones would be given (and they have not). They did ask me to retract my original statement, which I cannot, as the principal of it is something I believe in. Iris did inform me at the end of the conversation, that “I will find nothing hidden here” and that Art Center is a very transparent place. I hope this is true, because the dialogue should continue.

In light of the recent events, concerning Nate Young’s resignation and Koshalek’s application for an extension of contract, I ask the Board of Trustees to inquire into these matters. In regards to talk of buildings versus education, I again, ask the Board of Trustees to inquire into these matters. Students, alumni and faculty are asking serious questions to the Administration, and as the stewards to our institution, I ask that the Board of Trustees to consider this, and ask why this is happening.

As for students, alumni and faculty, I urge you to continue to post your thoughts regarding all of this on the blog. We need to continue this dialogue, in the open, to collectively work towards an institution that prioritizes education and accountability. I hope that everyone out there remembers, as students, we are paying for this, we are the client.

Jacob said...

100% right on.

But we all will agree and say how evil ACCD is, but nothing will happen. As Shoji said, we will just sit back and watch it burn down with our cash fueling the fire.

Anonymous said...

Jacob -- don't let that happen! Form a core group of students and be creative -- that's what you guys do best!

Pass out flyers on campus, get the ball rolling! DESIGN the ball. The movement will build.

Be patient, and SUSTAIN the movement -- the trustees will dismiss anything that appears to be just a flare-up.

Most important, to build an effective movement you MUST STAY FOCUSED on the demand that the trustees do not renew Koshalek's contract. Don't try to bring up every gripe and issue, even though they are legitimate. If you do, the administration will trap you into endless one-sided dialogue while they play one faction against the other to divide, confuse, and conquer the effort.

jamie said...

Nathan don't let Erica Clarke and Iris Gelt intimidate you. They and the other Senior Staff know that if Koshalek's term is not extended, they too will be gone. There is much consternation on the bridge. They can't control what students and alumni say, although they will try.

Over 90% of ACCD's expenses are paid by tuition. Only about 40% of tuition is allocated to education. The other 60% is administration. For many years the philosophy was to admit more students in order to increase revenue. Admission standards were lowered. But then faculty and chairs realized that the quality was also lowered. So did the design firms that hire our grads. Education decided to reverse the trend and return to Art Center's tradition of only the best. Enrollment is down and there is less revenue. In response, budgets are being tightened, but only in Education. Nate Young was the only voice trying to bring this situation to the attention of the trustees. The other senior staff and Koshalek put their spin on it: Nate couldn't manage education and bring it in on budget and he was refusing to increase enrollment.

Now is the time to rally around the future mission of Art Center. There is a window of opportunity before the trustees vote on Koshalek's extention. They need to hear from all of is time for Koshalek to leave; we want Nate back; we want education to rule. We are a college. Students, faculty, and the educational process should once again be our focus.

Anonymous said...

The Board of Trustees is use to fancy presentations by the President concerning his visions and the great benefit to the college.
What about presentations from the recipient's of his visions?

Concerning the students (the whole reason for art center's existence to begin with):

Has anyone talked to students about the impact on their lives with tuition increase and the debt they are incurring? Has anyone talked to them about the quality of their existence with the tremendous increase in cost of living?

Concerning the employees:

Has anyone talked to the faculty and staff from top to bottom to see if they share the vision? What is the culture like to work at art center? Do people fear for their jobs? Why have so many highly qualified people "resigned"?

Concerning the Gehry Proposal:

Has anyone talked to the Linda Vista Homeowner's Assoc. to get their point of view? The impact on their lives and neighborhood? How they feel about Art Center? Did the Art Center Community ask for this? Were the people that are suppose to work and use it part of the planning process?

Concerning the South Campus:

has anyone talked to staff, faculty and students that work and study there? To the people that maintain it? Is it efficient? The cost of that project vs. the real benefit to the college?

Concerning the Sinclair Student Pavillion:

Did the students ask for it? Were they involved in the planning process(since it was supposedly for them)? Do they use it? What was its real cost vs. benefit to students?

Concerning what is apparently huge support for the former Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer's vision vs. the unpopular visions of the current president:

Why is that?

Just asking.........

Seems time for "serious answers" and not "serious play".

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that Erica Clark, her entire staff and all of their expenses are allocated to educational costs. 50% of Iris Gelt, her many staff and all over their expenses are also allocated there. They both report to Koshalek, so how can Nate or anyone in education be held responsible for their budget overages?

****Ǫ®ø£ï+å**** said...

This is a blog that has opened my eyes, i really never thought about that and only about a few weeks ago i started to get involved more with the school. I think this is a great cause and anything it can be do I am in, for now i will get more informed about all this events. We should be more carefull about where our money goes and the quality of the services we get.


Anonymous said...

it all boils down to priotiy. ethics. responsibilty. and obligation, just to make it clear.

-15000 dollars. and when it rains there are leaks and puddles of water and buckets to catch those leaks EVERYWHERE. the windows leak, the doors leak, the classes have leaks. i just wish i was a girl so i could wear my hiighest high heels and slip on that wet concrete throughout the halls on the bridge.
-Another campus??? hows about put that money into fixing what we got.. taking care of our instructors and less highschool kids DRAINING the ones we have with mediocracy and lack of discipline.
-GIVE more money for student aid instead of trying to further ROB students and future students by making another campus and housing for the rich mediocre and priveleged who have no sense of appreciation, give that money to the underpriveleged hungry and talented. these rich kids aint hungry. theyre BORED.
why would you be hungry if youve already got everything. youve seen the parking lot. im embarrassed to park there.... another campus???
-south campus..... (yawn).. is that why my tuition is 15000 dollars?? it would have been better off with park benches, tables and more trees. then id probably make better use of it. the most interesting thing about it is the view from it is terrible.
great design.
-15000 parents barely make 15000 dollars a year. and they keep raising it? competitive? minimum waige is how much?? competitive??? WITH WHO????????????
-i dont like paying 15000 dollars and not have parking.
-15000 dollars and the saturday high school kids are stealing things from the computer labs, faculty and the transportation studios..
someone told me THEIR HAT WAS STOLEN and some dvd's.. right next to it was a laptop.several. they didnt take the laptop..
we all know who steals hats and dvds. maybe because if they came home with a laptop the parents would ask questions..
-i dont like paying 15000 dollars and i dont get the classes i want because it seems theyve admitted every loud naive undisciplined highschool grad of 2007 to enter. i know where there money is coming from.. and i know accd is well aware. thanks for putting those people in my class. i WATCH some of em pull hw out of there ASS the day its due. and they deserve a critique??
-15000 dollars and your late to class because you overslept????? evrery week.. on the last day of class??? theyre so young, they cant even have an intellectual conversation with the teacher, or even have the capacity to have an intelligent mature response... is it because theyve never had a job or had any outside experience other then going to highschool and talking to highschool "kids"??? these people have priority??? accd is just taking theyre money and ruuunning!!
this is what theyre flooding the world with??
-accd should be called art center high school of design.
-i dont like paying 15000 dollars and all i got on the sunset social was a cheapass peanutbutter and jelly sandwich with dry ass pizza.... couldnt get di'giorno or domino's or pizzahut?? 15000 dollars?? times how may students??
-15000 and i cant even get a hello, how are you, "how can we imrove your edjucation here at accd" conversation from my chair.
-15000 and trasnportation des. has encroached on over into the illustration side.
-15000 and they want to get rid of rey bustos' anatomy???? and im supposed to learn how to draw?? and then they have figure drawing workshops... what good are they if i dont know anatomy...? and an entertainment department where u have to draw p e o p l e...?
and theyre just bringing back portraiture??
they wanna get rid of anatomy??
and they call that an illustration department? in los angeles???
whose the illustration chair????????
where is she from?????????????

-the sinclair pavilion... L O F L

i call it the shed. creaks pops and cracks just like one.

-15000 dollars and the vending machine is malfunctioned EVERYDAY.
-15000 dollars and there are probably ten benches for me to sit on, have lunch, sketch, do homework while im on campus. what a waste.

-a new building?? housing??? what?

it might sound like rant and complaint. but the underlying premise falls on PRIORITY, RESPONSIBILITY, ETHICS and OBLIGATION.

nathan, fragmented or scattered. who gives a #uck. we all know what ur talking about and its obvious enough for ray charles to see that there are priority issues being ignored and disregarded.

its a shame that the biggest one being ignored is US.

and when it gets to be this blatant and obvious. SOMEBODIES FUCKING UP

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your update post and continued strength in your position and support of this much needed discussion.

I was sorry to hear that officials of the school even considered asking you to retract your statement. It is one thing to engage in a dialog between the administration and the ACCD community about the future of the school. It is quite another to try to "manage" the situation by attempting to silence you. It's kind of shameful, especially with what sounded like a veiled threat to your supported conference attendance. You should immediately meet with the student council to make them aware of the situation and get some protection.

I would offer some advice. Do not meet or have a dialog again with members of the administration as an individual. You do not want this to be about you. It's clear you have tapped into a much larger sense of the ACCD community, and you need to leverage that. If there are further meeting requests, you should only do it on the condition that it is with other students and others who support your perspective. This way the discussion becomes focused on the future of the college rather than your individual opinion.

One last note. Koshalek has only a thin layer of support within the school, and this is to your, and the institution's, advantage. Just below those closest to him, there is serious discontent. This is why so many (and so many more I fear) have left. But with the right groundswell, the public veneer that Koshalek has maintained will collapse if he does not respond in a thoughtful, positive manner.

And since I assume the Board of Trustees and those who support Koshalek are reading this, I would say this to them. You can still turn this situation into a positive. Rather than trying to bury or fight it, open up a sincere dialog with the broad ACCD community so you understand why there is such widespread disagreement with Koshalek's policies. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, financial supporters, employers should all be allies, and increasingly they are not. Why?

Anonymous said...

I hear that some people who would like to participate in this dialog are afraid that their identities may be revealed. Especially staff and students.
If you select the "Anonymous" identity for your reply it is EXTREMELY remote that your identity could ever be discovered. Legal action would have to be taken against Google with a court order to reveal the IP address of your computer. Then your internet service provider would require a court order to reveal your identity. Obviously this is only going to happen if you do something seriously illegal and someone who feels harmed aggressively pursues, at great cost, to take on Google and a large ISP. At that point the accuser would face serious criticism for squelching free speech and open dialog anyway. The papers would be alerted and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the blogosphere, Digg, and most other electronic media would amplify the story a thousandfold - literally. Hey let’s HOPE it happens.

It’s important for your privacy as well as the credible discussion on this list that people do not engage in non-truths and other activities that (Google) considers a violation of their content policy ( So far this group has been very well behaved.

It’s telling that so many people associated with an educational institution are afraid to be open about their concerns and criticisms. As am I now that Nate Young is gone. Thank you Nathan C for providing us a place to open some discourse about the future of this fantastic school. I love Art Center

Anonymous said...


Many of the issues you address would be of interest to WASC, the accrediting commission for senior colleges and universities. Samuel Hoi is the chair of the WASC committee that has been reviewing Art Center. I don't have an email address, but Hoi can be reached through Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester.

Robert said...

In reponse to Jamie who said:
>> Over 90% of ACCD's expenses are paid by tuition. Only about 40% of tuition is allocated to education. The other 60% is administration.

Seriously? Where did this stat come from? I attended Art Center more than 20 years ago. There were about 1000 students and may be 30 in admin. What are those headcount numbers now? Anyone know what the historical proportions are between education and admin in terms of the expense (eg: if its 40% - 60% now, what was it 30, 20, 10, 5 years ago) Are those costs out of proportion to other small schools?
BTW: Art Center was a greuling experience for me and even back then it wasn't perfect but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have had a great career and my fellow students are now in serious leadership positions around the globe. This school has ALWAYS trained leaders. For you students and prospective students who are dropping serious tuition bucks - I can tell you it was well worth it and I hope to send my kids there.

Anonymous said...

Nathan's message was very well written and spot on. I started Art Center back in 2002 and I can assure you that there were a few of us who tried in vain to stop the styrofoam then. Efforts probably started before 2002. There is an institution wide attitude that if current protest is tolerated in the short run, it will graduate soon enough. Sure, there will be new protest, but ACCD is not collegiate in a way that fosters either strong communication between "classes", or legacy of legitimate student (COMMUNITY) concern. Many students will feel this attitude of indifference in classes and around campus, and many will hear it outloud - from styrofoam to the library not being open on a Sunday (higher education?). Art Center does have "two faces" as alluded to in Nathan's note. A design school that cant design an alternative to styrofoam is no design school, much less one that has real concern for sustainability. And any faculty that support the Koshalek/Gehry project is really drinking the Kool-Aid - at least the cups you are drinking from will last for thousands of years.

Anonymous said...

From what i can tell, there are students, faculty and staff of the College that are part of this conversation. Mostly unhappy with the current state of affairs. Interestingly, no one defending the other side of the argument. I would have to believe that the Board of Trustees are aware by now.

Another group to bring into the conversation would be the financial supporters of your College. Corporate donors, members of Art Center Community Partners, Art Center 100, Legacy Circle and other donors. There are names on your donor walls that have supported the college in the past and most likely in the future. They would be fairly easy to contact and may want to have a voice in how their contributions are spent.

Anonymous said...

Students and Alumni-- you have the ball and you have the power to carry it forward. Although the faculty is powerless and in fear for their jobs, they will stand behind you in support. BUT-- you must stick to the facts and the primary issue: EDUCATION first. Keep your argument focused. And be well-organized. Do not stray off on to tangents or you will lose the control of the debate and thus the battle. As Deep Throat said- "Follow the money!"
While we can all appreciate individual student frustrations, they muddle the discussion when it gets personal. The quality of education is what this is about, and who can best deliver it. You already know the answer to that. So spread the word and bring Nate back.

Anonymous said...

Nathan & supporters-To add to the suggestion about contacting WASC.Recently there was also a NASAD (another accrediting association) visit and evaluation. You can bring these issues to the attention of one of the reviewers Jon Esser - as they directly affect students and education.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"BUT-- you must stick to the facts and the primary issue: EDUCATION first. Keep your argument focused. And be well-organized. Do not stray off on to tangents or you will lose the control of the debate and thus the battle."

This is excellent advice -- STAY FOCUSED! Styrofoam, sustainability, tuition, faculty compensation, admissions standards -- they are all important to all of us, but we need to put them on hold for the moment and focus on the primary issue, the pending approval or rejection of Koshalek's contract extension by the board of trustees.

This decision will be made by the trustees in the next couple of weeks. The moment of oportunity is now. If Koshalek remains for another several years, there'll be no change and plenty of time for talk later. You'll be able to talk until you're blue in the face. NOW is the time for ACTION, not talk.

Let the community know how you feel about the Koshalek contract. Banners, flyers, emails, letters, whatever it takes.

Anonymous said...

It should be first and foremost, posted all over school and on t-shirts.
By keeping focused on this key foundational element, we can filter out all of the proposed gratuitousness that Mr.K would like to see implemented, and as an institution, keep our eye on the ball. (their's your ball! done.)
When you have such a strong, single position, you can always bring it around and ask, "how relevant is this (?) towards Art Center's educational excellence?".

Anonymous said...

Thank you for championing a 'green' campus. We must address the subject of sustainability and the appalling lack of 'real' support by the administration.

However, the discussion you have initiated indicates a much deeper concern, on the part of students and faculty, for the leadership of the school.

This is the topic which must be talked about...amongst students, faculty, alums....and board members.

I am convinced, that when we have a truly informed and enlightened president, supported by faculty and students, we will also be able to implement a comprehensive campus greening program.

Audrey! said...

This is a great dialog and one that is long overdue. First of all, I care a great deal about Art Center because I'm grateful for the role that it has played in my life. Without it, I would not be the designer that I am today and I know that.

That being said, and as a recent alumna, it is frustrating to watch members of the administration continually fail to prioritize the students and education above other "academic" initiatives. In ignoring what should be its prize possession (the students), Art Center has created class after class of alumni who will never give back to their school and it has created a destructive cycle: 1) Art Center ignores students and diminishes the educational experience through bureaucracy and personal agenda, 2) Students graduate after having accrued a massive amount of loans, 3) They neither can afford nor care to give monetary donations to Art Center, 4) Art Center's endowment continues to shrink under the current administration and lack of support from its alumni body, 5) Current student tuition is raised increasing the amount of loans that the current students will have to endure and scholarships continue to shrink.

It is time for action. Time to bring the voice of the students back. Can Art Center truly continue its legacy of creating "leaders in design" if at the first sound of dissent it (Erika, Iris, Richard) attempts to silence it?

Students: You are paying for a service. If that service does not meet your expectations, you have the right to raise your voice.

Alumni: We have invested a lot in our diplomas. For some, over $100,000 in student loans have been accrued (the same as an average Harvard med student). The value of your association with the school is only as good as its current reputation. Do not let your investment depreciate under to poor guidance. As the group least likely to suffer the immediate wrath of the administration, I encourage you to leave your comments with your name attached.

All: What are our next steps? Should we start a petition? Rather than have letters and emails trickle in one at a time to the trustees, we should make it a collective effort so that our individual bark becomes a collective roar. I am posting this comment and a link to this discussion on my blog (, will others do the same?

- Audrey Liu / Class of 2007

PS: I really like the idea of t-shirts with "Education First" printed on them :)

Ezekiel said...

I'm with you man. Just gimme a ring. LETS DO THIS BIG.


Anonymous said...

This is exactly what a "student government" is supposed to get fired up about. The last ACSG body has been WAY too quiet and passive. Now that Nathan has put it out there (you rock Nathan) let's hope the new council can step up and be the organized voice of the students, perhaps even engage with the Faculty Council on these issues. Whatever form of communication you take, t-shirts, petition, etc. the most urgent need is to get in front of the Trustees as they are the only ones who can enable change. If the ACSG is not informed of this, they should be. Time is ticking.

Anonymous said...

THIS IS AMAZING. You know what you have to do.
-- organize quickly and build momentum.
with group leaders with assigned tasks.
-- posters listing the main issues everywhere
--petitions with signatures from more than 50% of students, (a table outside the cafeteria, and at student parking entrance)
-- a contact with an Alum leader who will get an alum blog and petition going online. Alumni support is crucial.
-- T-shirts for every student,
-- an outside media contact,
-- a manifesto blog listing the main issues online that EVERYONE can access easily and can keep people updated day by day;
--notification of the Board by ACSG
-- And finally, (if necessary) planning for a massive demonstration at the time of the Board meeting in June with media coverage.
Remember- strength in numbers and clarity of purpose. Stay on the message. Use your design and communication skills. You can do this. GOOD LUCK.

Anonymous said...

I've had several discussions with my classmates concerning the cost of our tuition in the past. A friend and I were earnestly contemplating transferring to other schools with good art programs; many of which offer room and board, lower tuition rates, and better financial aid. However, I was persuaded otherwise because of the faculty. I realized that the quality of the undergrad faculty I get at Art Center is far superior to that of other schools. So I decided to stay because I, too, love this school even with all its flaws.

I attended Serious Play. It was pleasant enough with its free stuff, good meals, and somewhat interesting speakers, but then again, I had a free pass; I would have never attended such a useless conference otherwise. And I couldn't get over the hypocrisy presented in their use of plastic utensils.

The concerns you've addressed have crossed my mind before, and by the looks of it, the minds of many other students, but I've never thought to articulate them as you have. Thank you for opening up this dialog. I truly hope that this gets somewhere.

Anonymous said...

It is a good thing to see a discussion led with this much passion and concern for Art Center's leadership role in the world of design education.

And yes, Art Center faces many challenges these days, just as other leading schools do, California as a state, this entire nation and our world. The biggest challenge however is fear spreading like a disease, resulting in an instinctive search for "safe" solutions, leading to more mediocracy wherever you look.

If we are concerned with " the quality of education and who can deliver it" we should beware of turning Nate Young into a martyr.

Where is the evidence that he would have been the right person to lead Art Center education towards renewed quality and relevance? Where is the proof for his priority in education - where was his convincing plan for action, apart from colourful pie-chart presentations?

In the period of his tenure as the Chief Academic officer, he added new levels of complication and bureaucracy to the academic leadership of Art Center, going from a perfectly well functioning model of department chairs towards a confusing structure of added reporting layers in the name of "creating synergies". This led to new levels of academic micro-management and added bureaucracy, disenfranchising motivated and experienced department chairs into a mode of work-to-rule. Making things even more opaque, he also hired affiliates into newly created Vice President positions of questionable relevance,yet equipped with incredible travel budgets. So you're still wondering where the tuition money goes?

Nate Young's overall mind set is a far cry from the creative and courageous leadership that is needed to motivate a world class institution in the business of creative excellence to tackle the challenges that lay ahead of all of us.

When you are demanding true value for tuition money, don't fall for the comforts of mediocrity.

Anonymous said...

This is a viewpoint I have been waiting for! Until now, the discussion has only been critical about Richard and Erica, who knows for sure that the other side is any better?
As students we should focus on how we can best articulate our legitimate interests, instead of getting caught up in a power struggle between Art Center officials, about which true background we can only speculate!!!

Anonymous said...

I would like to remind the readers of these comments to consider that, under the cloak of anonymity, anyone can post a comment here. I wouldn't be surprised if the effort to fragment and destroy the initiative that is growing here might begin with a few disruptive messages from some in the top administration who are in fear of losing their place in the "let's dance with famous architects and fund it by ripping the heart out of Art Center" club.

Truly, Erica and Iris made a bad move with their heavy-handed attempt at getting Nathan in a headlock in that conference call and putting him in fear of his scholarship.

I would expect that from here on, their methods might be more subtle.

Anonymous said...

right on. those previous two messages (posted at 11:10 and 11:29) have a stink about them.

remember: this is about what richard is doing with the money. it's not even about nate.

where is the money going? why are education budgets being slashed and money is being spent instead on junkets to Barcelona, etc?

Anonymous said...

Nice response by the current administration above. This is a good model of media crafting for those of us that may go into professional communications.

Since Young was presumably hired and managed by Mr Koshalek how is it that his complicated plans and expenses didn't have Koshalek's oversight?

Yes, we're still wondering where the tuition money goes. The finger pointing and scapegoating is a redirection.

Anonymous said...

Wow, did someone really insinuate that Nate Young is mediocre or has mediocre standards? The dude graduated from Art Center with distinction, served as a senior exec in the design industry, brought sponsored projects to the school, and served on the board for years.

Seems to me he is the epitome of a top graduate from the best design school in the world.
Mediocre!? ...Someone's baiting us.

Anonymous said...

i think the baiting is happening on both sides of this dialogue.

if communication is to be effective it has to be based on facts, not innuendo and heresay. i'm not sure who to believe in all of this but i do know that art center is an amazing institution that i'm proud to be a part of.

what i'd like to see is open dialgoue and discussion of facts (how does our tuition actually match up against other colleges and art schools?), not all the trash-talking.

Anonymous said...

This is all developing into a really bad soap opera. It seems to me an administrative battle and personal vendetta is happening with some "anonymous" person feeding us what they're claiming is "inside info" about Nate, about Koshalek. It's all fishy to me.

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of that. This is getting to be a really interesting discussion, but I think we need to be careful about what we’re buying here. Where is all this information about trustees and contracts coming from? I just think it’s important to make sure this sort of info is coming from reliable sources. I mean, that’s definitely not anything I would know about. And info about the breakdown of how our tuition is being spent – where did we get these percentages? I do agree that it’s good to know where our money is going, but I’d rather find out from someone who knows for sure than just go along with some random number that came from who knows where.

Just something to keep in mind…

Nathan said...

I am glad there is a dialogue going on here. At this moment, I would like to highly encourage students and alumni to use their names, as they have nothing to fear from the administration. Hopefully the anonymous posts will be limited to Faculty, who at this point, have to consider their jobs when posting here, and are putting themselves on the line in revealing some of the information they know.

As a group, we should not make this about just two people. We can't really say that Nate Young was right for the job, or that Richard Koshalek is wrong. And let us try not to poke at each other personally in this dialogue.

As a group, we are discussing change from the status quo. We have to formulate questions we are interested in finding answers to. Questions that we are interested in asking the Board of Trustees to ask when they meet next month. I hope we can keep in mind that education and accountability are what we are looking for.

Audrey! said...

I agree. I think that we need to keep in mind that this discussion is about change. It is not about Nate vs. Richard, it is about the future of our school and prioritizing education so let's stay on topic.

Anonymous said...

(PS - I have always thought that this was the real issue regarding education costs for students – tuition + room and board + transportation + project costs = cost per term)
Identifying project cost for students per major is a large question at the College but that may be a question for another blog..

Anonymous said...

I think the question of whether Richard Koshalek and the current leadership is right for the job is a completely appropriate one for students to bring to the Board. Whether Nate Young was the right person for his position or not, his forced resignation, along with the recent resignation/firing of other senior leadership at Art Center, is a setback which has consequences in terms of productivity and expense—that kind of turnover is expensive and counter-productive to any institution.

I think that the question first and foremost is: what is the priority of the current leadership at the college? Is it providing a quality, world-class art and design education for students that justifies such a steep tuition? What examples can you give that demonstrate that education is not the first priority of senior leadership? What examples can Koshalek give that it is the priority—and what financial evidence can he present that show that significant resources are being put into direct education at Art Center?

Then, if students are not satisfied with the response from the administration. a vote of no confidence petition might be organized to present to the Board.

Anonymous said...

Of course Education must be first!
But to frame this conversation so simply is to move away from the truth… This blog sounds like the historic conversation recorded in the college archive that the school had before it moved to the campus to Pasadena, very unsure of the act of change, questioning the cost of change and fearful of new directions.

Just some up front facts;

Under David Brown and past administrations Art Center had next to $0 dollars in the bank to form a base from which to draw scholarships.

Scholarships were created one of two ways in the past;
A - Take money from one student that paid the full tuition and pass it to another as a “discount” to their tuition. This can only go so far and limits any institution in growth, faculty development and true scholarship support. Art Center was literally robbing Peter to pay Paul… more scholarships less library staff, more tools in the shop less scholarship and so on.

B - The second method Art Center used for student scholarship was in the form of corporate underwriting of “sponsored projects”. This money was divided up among students in the sponsored class to help cover the student’s costs of doing the work in that class. Some money from these projects was placed into the general fund (library, shop and additional faculty for these special classes) but almost none of these corporate dollars went into interest earning accounts that would generate funds that could be given as Scholarships over the long haul.

If you really want to cut loan costs ask for Federal educational loan access without the middle man fees. Stop paying banks for access to federal dollars.

If you really want to cut your project costs ask for your student government to request free equipment and supplies from industry for each major.

If you really want to cut room and board form common legacy groups to rent housing. (Yes I know but it works…)

Ask to freeze tuition at the current rate. Link any increase to cost of living or some outside index apart from education. Have students sign off on a raise in tuition.

Art Center is now fundraising for Scholarships as well as a building fund. Tuition is far too high across education and especially in advanced education but the building programs are not the reason. Richard Koshalek has said that all building programs would be funded by out side donations and not tuition dollars. We of course should hold him to this.

Sinclar Pavilion
The Design Research Center
950 South Raymond Building – (The first Leads Rated Building in Pasadena)
Student Housing
And Development of the power Plant for Graduate studies

All of these projects are to be built with out tuition dollars so this dichotomy is a false one.

The comments about the Sinclair pavilion are interesting because there were students not only writing the program that the Architects used to design the structure but they also worked with the Architects in their office on the project. I agree that it is sad how it has been used to date and feel that it is a reflection of a weak student body agenda. Cookouts, films, exhibits and student meetings have not taken place there as Students had planed at the building of the structure.


I must ask about the drum beat from some to ask for Richard’s contract with Art Center not to be extended. Is it from our residential community that would like to see no college here at all and is happy at the closure of a small elementary school along Linda Vista? While near by communities struggle to build schools at high costs our Pasadena community is sitting on empty educational space because the residents do not want buses of outsiders. One must ask in these types of forums because I know of no one here that does not think we have the infrastructure that is needed to run the programs Art Center offers. Faculty, Students and most staff know the space requirements needed by the college.

Pasadena residents shot down the Kids Space Educational Phase Two development plans while the community touts this town as a City of Education. Talk about drawing small circles that only look at very small self interests.

Clearly to have Richard Koshalek step away would only be a victory for the smallest of interests.

I understand the frustration with Nate’s withdraw from his leadership roll in education. I feel it too. I found Nate to be very fair, very intelligent and in full command of an agenda of change and development of new educational offerings that the college was putting forward, not at odds with growth. In fact we have lost many very good leaders from Art Center in this process at many levels, from director of shop facilities to the head of fund raising but this is a hard and long process.

This year the Graduate programs are to start the move into the 950 south Raymond Building, a vision of Nate’s educational expansion and a building made possible by Richard’s experience.

Anonymous said...

Can we get someone representing the Board to confirm that they are seeing this? The administration is way too good at distracting the Board from what is really going on.
We have to have direct contact with the Board. Can student government get an appointment with the Board to present these concerns?

Anonymous said...

It creeps me out that the administration is writing some of these entries without just disclosing they are writing from their paid jobs.

Anonymous said...

Just a note to "Creeps Me Out"... it is hard for faculty to write during work hours from their office... oh, yes... we have no offices on campus!

We work from our professional offices away from Art Center. Any idea that being "creeped out" by an important discussion is what is really scary.

Nice try.

Stan said...

To echo audrey's post, this is a great dialog and one that is long overdue. I am also grateful to Art Center for the role that it has played in my life. Futhermore, I have the PRIVILEGE to work here and to have met my best friends and students throughout the years.

We must keep this discussion focused on the core mission of the college; educating our students in the traditions that have made this a world class institution. For all of us that are alumni, we know firsthand what that means. The final outcome must wholly support that, or this college will exist only in name.

Audrey is correct that the students are our "prize possesions". i would add our faculty, which is why our students choose to come to Art Center. Our alumni, which demonstrates that Art Center creates many of the best design professionals in the world. And our supporters, which makes much of this possible.

Audrey also has several perceptions that must be addressed that aren't unique to her. They are, "Art Center has created class after class of alumni who will never give back to their school and it has created a destructive cycle: 1) Art Center ignores students and diminishes the educational experience through bureaucracy and personal agenda, 2) Students graduate after having accrued a massive amount of loans, 3) They neither can afford nor care to give monetary donations to Art Center, 4) Art Center's endowment continues to shrink under the current administration and lack of support from its alumni body, 5) Current student tuition is raised increasing the amount of loans that the current students will have to endure and scholarships continue to shrink".

I co-chair Legacy Circle along with my esteemed colleague, Ramone Munoz. We, along with our committee, have heard these sentiments over and over but have persevered to raise $150,000 specifically for student scholarships. Students shouldn't graduate with monumental debt and have positive experiences beyond their educational preparation. We, as alumni, understand your frustrations and needs.

Whatever the outcome, the current conditions and culture must change. The result will be a healthier climate to work and study and alumni willingly to engage with and support the college.

Stan Kong/class of '83
faculty of 25 years

Anonymous said...

I am having an attack of deja vu! Seen it all before, heard it before. So depressing.

What started out as something that seemed amazing and inspiring-- a genuine student movement, has turned into nothing like that.

Instead today it is once again faculty arguing, lots of confusion, and all this focus on personalities instead of the bottom line issues. Etc.

Where are all the students? Asleep. Most of them don't even know this blog exists. School was dead quiet today. Without an articulate focused mass of students this all goes nowhere. The window of opportunity is very small. This is how politics work.

Nathan you are a brave and principled young man.
But right now you have hardly any visibility and nothing to negotiate with. Thus no real power.

This "protest" will be buried like all the others. It will be chalked up as "another annoyance by the disgruntled", and swept up under the rug. All the important points made are being swallowed up in the noise of firepower.
I guess I was being idealistic yesterday. A sad day today.

Anonymous said...

Stay the course, Anonymous 8:16, movements have these have ebbs and flows. Anything worth doing is difficult -- hang in there!

So, it seems we've been joined here by the "other side." Good! They're mostly accustomed to spinning their slogans at dinners with potential donors they've tanked-up on a nice Cabernet, but this blog crowd might be a tougher audience, not so willing to politely nod their heads to the hype between bites of roast beef.

Anonymous at 4:41 said:
"Sinclar Pavilion-The Design Research Center-950 South Raymond Building - (The first Leads Rated Building in Pasadena)-Student Housing-And Development of the power Plant for Graduate studies-All of these projects are to be built with out tuition dollars so this dichotomy is a false one."

Without tuition dollars? Right, and I've got a bridge to sell you. The Sinclairs gave a few hundred thousand, but the building cost well over a million - no tuition dollars? South Raymand was mostly paid for with borrowed money - who pays back that money? Who pays for the million or so yearly debt service?

If you students ever meet with the trustees, and you SHOULD, just fine-tune your BS radar first. If you meet with the administration, and you SHOULDN'T bother, bring along the same Spin meter you use for George Bush's speeches. These "numbers meetings" are shell games. Watch out.

If you want to know where a chief executive's priorities lie, don't listen to what he says – watch what he does with this time. Here's a few of the kind of questions you should ask trustees:

- What is Richard Koshalek's travel and entertainment budget? How many trips last year?

- What is Erica Clarks travel and entertainmet budget? How many trips last year?

- Please provide a list of the hotels Richard and Erica have stayed at, and their cost per night.

- How were the losses on the Art Center conferences paid for?

- How much money has the college paid Frank Gehry? (someone above mentioned $385,068 – sorry, it's millions).

- What did the Barcelona junket cost?

What is Iris Gelt's travel and entertainment budget? (she's a PR director. Incredible things happen here in the studios every day that should be reported in newspapers and magazines. Why did she need to go to Barcelona to report on what amounted to an ordinary and by all accounts, disappointing, panel discussion? Where's the beef - or is Art Center all SPIN now?)

One thing is becoming clear. When the executive team of an institution so lacks the confidence of its constituency as has been expressed here, the writing is on the wall. Their time is over.

It is time for new leadership at Art Center.

Anonymous said...

I have known Nate Young for for a number of years and have nothing but extreme admiration and respect for this man of integrity. His only goal was to see that Art Center returned to the top, and once again provide its students with an education that is second to none. There is no question education was moving in the right direction under Nate’s leadership. The mess he inherited from Ron Jones and those that went on before was a train wreck.

Nate's only fault is seeing too much good in people. In his time overseeing education he should have done away with the likes of Mark Breitenberg, and Fred Fehlau instead of trying to work with them. I could mention others like a few dept. chairs that stood in his way and fought him at every turn... And now the punch line - Koshalek is chomping at the bit to replace Nate Young with Mark Breitenberg, a man with no design background at all, just a bunch of letters next his name on a piece of paper to justify his sorry existance. This is a move that will set Art Center on a track of being in the league of a community college but still packaged in a pretty black building and come with an even steeper price tag than the one now.

The bridge is a mess and its time to clean house. Richard Koshalek has one goal to build over priced dysfunctional buildings at any cost in the name of his great legacy. “Screw the Students” thats his motto. No one is better at playing the political game than this guy. He is the smoothest talker going, which is why the some members on the board of trustees can’t see through the BS he is selling. His axis of evil has got to go...

-Iris Gelt (Public Relations) The only thing she has been good at is promoting Richard and not the School.

-Jean Ford and Kim Roy (Human Resources) The only thing these two do is instill fear in the staff and faculty, Speak out of line or against Koshalek and they fire your ass. I’ve seen it numerous times.

-Rich Haluschak (Chief Financial Officer) This is the guy that cooks the books so nobody on the board of trustees (or anyone else) can tell how much money Koshalek has lost and miss spent.

-Erica Clark (Senior Vice President, International Initiatives) I think enough has been said about her already in the numerous responses on this blog.

This axis of evil has worked to build an environment of fear, frustration and outright deceit. (There are other individuals but these few are a good start.) The only way to fix education is to first get rid of those that stand in its way.

It is time to take back the school before its to late. If we do not step up now Art Center will not just continue to slide down hill but will eventually be driven into fiscal and moral bankruptcy. Can you imagine one day telling people I’m an Alum of the now defunct Art Center? Timing is everything! You have a very small window before the June Board meeting Nathan. If Koshalek gets voted in for 4 more years its over...

Anonymous said...

Would you like some facts? Wanna follow the money? Visit the City of Pasadena's website at
environmental/Art%20Center/ArtCenter_Home.asp to download a couple hundred pages of the project's Draft Environmental Impact Report along with about an equal number of pages from Art Center's initial submissions and public comments.

If you're interested in learning where money has gone, it's undoubtedly been spent here.

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice that the school's website was down for most of the weekend? Incredible...the world's foremost design school can't reliably operate a website - precisely at the time of year most prospective students would be accessing it to make their enrollment decisions. Unbelievable.

I guess it was SO IMPORTANT that Nate Young's name be nuked from its pages before the site re-appeared in public after his "resignation".

Mariana Amatullo said...

As someone who considers herself very fortunate to collaborate closely with both senior educational leadership and administration at the College as Director of Designmatters and VP of International Initiatives (reporting directly by the way to Senior VP Erica Clark; worked closely with Nate Young and President Koshalek), I wanted to go on record openly in this blog and state how saddened I am by reading the long list of inaccuracies and uninformed opinions expressed over the past several days by many anonymous (and non anonymous) bloggers in this stream.

While this is not the place, nor my role to take issue on any specific statements, I do want to offer a personal testimonial, and one small example that actually illustrates how integrated and closely administration and education often function at Art Center, and how hard we all work towards creating programs and educational offerings that are first and foremost about design excellence. Education and administration at Art Center are not two separate camps, and some of the successful results of the Designmatters college-wide program that I lead, and co-founded with Erica Clark, are a case in point. Without making a pr pitch for our collective accomplishments with education over the past 7 years with this program alone, I would like to underline that there have been, and are, so many exciting and tangible opportunities that directly benefit students and that have arisen from our joint efforts, all of which have been possible under this current administration. These include strategic outreach with the United Nations and a long list of partners internationally and locally (the often cited NGO status with the UN of the college is unique for any design institution); very significant fundraising that translate into countless funded projects; internships; Designmatters Fellowships (which are generous college funded scholarships to the top students to work in developing agencies around the world); new recruitment of students and, more recently, job hires for alumni at prestigious agencies, where Art Center was not a known entity I may add, until the enhanced commitment to internationalism that education and senior administration made at of the college in more recent years.

In closing, one more example about how we get our jobs done together, and strive with my colleagues across departments to make this institution the best it can be, day in, and day out, one student at a time. When the deadlines were over the apply to Amy Smith’s Development Summit at MIT, I personally appealed to Amy to grant Art Center as many spots for our students as possible. We worked with several faculty and education heads at Art Center and Caltech to identify the best candidates and circulate a last-minute notice. I am pleased that we succeeded and that we unanimously chose Nathan.

Nathan, you must be excited to embark on this special opportunity ahead of you and start focusing on some of the complex issues the Summit delves into with an amazing team of individuals chosen from around the world. I sincerely wish you all the best, and look forward to hearing about your experience there. I can only guess it will be a month of immersion into very complex and real issues. Issues that may stretch you, and push you to focus on how to imagine solutions for a better future, one in which the design skills and the talent you are honing at Art Center will be invaluable. I am keen on hearing the stories you will bring back, and learning about the debates you will participate in. Because the kinds of issues you will be exposed to are--in my book at least—the ones I believe we should all focus on as a creative community. These are real problems that truly matter.

Mariana Amatullo
VP, International Initiatives
Director, Designmatters
Art Center College of Design

Anonymous said...

1) Do we want to have educational leaders and curriculum that we are really proud of and for Art Center to be big on ethics?
2) or do we want some expensive monuments and a school run behind a veil of secrecy, not so veiled threats and spin?

For those who vote for number 1) they’d better get to work because they just lost their champion.

Mike Churchill said...

yaaaa buddy! thanks for stepping up to this, many students have felt this way for some time. we all support your efforts!!

Anonymous said...

That's a nice, feel-good essay, Mariana, but beside the point.

Why is the education budget being sacked to pay for unneeded and unwanted buildings?

Why did Nate resign?

Why did Scarlett resign?

Why did Emily Laskin, the fundraiser who replaced her, resign after 7 months?

When did Richard say he'd raise the $150 million to fund this building plan?

How much has been raised so far? Only a fraction. After so many years. They can't raise the money for the Gehry building and they are going to break the budget of this school in an effort to build it anyway.

And meanwhile, the education budget (the part that goes for paying for what goes on in classrooms with students, not the part that gets spent on conferences and panel discussions in Barcelona) is eviscerated.

Anonymous said...

It's no wonder Koshalek wants an extension on his contract. Who wouldn't want to keep a job that consists of traveling the world, schmoozing with celebrities, and eating fine cuisine. Most people would call that a vacation. In fairness, though, we all know the job is more demanding than that. It has all the pressures and challenges of being at the top, and we should not be simplistic or naive about his successes and contributions, even as we recognize that it is time for him to move on. Koshalek has done some good things, mostly having to do with marketing and institutional visibilty -- things that do advantage the college in pursuit of its educational mission. He has raised some money, although one imagines the cost of raising that money, if revealed, would somewhat tarnish the accomplishment.

Koshalek's problem is he really doesn't like the world of education. He has spurned the collegial network of art-school presidents that regularly meets and communicates on the issues and challenges of education. He arrogantly and naively thought that there was no difference between running an art museum and running a college. His modus operandi from the beginning of his tenure was to focus on architectural projects, international travel, conferences, and book publishing as devices for generating publicity and marketing for the college. He believes the exposure resulting from these enterprises will trickle down effectively into fundraising successes, and are thus justified expenditures of his time. He considers himself entrepreneurial in this respect.

He has, however, been consistently wrong in his assessment of the return on investment from these enterprises. Entrepreneurship is a admirable quality, but lackluster results speak for themselves. Koshalek's results always lack the luster of the, quite frankly, bombast that precedes them. While there is no question that international exposure, collaboration and partnerships, and media coverage of Art Center events is important -- it always has been -- the college's educational mission has in fact suffered terribly under a president who is exclusively devoted to being an impressario of marketing rather than an impassiond and engaged educational leader.

tinnie said...


i really appreciate that you take this move and speak for all of us. this is absolutely true.

i don't understand why do we need another library!? if we have enough resource from library in school now. what we need is more parking spots if the school keep accepting thousands of people. i also don't understand why school aren't using corn starch plate instead of styrofoam plate in cafeteria while all the people in conference are using fancy glass and ceramic plate. why our tuition is so ridiculously expensive but our benefits aren't going up but going down? i don't understand why school didn't use our tuition $ to improve our student's education qualities, expand the computer lab, build more studio for us? i don't understand why we spent so much $ to build the south campus, and it's been so long after the opening of the building already, and it's still undevelop or even most of the time, no one use it? why are we only using the huge wind tunnel for design conference? why can't it provide more studio space for student?

what is the deal with Gehry and Koshalek? why our tuition is raising so rapidly and so much? it's almost reaching $15000 now! and it DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE! anyone saw the stack of $100 bills in front of the gallery? with the economy being in such a bad condition now, our family's salary is not raising, but our tuitions are non-stop raising? NON-SENSE!

i absolutely support you nathan!


Anonymous said...

I don't think that anyone here is accusing the administration as a whole. Of course everyone knows that there are people who work extremely hard to create programs and opportunities for students. Yes, those are the people that try and balance things out.
Opportunities like DesignMatters, MobileHealthClinic, Insead, Tama, and fellowships alike are a big reason why I am lucky to be a student at Art Center.

However, the issues that Nathan presents here ARE relative and DO truly matter.

He is a representative of the whole student body at our school. Obviously, this affects not only our future as students and professionals (and prospective students) but this affects our integrity as people. He is a truly talented student and a courageous human being to be standing up for his rights. THIS is what truly matters.

This is the time to start a revolution.
We need answers.

Anonymous said...

To the outside world, much of what Richard Koshalek has said since he became president in 1999 would seem to make a lot of sense: add weight to the intellectual content of Art Center; increase our international presence and create inspiring new campuses to foster creativity. That said, Art Center already had great international presence but its biggest legacy was in its unassailable reputation for professional polish, pride of design craftsmanship and graduates who were more than ready for their first professional position. No other school in the world could touch us on that. While adding intellectual content and innovation to this legacy is critical for Art Center’s future, the baby cannot be thrown out with the bathwater. It is not one philosophy or the other. It is both. Every design school in the world talks about intellectual content and innovation and so we have to nail these things too – preferably better than our increasingly stiff competition. Where we have the advantage is that we have this unique legacy. So when we do achieve intellectual and innovation muscles we should still deliver a knock-out punch to the competition because we will also still excel at the things that no other schools do like Art Center. Unfortunately, the impression grows everyday that our institutional leadership does not believe that our legacy is worth preserving.

Building world-class educational programs requires adequate budgets. True, Art Center has never been a cash rich school. This is why it is important that the education departments get priority when there is little money to spend. What appears to have been happening is that initiatives for international activities, new buildings designed by expensive architects and a series of conferences have taken priority over building robust undergraduate and graduate programs and scholarships to attract students who deserve to come to Art Center because of their talent – not because they have the financial means.

These issues have created enormous strain within the school. They have created immense frustration amongst many talented, hard working and passionate educational leaders in the school for a number of years now. Those same people have not always agreed on everything but intellectual rigor is built around different opinions. However when a man who absolutely believes in the tremendous legacy that he benefited from as a student and equally believes in building up Art Center’s intellectual and innovation credentials feels forced to resign, one has to ask what the hell is going on? At least this unfathomable event has triggered a release of some of the pent up stress and frustration, via this website and no doubt in other circles as well.

Everyone should now be very concerned about what will take place in the vacuum created by the CAO leaving. Will due diligence be taken in creating an equitable solution for all the education departments? Will the same presidential priorities continue unabated? Will our campus become a controversial architectural folly inhabited by students and faculty no different from all our competitors, or worse, will the school just go bankrupt?

Anonymous said...

The world is a complicated place; Art Center is a microcosm of it.
Both the key players here are guilty of surrounding themselves with cronies of mediocre talent, well that what people in power do to protect them. See current US political system. Richard has high-level contacts from MOCA, which have benefited Art Center. Nate has corporate contacts, which have benefited Art Center. Both have used school monies for pet people and projects of questionable merit and value to the students. Some expenses could be considered lavish such as travel in style, while monies are scarce for the needs of the clients (the students). It's a good thing we are kept so busy as not to complain too much, yet.
Perhaps neither Nate nor Richard is a perfect fit for Art Center. One would have to look at the history of the school with an eye to the future to delineate a candidate of true merit. Divisions run deep through Art Center on many levels to it's own downfall.
People in areas of power have little to no training or skills in management or psychology. A degree only from Art Center shows a hard worker and skilled technician artist, not an educated thinker, manager leader. Art Center has many little kingdoms ruled little lords of each department, all-seeking as much control as possible.
This however is endemic of most academic institutions. At art schools for example you will pay nearly the same for much less.
That is not to say that there are not alternatives, there are for those that do their research. Has Art Center been mismanaged? Yes, for many years. Is there corruption? Yes. It has the General Motors mentality of management, and we see how well that works. Will a large private University absorb Art Center one day soon? Better then going the way of oblivion, let us pray.

Anonymous said...

In response to Marianna, I must say that I think this blog is a wonderful thing. It doesn't sadden me one bit. Nathan has found a way to give voice to students, faculty, staff and administration alike. The use of anonymous is essential because many faculty and staff fear for their jobs. Obviously students feel intimidated as well. Faculty are familiar with anonymous critique--we receive our reviews every semester. We learn to focus on what information can help us become better at what we do. Surely Senior administration can and should do the same.

Regarding the issue of an Administration/Education divide, I must disagree with Marianna. In a larger sense, there has always been a deep divide between educators and administration at Art Center. Anyone who wants some history on this should read the last two WASC reports, both of which were critical of Art Center for this deep divide, which is integrally part of Art Center's structure and which has never been addressed or amended by Senior Administration in any meaningful way.

But enough of that.

To echo other "Anonymous" writers, keep your focus folks! Its not about personalities, its not (just) about parking. It is about your education, and keeping ALL of us accountable.

RE those t-shirts--set up on campus, iron them on there (or write them on with marker) Let people bring in their own shirts--I want to see a sea of students walking around emblazoned with EDUCATION FIRST. YOUR education, the one you pay tuition for. The one here on the hill.

Lee Bolton said...

I was pointed towards this blog by a friend of mine. I love Art Center, the faculty, the students and the administration dearly. I sadly have had many of these same feelings in the short year that I have been here that many of the individuals here have expressed. I think rationally to me what this boils down to are three concerns: Accountability, transparency and education.

First and foremost, budgets to education continue to be slashed while costs go up, and to me as a student, there is no excuse for this. I work hard to bring my 'A game' to this, the best school in the world everyday, but it disappoints me when I see that a class I wish to take is not offered anymore, or the class I am in has inadequate and incomplete services for our usage. Faculty I'd like to learn from, are no longer at Art Center, on a 'sabbatical', or splitting time at a local junior college to make ends meet. -I can take any side on this part of the debate as to where the failure is in this, but really, how does Art Center expect to retain its top notch faculty when they don't even offer them tenure?

There is a developing sense of distrust because there is either little transparency on the budgets, or it is not easily accessable to be understood. How does Art Center remain competitive by continuing to jack up student's tuition on a consistent basis? We all wonder where the money is going. I think this is fair to assume and I think many of the students worry about leaving this wonderful school up to $200,000 in debt.

I do not think it is fair to assail the administration or label them completely with all the blame. I have a hard time believing that they have been aware of the simmering dissatisfaction in the faculty and student body displayed here. I think that is not fair at all.

I do however, believe it IS the administration's responsibility to help us and provide us with the best education possible. I hold them accountable for the skyrocketing costs of going to Art Center. I am asking our administration to take notice and responsibility to try and fix things for us now. We need their (your) help please.

I want administration to seriously look at why education budgets are being slashed and costs are increasing. (Even small things are going up. The cafeteria and vending machines have even seen rises in prices. Has our administration tried negotiating with vendors, or trying another one, or are they only intent on setting up tables for 24 Hour Fitness to squeeze more juice out of dried oranges?)

'Remaining competitive'? What does this mean? Why has there been no ground breaking on the new library and what are the road humps we must overcome to get the dormitories constructed? (I am aware that these projects will probably not be constructed by the time I graduate, -but I do not care about that.) I want future Art Center alumni to benefit from my financial strain. What about the alumni before us who were told previously that our generation of Art Center would benefit from their increased tuition? Did tuition drop off after these projects were completed or were they justified into a budget somewhere else.

From the viewpoint of a frustrated student, why should the school extend administrative contracts when so many issues now lie before us to fix?

I constantly hear that the only power here is wielded by the students. Fine, then I ask that administration and faculty come to the bargaining table with us to negotiate and fix what lies before us now. An open and sincere dialogue needs to be created between not only the students and administration, but the faculty as well in an equal triumvirate.

My name is Lee Bolton and I don't care who knows my name on this blog. I stand for every man, every woman, faculty, student and administrator and I am afraid of no one.

Brian Boyl said...

Because this is such an important topic, I will shun the anonymous and go on the record.

We all agree that Art Center is an educational institution first and foremost. But the energy on this blog reveals that the community needs a clear explanation as to how expensive initiatives such as the Gehry building, the Barcelona conference, Radical Craft, Serious Play, and the extensive travel activity at the school translate into better education for our students.

It must also be explained why these initiatives exist, while at the same time we have a weak scholarship program, education budgets have been frozen, class sizes of less than eight are being routinely challenged, and computer rooms are disappearing. Clearly, these do not indicate a strengthening of education at the school. Quite the opposite: it signals a deterioration. And it is this deterioration that students see day in and day out.

Our trans-disciplinary classes and international opportunities are wonderful - and for the most part did not exist before the current administration. But students experience these only once or twice while they attend the school (if they're lucky) . These initiatives make great press, but it's the non-sexy, day to day, meat and potatoes infrastructure stuff that makes talented students and great Alums.

It is not clear to me, nor do I believe that it is clear to the large part of our community how the high-profile initiatives translate into a better day to day educational experience for our students.

This needs to be explained to the community, and explained in a way that demonstrates leadership: By none other than the president himself.

And I would hope that the president, and those associated with the high-profile initiatives take heart that there is a real infrastructure problem that shoots right at the heart of the core mission of the school, education, and weakens it's most valuable asset: It's reputation.

Anonymous said...

I graduated from ACCD in 1987, probably before a lot of you were born. Nate Young was in a lot of my classes. We didn't have blogs like this back then, but, if we did, they would have said a lot of the same things. I doubt any of this is new to Nate. He is a first class designer and I think it was awfully big of him to try and devote his talents to your education. Guess he thought he could change things.

I always thought the building's architecture said a lot about the school's culture. The administration's offices on the bridge had outside windows so they could enjoy the view, see and be seen. Students were hidden away in classrooms that were pretty much lacking in windows or natural light. The excuse I heard was that the beauty of the outdoors would some how distract them from their work. We were considered a nuisance, not customers, much less future contributors or corporate bigwigs, and were reminded of our "low class" status at every opportunity. We couldn't even get them to spend money on basic shop materials! But hey, there was a lot of talent there, and I bet you guys have it too.

The heart of my major (transportation) was 5th, 6th, and 7th term workshop classes, ALL of which had the same mediocre instructor. I learned much more from the other students, including Nate Young, and still do today.

One faculty guy who really spoke out and worked his HEART out for the students was Strother MacMinn, who was then in his 70s. They couldn't fire him because he was too popular with important people whom he had helped and instructed as students. The school exploits his memory now, because it is good PR, but treated him awfully back then.

I haven't given the school a nickel since my last tuition payment, and I doubt if any of you will either. Best advice I can give you is keep in touch with your friends. They're the best thing you will take away from your ACCD experience.

Anonymous said...

I noticed the comment about the possible appointment of Mark Breitenberg to Nate's position, along with the observation that Mark had never accomplished anything of note. This is not entirely true. As one of Mark's first official acts as new chairman of LAS, he forced the resignation of Peter Lissaman. Who is Peter and why is this significant? Peter was a key member of the small group at AeroVironment which designed and built the Gossamer Condor, the first ever vehicle to realize the ancient dream of human powered flight, an ambition of humanity since - Leonardo? The ancient Greeks? The cave man? Mark Breitenberg and Art Center, under Koshalek’s leadership, has one lasting claim to fame, which was to fire one of the men who helped realize that dream.

Pamela Blackwell said...

Dear Art Center Community –

What started as a reasonable discussion of legitimate concerns is becoming a rather nasty fight in the sandbox. I do hope that the film students are following all of this because there’s plenty here for them to draw upon for a parody of the dysfunctional family – distrust of authority, sibling rivalry, teenage rebellion, secrecy, etc. And, all those opposing views stated with such righteous conviction. It’s all there. Hasn’t the time come for us to meet as a group openly and honestly to sort out this mess?

Pamela Blackwell

Anonymous said...

isn't there a board meeting today? what time and where?

Anonymous said...

Within any family or organization, there are always gripes and personality conflicts. Let's not let this forum degrade into a family feud.

Stay focused, folks. This is a place to vent, yes -- but it is also a call to action. We need to move to the action phase. After nine years of mismanagement by slogan, hype, and marketing, the lack of confidence in Koshalek is clear. His sleight-of-hand worked longer than it should have, but now everyone sees through the tricks.

The changes needed at Art Center cannot be achieved by leadership in which there is so little confidence. Nate Young, for all his strengths and weaknesses, was a ray of hope. Now that hope is gone.

For us to move forward and seize the future while still honoring Art Center's unique spirit and past, Koshalek needs to go. He has become a symbol of how publicity cannot sustain change, without substance.

Anonymous said...

Per the post at May 18, 2008 1:27 PM about the security of anonymous posts:

Any activity done within the school's network and particularly on school machines within the school's network could possibly leave breadcrumbs back to a computer user IF the school puts systems in place to track this. If the school's IT department chose to track outgoing traffic, IP addresses, block URLs, packet sniff, etc there could be some small compromise of privacy. It’s fairly common for big companies to do this although it would be unusual for an education institution. I am NOT accusing this of occurring and would be very surprised if anything like this exists at Art Center, just pointing out that its feasible in order to let people better evaluate their personal risks in this dialog.

I believe there is little to no risk for students using their machines on the school network and some risk for faculty and admin in the current climate. If the admin/IT group can guarantee they aren't going to do this then everyone should be OK provided your don’t do anything illegal or libelous. These tracking systems won’t work on individual computers on outside networks.

This is a valuable dialog and a good example of the power of these forms of media for social change. It highlights the challenges and opportunities that institutions and companies face in a world where crowds have networked power. Honesty and integrity matter as does a certain level of civility while passionately seeking truth and change. This in itself is a valuable education for current students although the current condition has sad elements. It will be nice when we can use our real identities.

Anonymous said...

To Richard Koshalek,
President of Art Center:

At what point are you going to take this seriously? Show us your plan. Make yourself available. Come into our classrooms and talk to us. Let us tell you what we think....and you can tell us what you think.

Have you ever considered that these concerns are coming to the surface in this way because you have never bothered to communicate directly with us?

Step out of your office and come into the classroom. Talk. Listen.

Sherif M. said...

I'm going to go on record here as a fellow student and 'aware' individual, to state that everything I've read from the original post to the 'impassioned' replies do little than serve more than voicing the typical and often disorganized and misinformed complaints ever present at Art Center.

Quite frankly, how can any of you begin to presume to understand the slightest element of the inner workings of what ArtCenter is. We, as students, get brief glimpses, but never the whole picture.

I ASSURE YOU that the combined group of administrators and alumni are not working concert to build Art Center as the evil and wasteful empire many of you would have us believe.

Those who know me and or recognize my name know I am a student at Art Center, I feel strongly that the school should do all in it's power to maintain the world renowned reputation and legacy.

Those of you who know me also know that I do have my criticisms of the school but when I do, rather than blast every random ear with my misinformed opinion, I simply walk in to an administrators office, ask for a meeting, and casually engage them in a manner which is not confrontational and shares an air of mutual respect and understanding. When you approach people like this, you will often get the answers you are seeking and the respect you deserve.

I too feel strongly that sustainability is and has to be on our collective agendas and a school such as Art Center can't afford to not engage it as well. Yet I have faith that this is on the agenda for the school – but it is one of many issues that the school has to deal with simultaneously. Before you cast your aspersions and throw opinions, find out the details – its easy to say that we've been spending money here and not here and they could simply move cash from this area to that, when you don't know anything about how the books are truly managed.

Few of you, I'm sure, know that part of the Gehry project is to build a larger library which is requisite for the school to seek more federal financial support.

So please – you collective people, think, speak, converse and engage before you get in arms over something, especially against the school we all seem to love.


Khrystyne said...

Fuck yeah nathan... i'm right there with you. It is such a shame that when we were in student government, and asked for this information, everything just got shoved aside. Everyone danced around the subject and no one gave us a straight answer. If our tuition is going to "improving facilities", then why are we not allowed to build 3D models in trans because of "lack of space"?

Khrystyne said...

Fuck yeah nathan... i'm right there with you. It is such a shame that when we were in student government, and asked for this information, everything just got shoved aside. Everyone danced around the subject and no one gave us a straight answer. If our tuition is going to "improving facilities", then why are we not allowed to build 3D models in trans because of "lack of space"?

Khrystyne said...

Fuck yeah nathan... i'm right there with you. It is such a shame that when we were in student government, and asked for this information, everything just got shoved aside. Everyone danced around the subject and no one gave us a straight answer. If our tuition is going to "improving facilities", then why are we not allowed to build 3D models in trans because of "lack of space"?

Anonymous said...

here is an old Wall Street Journal write up on Koshalek and his spending abilities...
Somebody needs to sit him down and explain that Art Center is not a museum, it is an educational institution... sigh. Read away...

By By Monica Langley, The Wall Street Journal, 2318 words
May 26, 1999
Document Text
Copyright Dow Jones & Company Inc May 26, 1999

LOS ANGELES -- In celebrity-filled Spago restaurant, the focus this night
isn't on Tony Curtis, Tina Turner or Greg Kinnear, though all are here.

The table attracting the most attention -- even drawing famed chef Wolfgang
Puck from the kitchen to autograph his cookbooks -- is the big one in the
middle, featuring hot architect Frank Gehry, lawyer-to-the-stars Jake Bloom
and Los Angeles real-estate mogul Robert Maguire.

Richard Koshalek, the gracious, relentlessly energetic man who will pick up
the group's $1,000 tab, seems to fit right in. But Mr. Koshalek has a
secret: He can't afford to host a table at Spago. He only appears to be one
of the rich and famous, thanks to his myriad clever means of mirroring their

Mr. Koshalek's ways aren't an elaborate scam, but merely the workaday
requirements of a job such as his: running a big not-for-profit that must
perpetually woo donations from the wealthiest people in the world.

Call it "living the life," a growing practice at many of the nation's
cultural institutions where top staff must appear affluent enough to meet
their benefactors on their terms and on their turf. "The kind of money we
have to raise now puts pressure on me to be around wealthy people every
single day," says the 57-year-old Mr. Koshalek, director and chief executive
officer of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. "You have to be
one of them."

Donors agree. For 15 years, Mr. Koshalek courted David Geffen, sending him
notes and art catalogs and generally making a pest of himself as he wooed
the entertainment mogul from tony Morton's restaurant to the best Hollywood
parties. "Of course it's important for Richard to move through these
circles," says Mr. Geffen, who made a $5 million donation in 1996. "He gets
an A-plus at that."

Mr. Koshalek's lifestyle requirements are shared by many executive directors
elsewhere in the country. Leaders of cultural institutions, facing growing
costs and declining government support, increasingly rely on aggressive
private fund raising. Perceiving that nothing attracts money like money --
or the illusion of money -- they are investing more to cover executives'
housing, clothing and entertainment expenses.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History and the
Whitney Museum in New York all provide their directors with pricey
apartments. In Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts gives its director at least
$25,000 a year for entertaining and much of the cost of a BMW. The director,
Peter Marzio, admits to nearly fainting when, before reimbursement, "my
American Express looks like the national debt."

While the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art pays its director a healthy
$225,000 annually and gives him access to tens of thousands of dollars more
for entertainment and fund-raising expenses, it still takes much more than
that for Mr. Koshalek to keep pace with the multimillionaires he courts.
"I'm not poor, and feel fortunate for what I have, but I can't match the
resources of the CEOs and wealthy collectors I'm around," he says.

That's where ingenuity comes in. The Spago evening, for instance, cost him
and the museum nothing because of a deal he cut with Mr. Puck: free meals in
return for naming the chef and his wife as museum benefactors. The Spago
arrangement turns out to be just one in a string of favors the museum
director routinely accepts, from travel to exclusive fund-raising parties
thrown by museum trustees.

"The amount of support from museum trustees for my lifestyle in this role
would startle people," says Mr. Koshalek, who estimates that trustees and
donors shell out about $400,000 each year to host museum dinners and events.
But trustees say living the high life is simply part of Mr. Koshalek's
duties: "I would feel Richard isn't doing his job if I didn't see him in
places like this," says museum trustee Dean Valentine, president of Viacom
Inc.'s UPN television network, seated at a nearby table at Spago.

This lifestyle, in turn, is credited with helping the museum raise $65
million for its endowment and collection, as well as $80 million for
operating expenses, since its inception. After helping the museum build one
of the top post-World War II art collections, Mr. Koshalek is stepping down
as director on June 30 and is expected to become president of Arts Center
College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., where he plans to use the same
strategies for courting deep-pocketed donors.

When Mr. Koshalek arrived in 1980 to work on building a contemporary-art
museum in downtown Los Angeles, he was an unknown from a relatively small
museum in upstate New York. During his first couple of years of intense fund
raising and networking, "Richard was treated like a janitor" by powerful
museum backers, recalls Robert Irwin, an artist involved in the founding.

But soon he discovered the need to act wealthier than he was, and he began
to be seen regularly at the city's top restaurants and parties, as he
oversaw the $23 million museum construction. "All the dinners and parties
were geared to generate momentum for the institution," Mr. Koshalek says,
though he acknowledges he enjoyed himself, too.

In the process, he developed an arsenal of strategies for living the life
without spending millions. Take clothing. Knowing they can't quite compete
with the expensive designer clothes and lush fabrics worn by the museum's
wealthy supporters, the Koshaleks focus on key wardrobe staples they can
accessorize to dress up or down.

"We have to be very good at looking good on very little," explains Mr.
Koshalek's wife, Betty. "I keep up with what's fashionable but go to the
classics." She says she makes frequent use of a favorite dark-blue Armani
pantsuit, which she varies by wearing different scarves and jewelry. For
summer, she has an all-white suit that can be dressy or casual.

Mr. Koshalek wears only gray BrooksEase suits made by Brooks Brothers, which
cost $598. "To make them last longer, I buy three pairs of pants for each
suit jacket," he says. "I buy the same suit over and over, and it's
wrinkle-resistant so I don't clean it as much."

His "uniform" hasn't gone unnoticed. "Richard always wears the same gray
suit," museum Chairwoman Audrey Irmas says. "Even on Saturday, when most men
wear chinos, I've never seen him in anything other than a gray suit or gray

The Koshaleks live in a modest three-bedroom ranch house ("I have one of the
smallest houses in the nicest part of Pasadena," Mr. Koshalek says), and
because they wanted to preserve a bit of privacy, they decided early on not
to entertain at home. "Eating out all the time saves on groceries," Mr.
Koshalek jokes.

Instead, the couple holds court at restaurants on the $20,000 entertainment
budget provided by the museum. But that amount doesn't last long at pricey
eateries, so Mr. Koshalek came up with the idea of persuading a few of his
donors' favorite restaurants, including Spago, Michael's and Boxer, to trade
meals for museum recognition and perks.

When the museum has an opening, the director asks trustees to host a party
and dinner with the artist. "I entertain people for Richard," says Mrs.
Irmas, who frequently holds such events for Mr. Koshalek at her
11,000-square-foot Holmby Hills home, which is decorated with her own
extensive contemporary-art collection and is located just across the street
from TV producer Aaron Spelling's mansion. For the Claes Oldenburg show a
few years ago, Mrs. Irmas gave a sit-down dinner for 200 guests in her
gardens, complete with strings ensemble. "Richard was the host and MC," Mrs.
Irmas says. "He mingled, he thanked supporters, he made his jokes. It
enabled him to further his relationship with our major donors."

Likewise, billionaire financial-services executive Eli Broad, the museum's
founding chairman, last year held a large catered dinner for the opening of
Richard Serra's sculpture exhibition, previewing a Serra he had
commissioned. He also hosted a dinner for photographer Cindy Sherman, whose
work he collects. Both events were requested by Mr. Koshalek, at a cost of
up to $25,000 each, "with parking attendants, catering, rentals and waiting
staff," Mr. Broad says.

Because Mr. Koshalek can't comfortably afford dues for private clubs, he
asks trustees to let him use their privileges. He often hosts lunches at the
California Club through the membership of longtime museum trustee Frederick
Nicholas. "I never say no," says Mr. Nicholas, an attorney and real-estate
developer, who estimates the lunches cost him about $10,000 a year.

Some donors offer the meals and parties gratis, while others submit catering
and other bills for the museum to pay, in return giving the museum a
donation equal to that amount so they can claim the tax deduction.

Office decoration is another area in which Mr. Koshalek has been creative
for appearance's sake. He gets noted architects to redesign his office every
year free of charge. Last year, Los Angeles architect Richard Keating
painted his office a metallic-pewter color with a rough sandpaperlike
texture; the design was so popular that the office was used on movie and
commercial sets.

Yet Mr. Koshalek is rarely in his office, because "I manage by movement," he
says. "When you're asking people for money, you have to go to them -- make
it easy for them." When in Los Angeles, he zips around in a new Jeep
Cherokee provided by the museum.

On a recent day, he drives up the coast to Montecito to have lunch at the
new home of "Ghostbusters" director Ivan Reitman and his wife Genevieve, a
museum trustee. He brings them a catalog of works as a thank-you gift for
past support. Mr. Koshalek frequently bears gifts, which are covered by a
special $20,000-a-year budget. (Stylist Vidal Sassoon was given a Robert
Gober catalog; actor Steve Martin received a book of Mr. Serra's sculpture;
agent/manager Michael Ovitz got a catalog on 20th-century architecture.)

"It's not like I can give them a painting," Mr. Koshalek says. "But I try to
give potential donors a high-quality art book or catalog from the museum to
show them I'm thinking about what they would like." On this visit, Mr.
Koshalek is asking the Reitmans to fund an exhibition on minimalism, to the
tune of $100,000. They have yet to commit.

Mr. Koshalek's efforts are backed up by a development staff of 14, who
advise him before each meeting on a prospective donor's resources and the
amount of money he should seek. He also gets advice from his curators on
which artists are collected by a prospect, or which coming exhibition would
fit an individual or corporation's interests.

His work even extends to his time off: When Mr. Koshalek vacations, he
borrows the homes of prosperous museum supporters. He has stayed at the
Tetons ranch of real-estate broker John C. Cushman III, the Sundance home of
producer Daniel Melnick in Park City, Utah, and the Hawaiian mountain
cottage of former newspaper magnate Thurston Twigg-Smith. "He later hit me
up for a million-dollar donation," Mr. Twigg-Smith says.

"In meeting rich donors, I can talk about what they like," Mr. Koshalek
says. "I travel where they travel, read what they read." Whenever Mr.
Koshalek flies, he takes along more than a dozen business and entertainment
trade magazines so he will know how his donors' companies are doing.

Relationships with contemporary artists make up the "strongest asset I
have," Mr. Koshalek says. "I bring access to the art world." When important
prospects show an interest in architecture, Mr. Koshalek volunteers to take
them on a tour of the studio of his friend Mr. Gehry, who designed the
museum's second facility, the Geffen Contemporary. "Richard uses Frank
Gehry's studio to impress people," says museum assistant director Kathleen

Mr. Koshalek also takes collectors to the studios of Edward Ruscha, a
California pop artist, and to dinner with John Baldessari, a conceptual
artist. And he gives collectors advice on what artworks to purchase, in
hopes that they will one day either lend the art to the museum, or
preferably give or bequeath it.

Other ways he reciprocates to donors eat away at his salary. For instance,
he just contributed $1,000 to a housing charity supported by Mrs. Irmas, the
museum chairwoman, and will contribute to Democratic presidential candidate
Bill Bradley, following a dinner he attended in March hosted by Walt Disney
Co. Chairman Michael Eisner and USA Networks Inc. Chairman Barry Diller. "I
give to causes of people who support our museum," Mr. Koshalek says.

Fund raising accounts only for part of his workday, of course. The museum
director's administrative duties include managing a 130-person staff and a
$10 million annual budget. In the throes of recent fund-raising visits, he
was in Cologne, Germany, busily arranging for the installation of "End of
the Century," a show he curated about the history of 20th-century
architecture, his passion.

It has taken the museum a year to find a replacement for Mr. Koshalek,
partly because of the lifestyle issues, trustees say. "It's not drudgery,
but it's relentless," says David Laventhol, a museum trustee and former
publisher of the Los Angeles Times. "A lot of museum jobs are open recently
because fund raising at this scale is such a challenging task."

It hasn't escaped the notice of museum trustees that they have never been
invited to Mr. Koshalek's home. Thus, a certain imtimacy -- or appearance of
intimacy -- has been absent. So they are paying his successor, Jeremy Strick
of the Art Institute of Chicago, a housing allowance to help him cover the
costs of entertaining donors there in style.

Meantime, after almost two decades with the museum, Mr. Koshalek will move
on to his new job at Arts Center College of Design, where he will continue
to live the life with significant travel and entertainment budgets at his
disposal. "I'll be doing this all over again," he says.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Sherif (9:40am posting):
You are wise to counsel the use of calm and reason, in what is for many an emotional issue. But I can gaurantee you that student delicacy in the matter of Art Center's educational priorities will only end up being manipulated by the Koshalek administration to serve their own ends. You will attend a meeting, there will be a blizzard of numbers spewn out, everyone will feel the catharsis, nothing will change, and K & Co. will be off on another one of their extravagent travel junkets, merrily spending your tuition money.

Do you know what a Chief Financial Officer does? A CFO is responsible for presenting and reporting accurate and timely historical financial information of the organization he or she works for. The CFO also oversees the capital structure of the organization, determining the best mix of debt, equity and internal financing. A CFO's duties also include economic forecasting and modeling - in other words, trying to predict (given multiple scenarios) the best way to ensure an organization's success in the future.

In 2006 Koshalek hired the college's first real CFO -- Glenn Baker, who had previously been CFO for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Four months later, Baker resigned.

In 2007, Art Center hired Emily Laskin to be Senior Vice President for Development, a critical position in any organization that needs to raise money for such things as scholarships and buildings. Laskin is known all over for her professional abilitiies and recent success in raising money to build Frank Gehry's Disney Hall. Seven months after being hired by Koshalek, Laskin resigned.

Last week, Nate Young resigned. Nearly five years ago his predecessor resigned after about a year on the job, under Koshalek. That Nate lasted as long as he did is a testament to his commitment and love of Art Center.

Follow the money, follow the evidence. When his contract expires, Koshalek will have been here ten years. That's long enough.

By the way, the school does not need to build a hundred-million-plus dollar Gehry building in order to expand its library. Remember your own advice -- "think."

Anonymous said...

Dear Art Center.
I have some questions for you. What have you given to the students in exchange for the price increase over ther last several years? Bigger class sizes, lower student to instructor ratios, and less space to work. A drop in standards for accepting students. Are you aware that your students make the immage of the school? If your students drop in quality, and then so does the school. This isnt the old days where artcenter was the only design school, there are now many others.

Take Pfortzheim for example, tuition is free. If i knew that-guess where I would have gone.

Look what you do to these students, You give them HUGE student loans to pay off...for what reason? to increase your wealth? Did you ever think to give it back to the students? For example, I am aware that a local Car Design Studio donated massive amounts of clay FOR THE STUDENTS, it was then sold at full price to them via the shop. Why would you do that?

Sponsors for the sponsor projects donate upwards of $80,000 or more for the school to do that sponsored project. The students recieve an $800 check. simple math, say 12 students x $800 = $9,600. Where did the other $70,400 go?

To those of you on the pannel choosing schollarship. We are aware that there is unjustice there too. Perhaps the people giving the grades should give it on basis of merit, and not favoritism, gender, and their own opinion of what is cool. Because Magent from 1970's is no longer cool. you know who you are.

Why is there no where to park? is it because there are too many students? - you have perverted the meaning and the name of "art center" because of your greed, or perhaps teh position you have placed yourself in financially.

Why do you persecute the person who has started this blog? Is this information not valid? Is this not how the students truely feel? Is this then, not the truth?
what is it to you? Is the problem your afraid of bad press? thus droping the amount of students coming in and then hurting your fat pocket book? if this is not the reason, please set us straight? The truth...will set you free.

Why did Nate Young Leave?

fall graduate '07

if there are any questions, or answeres to the questions, please call me, and we can discuss.
513 265 0171

robert said...

Hello Art Center Community,
To this point I have stayed out of posting on these comments to cut down on the chatter until a more focused and visceral way of communicating directly with Art Center became available. Most of my complaints of Art Center echo what many people have already said, and adding more kindling to the fire was not something I wanted to do, I wanted to help out where I could so we could organize and take some action. It is frustrating however to see someone adding their 2 cents in to try to hamper this forum of students and others who have no other way to communicate in their current situations, even more frustrating that this is coming from an “aware” individual and student.
There is a reason why we are disorganized and misinformed. That is the purpose of this whole forum. We do not presume to understand the inner workings of Art Center’s systems, we just see the ill effects on our end and we don’t get any answers as to why they happen. We don’t believe that there is a power collectively trying to do evil at Art Center. The fact that there is no “collective” is one of the problems we are trying to address. If you would actually read the responses to date, if you knew that Nathan Cooke has on many occasions tried to engage the staff with his issues, that many of us have thoughtfully approached our administration with no results or no answers at all-you would hopefully think, speak and converse with your fellow students and professors before you so righteously defended this institution.
Our opinions and experiences are all we have to go on, until we can get a hard response from those in charge. I love Art Center, and I am thankful everyday for the people I have met there, my instructors and my education. We are here because it is time for some tough love.
-Robert Quintero ACCD grad spring 08

Audrey! said...

In response to Sherif's post...

Thanks for your viewpoint, it's good to have all perspectives represented here.

As students and alumni, we do not "presume" to understand the inner workings of Art Center but what we can base our opinions off of is our own personal experience and those are valid. As Robert said, we ask the same questions because we have yet to get any answers.

If we are "misinformed" then this forum is the perfect place for top level administration to come to the table with some answers. Why haven't they?

This is not about one student walking into an administrator's office, this is about addressing the Art Center community as a whole so that we can act as a well-informed collective.

Is calling a town hall-type meeting our next action step? We need to hear from Koshalek and The Board.

Anonymous said...

there is a definite need to vent. but there are a few good things to consider...

getting back to the original post"serious play" was really cool. it had lots corporate funding and a big turnout. pr value? probably. how many people have heard of art center beyond the design world? now mabye a few more. good content? i think so. good response from crowd? definitely. did anyone writing here actually see it?

south campus: love or hate it, the place put together programs that were located all around pasadena (grad art, print, archtype press) instead of the school leasing space. the school now leases the wind tunnel space for events.

re: sustainability, talk to george falardeau, svp, operations, about the styofoam issue. it's clearly a priority. it's a cost issue. the kitchen doesn't have space for washing. paper and corn starch cost more. but if there's enough heat, they will have to take the $ from other stuff.

as for $, it's a lot. we all knew that. i agree about a town hall. get eeryone together to hash it out and all the bad blood.

Sherif M. said...

Audrey - I especially appreciated your response – I just don't appreciate or respect, a frenzy that first and foremost is missing all the facts yet. Art Center is abuzz with this latest controversy and the discussion about Nate - its getting a bit out of control.

Jean-Claude Biver CEO of Hublot Horology stated that future companies would need to maintain a level of transparency in order to be successful. For proof of this, look at Nike whom despite their attempts to market past their sweat shop scandal, only truly returned to success when they showed the world (transparently) that they had changed their ways. So I empathize with your goals

That said, then I suggest with a calm demeanor and gentle reproach that one or a group of you could possibly approach Koshalek or the Board of Trustees with the above information – communicating with them the need for our generation to exist in and interact with a transparently operated institution, and suggest the possibility of a town-hall meeting.

This 'right on,' 'you have my support,' one man Luke V. The Deathstar sort of mentality that I feel is pervasive of this discussion really needs to be put to bed and this be handled with the maturity we as professionals are expected to have.

Good Luck

Anonymous said...

I agree that no one’s goal is that Art Center become evil or wasteful. Probably everyone involved in this dialog loves Art Center for their own purposes and needs.

But there is a clear and growing division between those who want to invest big bucks in tangible in-class education vs investing in long term, high profile and high risk projects like elite conferences and spectacular buildings. The goal of the later is presumably to raise Art Center’s global status in a social dialog about design. Sounds cool. What’s become clear now is that there aren’t enough resources to do both and that has driven some recent events that are discussed all throughout this blog. So, your classroom experience is being compromised for an endeavor that may enhance the school over the next decade – may not. Consider how these different approaches address different audiences to benefit the student: One is very direct and looks at spending more money on class activities, the other at raising the global profile of the school in a general branding effort though dialog and architecture. It is impractical economically to do both

Let’s also ask the question: Who assessed that Art Center has a problem participating in and influencing a global dialog about design? Who declared this broken and why? Seems that most of us made the decision that Art Center is ALREADY influential and in fact has been at the epicenter of design for 78 years and that’s why we’re here. Art Center works because of its very unique qualities that prioritize DOING great design over TALKING about design (plenty of large, state universities talk, talk, talk). To me anyone that can’t DO the design doesn’t understand what I mean.

Its OK that you have faith in an open dialog with administration. There are many others who have experienced something else. Not to paint all administration with the same brush, because there are some fine and very helpful people on board. But, there is a very deep and passionate conflict between visions and policies that isn’t at this point going to be resolved with a simple, calm discussion. You can decide who is the empire and who is the rebellion. Its not about evil. In some ways they each have their own coherent logic.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan,

A procedural point. This collection of comments is getting very long and unwieldy. Would you consider creating a new entry or multiple entries, and perhaps focusing on next steps and the primary issues?

Possible next steps:

* Contact the Board of Trustees and express concerns about the renewal of RIchard Koshalek's contract.
* Create an awareness campaign with tee-shirts, a website with a forum, posters, etc.
* Create a town-hall event to discuss the future of education at Art Center

Primary issues:

* Greater transparency and discussion about the future of the school (education, budgets, fund-raising, buildings). I.e. The president and others in the administration must communicate the current plans and open a discussion with the full ACCD community. There are very serious budget problems right now that may damage the school in long term ways - how should we spend the limited funds the college has, and why are we in this situation?

* Is it appropriate at this defining time for Art Center's future to renew Koshalek's contract to run through 2013, or is it time to bring in a new educational leader who has a 21st century vision of where art and design education should go?

* Definition of a 21st century educational plan & priorities to increase educational quality and attract higher quality students and maintain art and design leadership. Make no mistake, Art Center is falling behind right now compared to other institutions.

* Definition of what the school needs in regard to new construction. This should tie in directly to education needs and priorities. There is a groundswell within ACCD that current the building plans are misguided, too expensive, and without clear educational goals.

* Low moral among students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and what to do about it.

* Create a Serious Trash initiative to reduce waste and energy consumption within the school

* Rethink the approach to faculty. The fact that so few faculty are willing to speak up with their names (myself included) is frankly pathetic. Because we have so little protection - no faculty senate, no union, no tenure, and contracts that offer no security - we fear for our jobs if we go against the administration or chairs.

Anonymous said...

who are you, last poster? what is your investment?

Anonymous said...

are you a dean?

Anonymous said...

This blog and discussion is not about the “sustainability” that has to do with recycling and Styrofoam (although god knows Art Center has played a role in non-sustainable consumerism and we use dangerous chemicals and supplies in our craft).

This conversation is about the sustainability of the rare, endangered, and high value essence that we came here for – a maniacal devotion to learning the in-studio thought processes, strategies, skills and craft of design. To learn to cut through the bullshit of just talk and put the real goods on the table - because that’s how Art Center grads get the job done in the real world. Like no one else. That’s our role in helping to positively change the world. That’s what we bring to the dialog better than anyone else.

A least that why I’m here and that’s why companies seek and recruit Art Center Grads. Not because we have cool buildings.

Anonymous said...

would you rather have more trailers liek the annex building? is the ellwood building too cool for you?

Anonymous said...

I love the Ellwood building. I can't stand the trainers / temp buildings. But the great work gets done either way. Art Center students and grads can produce great work under gritty conditions. Just like we'll face in the real world.

Anonymous said...

Meeting Tonight: PASS IT ON...

If you're interested in becoming more informed about the architectural and expansion initiatives, there will be a Community Coalition meeting TONIGHT, Tuesday, May 20 at 7:00 PM in the James Lemont Fogg Memorial Library at the Hillside Campus.

During the meeting Art Center will provide an update on the public comments received on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (see blog post May 19, 9:13PM for where to download a copy) and talk about how Art Center hopes to activate the Coalition to be an effective presence at the City Council meeting which will rule on the Master Development Plan.

To that end, school representatives will display the architectural models of the proposed Design Research Complex in the context of the entire Hillside Master Plan, and discuss the Library’s evolving technology.

Anonymous said...

I made the post @ May 20, 2008 2:46 PM, about setting up another blog post so this series of comments is more organized, and some suggestions about next steps and primary issues.

There was a question about who I am. No, not a dean. A faculty member who loves the school and wants to see it succeed and grow as great art and design educational institution. That's my investment. Who are you?

Anonymous said...

wassup with all this chatter about architecure. we dont even have architecture in the curriculum. is RK really that obsessed with buildings? its what goes on inside that matters here. heck we just make a big mess anyway. give us great teachers and tools and reduce my tutition. i'll do all my classes in the annex if you knock a few $K off my bill

Anonymous said...

Is RK really that obsessed with buildings?


Anonymous said...

This building concern is nothing new. Under David Brown, Art Center looked for ways to expand. A study showed the need for double the size of the Ellwood building. Richard Koshalek was selected as president to make it happen. Ask the trustees who were there.

Anonymous said...

wow. Architecture is an expensive hobby/fetish. As much as $439,950 per year is, I don't think it can support that habit by itself.

Anonymous said...

The Ellwood building is a monument to form following function. It has its faults, but it's been a wonderfully efficient "factory" for some 32 years.

The Gehry building, OTH, will be a monument to....well, Richard Koshalek.

Audrey! said...

Is there anyway that the meeting tonight can be recorded and posted on Youtube for those of us that can't be there?

Anonymous said...

GREAT idea, Audrey!!

Please, please, someone video the meeting (or even record audio using your laptop!) so that we who can't be there can know what happens.

Thanks for thinking of it!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Nate, it's me Mike, the new director of Issues for ACSG. Interesting stuff you typed up there. I'm admittedly a little behind the curve in regards to some of the things you mentioned above as well as all of the fall out from this weekend. Seems nobody bothered to fill me in... In fact, I kind of had to track down and question Shane Heart (of Student Life) yesterday after hearing rumors of someone named "Nate" resigning... I wasn't sure if it was you or Mr. Young, turns out it was the latter. I guess an easy way you could start to get some resolution on your issue would be to let me know? I can't help you, and by extension everyone else, if you don't let me help you. Please?... I think that's a fair proposition. Please utilize me, or at the very least keep me in the loop so I can stay abreast of the situation? I want to be an advocate for student issues, but can't do so if you don't use the resources you have available to you. Why don't we work on this together?

Everyone is free to contact me at:

I'm here to help you all and really really really want to improve everyone's experience at The Art Center College of Design by making it the best it possibly can be. Fair enough?...

Anonymous said...

Oh, and please feel free to attend our next ACSG meeting, everyone. They are open to any currently enrolled students. They are held this term on Wednesday's in the Teachers Lounge from 12pm-2pm. Together we can begin to devise a plan for action.

-MIke Rios
Director of Issues, ACSG

Anonymous said...

Regarding: MAY 20, 2008 3:30 PM
“A study showed the need for double the size of the Ellwood building. Richard Koshalek was selected as president to make it happen”

Are you saying Koshalek was hired at least partially because he was a good fit to get buildings done?

Anonymous said...

A bunch of posts have buried the one about the meeting tonight...starting in just a few minutes. Scroll up to today's 3:09PM post for info.

Show up and speak up!

Antonio said...

KC nice to hear from you.

Ill make it very simple, art center is a buisness (wake up people) , about the "education" it just can be defined with one word INCONGRUOUS, I just needed 7 weeks to know it.
Still I respect other people opinions. The important thing is to keep trying, so good luck my friend.

Antonio (fall term 07)

Keep in touch, Iam leaving in July to the UK to the Royal College of Art.

Anonymous said...

You guys are all barking up the wrong tree. I went to AC years ago and know what? Same things. This is nothing new. The only thing really different now is that the dollars are larger cause the megalomaniacality of RK includes notions of uber-hipness within the confines of his art-rich "build ME a pyramid" world. If you studied where RK came from and what his modes of cash urging has been you would see that he is EXACTLY what the AC BOT wanted - someone to step in and make it RAIN. They needed the cash and RK moved with the bigguns and knew how to soak the school with cash.

Nathan is a designer and as a result a humanist who believes that ideas and the fostering of them should be paramount to a design education. Does that fit with the first description? No. Could it? Yes, but it takes a team of like minded spirits to work together to meet mutual goals.

Check your history and facts and be careful what you are trying to correct. The college exists today because it was saved by wealthy people wanting names on buildings and reasons to attend parties with other wealthy LA area gadabouts to share their latest pyramid, spire, or (insert seemingly culturally important object here). In the end, that is a great deal of how modern education proceeds now-a-days. Shame to lose Nate in this mess - he was a real gem for the school.

As for fighting the of luck to you in your quest. It may be better to build your own mountain than try to take this one down.

Anonymous said...

Let's say you're opening a new restaurant. You decided to invest in that restaurant and invest in quality employees, quality ingredients, quality equipment, all in hopes of increasing your profit and building a reputation. Well, the smart businessman would take a portion of his profit and re-invest it right away and build up and maintain his restaurant and make sure it lived up to the standards it has earned, and hope that it becomes bigger and better. The dumb businessman takes his profit goes and buys a boat, a new car, puts a down-payment on a house. The dumb businessman's restaurant will eventually fall into shambles, the employees won't take pride in their place of business anymore (because if the owner doesn't care why should they?), and eventually the restaurant will lose its reputation and go under.

As far as I can see Art Center is turning into the bad businessman's restaurant. No money has been reinvested back into the students. No new tables, broken easels that are never repaired, lack of electrical outlets, and it seems as if technology is given to us reluctantly. The staff (the people in the offices, not the teachers) doesn't care about us, because if the president doesn't why should they? Art Center's reputation will soon be tarnished, who cares about a Frank Gehry building if it isn't filled with talented students? Art Center, like the dumb businessman's restaurant, will go under and become a thing of the past regardless of the buildings it once had.

Why can't the President focus on making the current campus as best as it can be? Oh and South campus is so under used and yet no one can work in 202 all night anymore? the explanation is there's a lack of classrooms. BULLSHIT. there are plenty.

It's sort of ironic that Richard wants to be the President known as the President responsible of building the Gehry building, but instead he'll be known as the President who single-handedly sunk Art Center.

robert said...

Hello again Art Center community,
I attended the community coalition meeting today entitled “building our future”.
The main concern for this meeting was to inform the community in general about the coming conclusion of the environmental impact report that was submitted for review to the general public. Apparently this was not the first of such meetings, just the last as a way to communicate with the public and potential or current donors to the project. The meeting was hosted by Iris Gelt , with a presentation by the technology advisor Michael Berman and a tour of the architectural model by Patricia Oliver. They were looking to have people show more support for the hillside master plan by having people write in to the department of planning. There has been a lot of the local community that have been opposed to the new building on Art Center’s plot of land. Only 4% of land is being used that Art Center owns on the hill, and they are not planning on expanding on what is considered “developed land”.
Michael Berman gave a powerpoint presentation about what a “library” means to Art Center. It showed the current uses the students have for it. Of course it showed how we use it for everything but a library at times. It seemed he tried to sum it up by saying we are calling it a library but it is just a place to acquire knowledge. When I asked what the reasons for the semantics were, Ms. Oliver interjected that it was because no one knew what they were talking about when they tried to call it a media center or other labels. So, for their purposes they are calling it a library.
What was the surprising point to me was that they emphatically stated that none of the student’s tuition will be used for any of the new building projects. I was relieved to hear that. What I was not thrilled to hear, was that plans for the new “library” start with the building of the library first, and then a parking structure second. Ms. Oliver explained that no one will give money to build a parking structure. When asked by a thoughtful faculty member how the parking would be paid for, they hmmd and hawed until they revealed that there was a company that would build it for us, and then it would be paid back to said company by charging for parking. Lovely.
The new library would also include a technical skills center, meeting areas for students in particular for trans disciplinary uses, and what they are calling a “beta site”, where companies can show off and have Art Center students utilize and test anything from their new software to new materials and technologies. The technical skills center would accommodate more new machinery like cnc machines and other rapid prototyping technologies. They are expecting the new building to bring in a prospective 400 more students. They are planning to replace the overflow parking that is lost in the sculpture garden where the library is to be placed by having the ravine take its place. I asked about the number of spaces in comparison, and Ms. Oliver explained it would be equivalent to what is there already. Ms Oliver also explained that the buildings would be “sustainable” , using primarily concrete (also that new translucent concrete) and solar embedded glass. They also plan to move power and infrastructure for the buildings away from the campus, utilizing the roof of the current building for solar panel arrays. Another point of interest (and sorry for the laundry list, Im not much of a writer)was that the extension that was put on the ellwood building in the 70’s(?) was going to be cut off from the rest of the ellwood building and be given a second floor addition. It was weird to see a 3rd of the building chopped off. And their be a walkway in the middle between where the department chairs are and the shop facilities.
Other pieces of information of note, the annex must come down by November of 2009, the plan for all of the building is anticipated to take place over 25 years, the library is planned to be 50,000 square feet, and there is a separate commission of 75,000 dollars given by Getty for an assessment of the existing campus for much needed repairs and renovations. Those studies have recently concluded.
The only questions that were not answered that I had, pertained to how the department was funded to do all the work that has come this far in terms of the models, planning and of course design on campus. This was tactfully avoided and I would love to find out more about that.
If anyone has any further questions regarding the proceedings at the meeting please feel free to contact me at
I also have some photos of the proposed buildings if anyone cares to see them. I was informed however that these designs were merely place holders that met the specific build envelope. I really wonder how much of our money was spent for getting this project this far and how much money they still need to raise to build it (before they can begin they need half in cash and half in pledges).
Hope this is helpful to some, I was one of two students who were able to attend apparently.

-Robert Q

Anonymous said...

i feel badly for the teachers.

they're the only ones who give a shit about us students and like us. however they don't get to go away on business trips like the higher ups and stay in ultra expensive hotels (rumored 2000 a night per person or something ridiculous like that), and are eating expensive food while on these "business" trips. i can't even recall the last time i even got a SMILE from a higher up when passing them in the hall, and I'm paying for them to go eat, sleep, and play?

something isn't right.

also, it sucks that the teachers can't speak out for fear of losing their jobs. i love the teachers and appreciate everything they do for us.

shoji said...

thanks robert. i appreciate that you went and posted a briefing here. cheers-

discovolante said...

The two biggest issues that need a lot of clarification are where the tuition is going and why are standards being significantly lowered. As a 'child of art center' I remember all the 'horror' stories of it being a extremely tough but of course rewarding. I don't like it one bit that classes are being cut, curriculums de-emphasized. On top of everything I cannot enroll in the classes that I want because either the bureaucracy doesn't allow it or there just isn't any room left. I do feel cheated in my 5th term, now that the excitement has faded and the reality has sunk in.

I love this school but I feel that all the priorities are skewed and the supposed excellence in education is being flushed for things that are utterly irrelevant. Common sense would suggest that it would be easier to maintain and improve what we already have and not start a myriad of draconic projects that serve no purpose than aggrandizing the image of the school through means other than student/alumni excellence.

I support any sort of action to make the situation better. The students are the solution and they need to be heard. Yes we are overworked, sleep deprived and comatose, but this is something that needs addressing otherwise there will be no future for the institution or at least not a future that goes in line with all the talk about excellence.


Anonymous said...

I think the discussion here is great - it has certainly enlightened me to things I had no idea were happening - but when are we going to take this from cyberspace to real space? A blog is a great start, but where is the student government? Where is the chance for people to sit down, in person, and get some real answers? All of this frustrates me to no end, and I want to talk to someone in charge - but as a student, I have no idea where to begin...

Does anyone know where we can start? If we spread the word, I'm sure people will take action; but if most students are like me, they just don't know how to begin to set change in motion.

duuuuuuuuuuuuuuude said...

hey thanks for posting this up...i havnt been here for long but i can already see lotta things taht are goin in this school. it seems like quite a few students at accd loose their passion in design afterawhile not because they are burnt out but becuase they are so fed up with the whole bull shit politics, finance issues, and conspiracies. i try not to think about it but its impossible when you live in it. another thing is..i cant really see what accd has done to prove us that they care. i mean they are so shallow with saying how they are providing us with connections and facilities. hell other design schools got better facilities...i also hope that we can do soemthing about it because wihtout an action, its just gonna be another long rant isntead of cahnge.

Anonymous said...

To: MAY 21, 2008 12:20 AM
re: >>"i feel badly for the teachers".

I’m a part time teacher and a full time designer. I get paid far less in the class than I do in industry. That’s Ok with me. I get so much intrinsic reward from the work I do with students and have been very pleased over the years to see how Art Center grads I (hopefully) helped have flourished. Remember to contact your favorite teachers over the years and tell them how you are doing and how they helped you. You have no idea how much that is valued. I’ll take just one of those emails or calls vs a week in a $2000 night hotel room. Don’t feel too sorry for us. We get rewards that can’t be bought. Although we do with the financial priorities of the school were more favorable to education.
Thanks for your post. I love you students right back.

Anonymous said...

Robert -- thanks for the excellent report on last night's meeting. One thing you reported is an especially good example of administration spin and sleight-of-hand. You quoted:

"Ms. Oliver explained that no one will give money to build a parking structure."

The next question to Ms. Oliver SHOULD be "will anyone LEND money to build a parking structure?"

South Campus, for example, was built primarily with borrowed money, not raised money! Apparently not many people wanted to give Koshalek money to build that campus, so the school borrowed it. Why didn't Koshalek borrow the money to build a parking structure instead? If academic structures are so easy to raise money for, and parking structures aren't, why has Art Center been so unsuccessful at raising money for them?

The college is some $25,000,000 in debt over South Campus. I'll bet that could have built a parking structure and a useful low-profile academic building on the hillside years ago.

But parking structures don't have celebrity sex appeal, and that's what Koshalek is all about. Unfortunately, the aura of celebrity that resonates to the benefit of a public musem like MOCA does not perform to the same advantage for a more focused private academic institution. More intelligent leadership of Art Center would have recognized this early on.

Koshalek can only play this single-note instrument. He thinks we're the Philharmonic or Disney Hall or MOCA, and if we build a lot of sexy architecture people and money will flock here. His track-record shows he's been consistently wrong in that assessment. Those of us who care about and understand education just want effective buildings to satisfy our need for studio and work space. The real sex-appeal and fundraising potential for Art Center is through the excellence of its student work.

Koshalek and Company have been on this wrong track for nine years, and now he wants to do the same for another five. That's why he needs to go.

Anonymous said...

I have been following the postings and am forever grateful to Nathan for initiating the discussion. While his comments about the school's superficial commitment to sustainability should be seriously talked about, clearly educational leadership and financial responsibility are the priority issues.

A recent post says: "I want to talk to someone in charge - but as a student, I have no idea where to begin..."

Well, here is my suggestion:

As far as I know, the Board of Trustees runs the, the discussion has to be with the Board members. Directly. [A few Board members readings these posts isn't enough.]

There is a Board Meeting coming up [does anyone know when?] and a student representing the views of students should be at that board meeting. [And btw, why doesn't a student representative regularly attend the board meetings, like the President of student government? Does anyone know what happens at other schools?]

For that matter, a faculty representative should be attending the board meetings, like the head of Faculty Council. Guess what.....a faculty representative is never invited.

So, the Board of Trustees that runs the school doesn't hear from students OR does that work?

If you can't get invited to the Board meeting, there is a 'Board Book' prepared for Board members in advance of the meeting. This book contains information for the meeting. Ask to have Nathan's original post, plus a summary of the resulting discussion [or select posts] put in the Board Book.

And that's just a start.

Anonymous said...

seriously....someone asks where do they start to get information on how to become part of the solution and stop being part of the problem and you say start with the board......seriously.....that would be like saying I don’t like the war on terrorism so not only should I be able to attend the presidents security council but I should be invited because I am a citizen of this know if you really want to get to the root of the topics you all are discussing why don’t you go talk to you department chair, student counselor, your faculty, or go any other department you want. In most cases the first person you talk to isn’t going to have the answers but they can point you in a direction to find them.....guess what that’s how it works at other schools...having been a student leader in another institution and bringing student concerns to the powers that be...I learned that ….hey its just as easy to help find answers and find solutions then it is to just point out problems......

Anonymous said...

Reply to post May 21, 10:38am

Once again, just a reminder - the students can go to faculty, staff, chairs, deans, etc., there is no tenure thus no protection. If Nate Young and others pretty high up on the food chain can disappear mysteriously, good luck finding anyone to lead the effort.

Why do you think everyone is posting anonymously, other than grads that have nothing to lose and a couple of super brave faculty members (keep an eye out for them, they could mysteriously disappear).

Others schools do have Student Reps and Presidents of Faculty Senates that are part of Board of Trustees' meetings.

This administration doesn't like to hear real issues that aren't aligned with their agenda. They don't understand the world of academia. To them, this is a museum and the visitors seem to stay around for more that a couple of hours.

Anonymous said...

Reply to post May 21, 10:38am

You're right, I can't attend the President's Security Council meeting but on the other hand, the President and his chronies are on the way out! The country is demanding change!

Let's just pray that our George W. is on his way out along with his chronies too.

Anonymous said...

I've heard the next board meeting is June 19.

Any discussion or presentations by students would need to be organized in advance (~a week?).

I don't believe running this through normal admin channels will get us to where we need to be - quite the opposite. Those channels, at this time, seem more likely to diffuse and censor. We need to work directly with a board member preferably the chairman.

If you are monitoring this Mr Peurner perhaps you could contact Nathan Cooke directly (sorry to volunteer you Nathan but you are now a known and trusted link). Mr Peurner we respect your time, we understand being a board member is volunteer work for you and that various rules or bylaws may not permit you to engage directly. This is just a proposal.

BTW: my understanding is that the AC board is all volunteer, unpaid and most members give both money and time as a labor of love for the school. Let's show the board a great deal of respect.

Anonymous said...

oh ya I forgot we are propagating the machine of fear...... you speak up your going to disappear in the big black building on the hill.........I am sorry for my previous anonymous post but I was trying to lead the conversation towards a discussion of things that can be done before we just become a group of board meeting suicide bombers…….cause if no one listens to us then we must do the most radical thing there is to get their attention…..……on no …no.. no wait….. noooo……immmm melting……

Anonymous said...

Last post is right on. But this place has been like this for years. I went there 20+ years ago and it is still the same stuff. There is always rumblings in the masses about change but then you have to finish a model or prep. a folio or get 10 minutes of sleep. Then in the end no one has the energy to do it so they move on.

The entry students are so happy to just BE there. Their mantra "Problems? What problems?" The middle students are still worshipping the seniors - their mantra "That dude can DRAW" and the seniors are so exhausted they just want to go home and sleep - their mantra "SLEEEP" Admin knows this and uses it to their advantage.

Want to REALLY get some attention and have your student needs met? Get someone with BIG money to be your spokesman. Someone from the LA art scene with an axe to grind against El Presidente (the list is pretty long) and use them to leverage what you need.

Just remember - it is not a school it is a lifestyle brand and all of you are being marketed as tools of the corporate facade. If education were their priority the place would look and feel like a college, not a movie set.

Dom Ricco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dom Ricco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Let’s be sure to pass on to Roland Young that there is a love for teachers here at Art Center by the students.

Anonymous said...

Great post there. I think we all have been struggling to realize what exactly we are frustrated with. I think you summed it up nicely.

I'm a 6th term film student who is part of one of the more small and underfunded departments. And I hate to say, my department doesn't spend the money very well. I am going to sum up my eye opening, behind the scenes experiences, my views of art center, and offer some ideas on how we can change some things. Maybe not for us, but for future students. I think the most creative people in the WORLD are at our school and I think we should be taken care of. But we aren't. Our administration certainly over spends. And to certain extents, wastes an untold amount of money on nothing more than vanity and personal agendas. I have seen thousands thrown at mundane things that don't effect us at all. I will touch on those later. Things like the annex building were supposed to be temporary. That was years ago. You know that power plant by the south campus? We own that and they were supposed to build us dorms there at one point. They obviously didn't. And they closed art center europe a few years ago. Something that gave us an international presence. So yes, there are serious money and priority problems. I'll go over what I think are the biggest money sinks: The summits and events, our power consumption, and our food. This could get long, so bare with me.

I work as a projectionist in the LAT/Ahminson and I was in the booth during the "Sustainability Summit". We got an official schedule of the speakers. They either forgot or didn't realize the speakers' individual fee was on the schedule. I looked through it out of curiosity to find fees of $1000, $2000, $5000, and the biggest of all, a $20,000 fee from Paul Hawkin. I also noticed they HIRED outside DESIGNERS to design all the media at the summit. Why they didn't hire a student escapes me. As a film student, I struggle seeing these numbers spent on nothing more than a facade. While I am scrounging up tens of thousands from family and friends to shoot my films. All the while my mom has to pay my tuition with her paycheck from teaching kindergarten because I don't qualify for financial aid. I know a lot of you are MUCH worse off. Film students pay upwards of $10,000-40,000 on each film. The department has never put in a dime of help. So you are either rich and are able to produce 3+ pieces while at art center without a problem, get applauded as "the best", and get hired out of school. Or like so many of my friends, you put your self even further in debt by practicing your art form only to graduate and have to work at target to pay off loans. Or, you work hard to stay in school and don't shoot at all. But then, you can't even get a job after working at target. And to be honest, the most talented students are unfortunately on those bottom rungs. The dedicated, hard working students. None of us should have to go any further into debt having to pay $100,000+ for going to school. For that kind of price, we should be taken care of. And we aren't.

Also this term, I was fortunate enough to be selected to join the private luncheon on super Tuesdays with all the corporations. There, I REALLY got to see first hand what most students only hear about: The bureaucracy. During these events, they unlock the PR staff cages and let them loose smiling and stroking the guests. I tried to talk to one of the the PR ladies and without words, told me to shut up with her condescending eyes. They ran the old "leaders in design" lines, how art center is saving the world by being green, and all that hoopla. The "luncheon" was actually a 3 course gourmet meal. Crystal glasses, real silverware, rented servers. I can't imagine how much it cost. It was lavish, for lack of a better word. Then I realized, the whole TDS system, these "summits", the events, the 100s of thousands they spend each term on it, is nothing more than gaining the opportunity to put big corporate logos on the art center brochure so more students apply and pay even higher tuitions. By being able to experience this first hand, I saw that the administration cares more about these people on the outside than the people on the inside: The students. I say, they ought to stop treating corporations and check writers like royalty and start treating us with the same respect!

The fact of the matter is, our campus is not a green campus. Nor is the administration trying to change that. Think about it, we leave all the lights on 24/7. We leave the all the 300+(I don't know the exact number) computers on 24/7. The servers stay on all the time(for obvious reasons). Not to mention it is usually the temperature of Siberia on the hottest of summer days. I can't IMAGINE what the power bill must be. When you walk down the stairs from the parking lot you'll notice that our gigantic, flat, roof, is in the sun almost as long as the sun is up. And there isn't one solar panel. I'm no electrician, but I would expect if we covered our already empty and flat roof with solar panels, we would save hundreds of THOUSANDS in energy costs.

Ever since the online registration system went up, I had to turn in at least 4 paper forms a term to get into my classes. And every week I have to turn in a paper TIME SHEET so I can get paid for my campus job. The fact we are filling out our hours by hand amazes me. And as you all know, there are only a hand full of recycling bins around campus. By making simple changes and investments, we can cut our operating costs down and hopefully direct some of that money towards the students.

This might not be as much of a money issue but a gauge of how much the admins respect us. We have Sodexho who runs our cafeteria. Which we most likely have a 5-10 year contract with. And as some of you may or may not know, they also cater public schools, and the best of all, PRISONS. Yes, we eat as well as our societies' worst. They are famed for their cheap and unhealthy food, over priced services, and bad working conditions. You can thank them for those bones you crunch onto when you order a hamburger. The liberal, green, and conscientious school we make ourselves out to be turns around and signs with one of the country's biggest and corrupt catering services. I see this choice as a lack of respect towards us. And I know they probably pay way too much for it.

I think the administration usually thinks by the time a student or group is able to make a change, most of them will have graduated. I know we have a student government, but I'm not sure exactly what they do or if they are even trying. Or, maybe they have their hands tied. Art center needs to be a place where the students come first, not corporations. A place where students have an equal chance to compete when they get out of school. A place where we are comfortable and healthy. This is a place that I think is possible if enough of us stand up for it. We each pay 100,000+ to go there. Multiply that by the entire student body and you get millions. Where does it all go? I think we have the right to know. Keep this discussion going, and I think we could improve things. It is their obligation to give us our money's worth and our right as students to stand up. Representatives from each department should be selected along with a few alumni to represent former students. This argument should be presented to the administration in a very organized, professional, and respectful way. I think boycotts, demonstrations, T-shirts, and things like that should be a last resort but not be taken off the table. Discussions should be the first step. This is something going on at most universities around the country. It is something some of the Presidential candidates are talking about. But let's not wait for that. I think we can improve things from the inside.

[Sorry if any of this was redundant or out dated. I haven't had time to read all the comments]

Anonymous said...

The main thing that no one is addressing here on this blog is the growing erosion of viability in professional arts and design arenas. This erosion - the cost of the education against the financial return on the profession no longer "scales" as an economic investment. Which means $120k debt for a $50k job doesn't pencil out.

The only way to "make it" after five years as a hands on designer, photographer, or any other creative person is to give up on being hands on and become a manager, director, or VP. You then become a "leader" in the creative world and your success gradually reduces your ability and sensitivity to truly develop as a creative being. This spawns Designagers - go ahead quote me - who fool themselves into thinking they have "made it" same with film or photo people who drift from the craft. It is not unique to art, chefs become restaurant owners to make real money and in the uber-design world designers become BRANDS to leverage a mega deal licensed with Target or IKEA or whatever flavor brand of the week is the hot buyer for your stink.

ACCD needs to focus on the crafts, the students, the creative spirit that is so lacking in our culture. LA is the nucleus of this kid of churn so that doesn't help the fight. But it was once THE place to ride a wave of creative expression and show the world what ideas combined with excellent execution could mean. Art Center has always been on the cutting edge and in this case it is no exception. It is on the edge of the end of applied arts as creative discipline and showing the face of branding. This demise was set in motion when David Brown tool the helm and over-cooked advertising and marketing into the Art Center oven. All brands die when they start selling the sizzle and stop focusing on the steak.

That smell you hear is your tuition burning a good steak.

Anonymous said...

In response to '6th term Film Student:'

I agree with your suggestion that there be discussion before t-shirts and protests....and the only place you can have a discussion with individuals who can actually make some changes is at the Board level.

Talking to students, faculty and staff is worthwhile....but don't forget, this isn't a democracy. We don't have a vote and neither does your Chair.

You have to talk to the decision makers...or at least get your ideas and concerns on the table. Those decision makers, those Trustees, will be sitting at that table in a few weeks. We currently have no seat at that table...not only do we not have a vote, we have no student or faculty representation.

This is not a jab at the Board...I believe that they thoughtfully do their job and generously support the school with their time, expertise and funds.

....I just think they would want to [need to] know what is being discussed. Otherwise, it may all remain talk.

Anonymous said...

There used to be Faculty Council AND Student Government Reps to the board--they attended the general meeting and the Education meeting. Does anyone know how/when that disappeared? Or does this still happen? Student Government are you listening?

Anonymous said...

I've read all of the comments posted here so far, and I was surprised to discover that our faculty members have so little job security. Could protecting our teachers also be an objective for this EDUCATION FIRST movement (since they are rather important in us receiving an education)? I'd really like to know where all this is heading.

Ezekiel said...

To my fellow classmates and Art Center Brothers and Sisters

I can assure you that this subject is on the top priority list of ACsG. Keep an eye out on the walls for information to have the opportunity to gather your thoughts and voice them to Student Government.

Ezekiel C. Wheeler
Director of Communications

Anonymous said...

There has not been a faculty board member since Hal Frazer retired. The faculty council used to make a presentation to the board until Koshalek isolated them from the board - he did not like what the FC was telling the board. Fear - you bet - and that Is why I am posting this anonymously.

You students have the power. The only time I have seen anything acted upon is when the students marched into David Brown's office with the PRESS. And then they got action (short lived as it was).

Max Ostap said...

Good job Nathan. You are the last drop in the glass full of discontent. Now lets do something about all of this.

Lets demand the information on where and how money is channeled within ACCD. What money has been spent on and what results have been yielded.

If we are indeed wasting all this money, i hardly think there is any reason to increase salaries of those in charge. These things need to be talked about.

We could all complain endlessly about problems within our departments, but lets concentrate on the big picture. And the big picture is Cui Bono? Who is benefiting from all these "funds". I am certainly not seeing it from a student perspective.

I would hate to see that ACCD has turned into a vicious corporation disguised under non-profit banner.

Who is on the board? Contact them. Tell them about the problems. See if they listen (or care) to their own students.

Max Ostap said...

Also, i forgot to add an interesting trivia fact.

'Koshalek' in Russian translates to 'Wallet'. And as old Russian proverb goes: No last name is ever wasted in Russia.

Ophelia Chong said...

Sturm and Drang

Anonymous said...

Mr. Koshalek has reportedly criticized the use of "anonymous" when posting to this blog.

I'd like to invite Mr. Koshalek to post here under his own name rather than delegating that task to members of his entourage, and state categorically that there will be no retaliation of any kind against staff and faculty postings that are critical of him and his administration. Such an open and constructive critical dialogue that already exists in most academic settings would be a welcome change here at Art Center.

Perhaps it would also be an opportunity for him to explain the attempt earlier this week by members of his administration to retaliate against Nathan for hosting the blog and criticizing the Serious Play conference.

Anonymous said...

It seems that there a lot of unanswered question that everybody has and that you will never get an answer to. I think that a neutral party investigating the issues would be of great help.

I posted a news tip at KPCC the local radio station that is connected with NPR. They are a very good radio station with a solid listener base and good reporters. If you would like to add comments to the news tip or place questions that you would like to get answered feel free to add to my tip under:

Subject: Art Center College of Design News Tip

Anonymous said...

I've been hesitant to comment so far but the thing that pushed me over the edge was a note of support for Roland Young.

I took several of Roland's classes when I was at Art Center. Was he shocking? provocative? confrontational? Yes. You either liked him or you didn't. I don't care either way. BUT, he was fired for sexual harassment. Not for anything else.

Stop wasting your "good wishes" on Roland. He's an ass.

Anonymous said...

Maybe while he's here on the blog, Mr. Koshalek could explain how his administration's dependency on a "more bodies/more tuition" strategy for implementing campus expansion has NOT forced Art Center to compromise its entrance standards.

Perhaps he could tell us if his current panic to bring in more bodies for Fall and Spring term fails, will he curtail his extensive travel abroad?

Anonymous said...

Only one rubber glove at a time... were saving for the monument.

I was paroled for good behavior from ACCD in '84, my father in '57. When I was a kid my father would try to explain ACCD with a funny look on his face. It was a school that was like a job so when you got out of school you could go directly to work. That's why I went there, and in spite of administration BS, the instructors understood the role of the school and we graduated able to get hired because we could do a creative job for a company. The strange mix of art and business. The school went as far as how to support - or not support - the 'employees' or students. I recall well being dropped off in Los Angeles at 18 on a Friday with no place to live and only a class roster starting on Monday morning. Figure it out, kid... employee. The school survived in spite of David Brown trying to make a world wide imprint via Art Center Europe, and now it must somehow survive current leadership wanting to be profound by talking up well intentioned periphery to educating designers such as seminars and monumental architecture. In short, the need by some to build an art museum and art colony. Art center does not need for itself to have pedigreed buildings, nor should it provide housing and its own little society. All it is supposed to do is train people with raw artistic talent to harness their gifts. Off they go into the real world to create pedigreed buildings, stuff to go into museums, and a future for many with a bit of good taste and thoughtfulness. I am stunned by the hubris of the school's current leadership . They think that the mark on the world left by Art Center should be one or two buildings that they own and get to dedicate in their name. Scrimp and save for this littleness instead of investing in an army to create so much more on someone else's budget! Oh, I forgot... then they won't get to name it after themselves. I don't trust designers that tell you what they have designed. I don't trust leaders that must have their names left on things for when they are gone. Both are not doing what they are to do for the good of their customer. They are not serving their customers, and the customers will then not continue to ask for their services.

Anonymous said...

The president, Richard Koshalek, has been badly mis-managing college funds and hiding that fact from the board of trustees.

The board is meeting on June 19 to vote whether to extend Koshalek's contract. They may very well request an independent forensic audit instead.

Koshalek is pushing forward an aggressive building plan and program of conferences with single-minded intensity, despite the fact that he is pulling from education budgets and putting the college in financial peril to do so. Tuition has been increasing at a precipitous rate, yet education budgets have remained flat. Koshalek is not transparent as to where the money is going. His original agenda to raise outside money for the master plan has been unsuccessful. The building at the South Campus has placed the school $25 million in debt. The first two design conferences cost the school a great deal; this recent one barely broke even. The Design Dialogues in Barcelona was a disaster. This one-day panel discussion cost the school around $300,000, plus the expenses of Koshalek and his entourage's travel budget while they planned it: a week in London followed by a week in Barcelona, three times a year, for several years.

The college's long-time CFO, Ronald Jernigan, resigned after many years of service. He was replaced in 2006 by Glenn Baker, who had previously been CFO for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Four months later, Baker resigned.

The college's Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Scarlett Powers Osterling, resigned precipitously in 2007. Her replacement, Emily Laskin, well known for her fundraising for Disney Hall, resigned after seven months.

Last week, the college's Senior Vice President of Education and Chief Academic Officer, Nathan Young, resigned.

Koshalek looks like the type Michael Maccoby describes as a "narcissistic leader" in his Harvard Business Review article, January - February 2000 ( Lacking what Maccoby calls a "trusted sidekick" who would anchor his uncontrolled spending, Koshalek, if left unchecked, will bankrupt the school.

Anonymous said...

Scarlett Osterling didn't quit. She was fired. They called her at
home on a Friday morning, the day after the Spring 2007 Board meeting, and fired her. They spent thousands (a few hundred thousand?) of dollars buying out her contract.

I believe Glenn Baker was also fired. And thousands spent buying out his contract.

Keep asking questions - where is the money going?

Robby said...

The lines that divide art, design, engineering, and communication are becoming increasingly less distinct each day. The roles designers are willingly putting themselves into are consistently becoming more complex and challenging. Design as an industry will continue to be navigated by the delicate relationships between emerging technology, new interfaces, and a conceptual projection of how all this will be applied in the future.
Design schools have a difficult role to play…how do you teach innovation?
The simple fact is it can’t, there are no formulas to follow.

Do any of you want to be involved in the future of design? Or the future of Art Center?

Lets put these issues in perspective and come up with creative solutions to these problems ourselves, lets not start a fight, lets open a dialogue, lets create possible outcomes that address sustainability, low enrollment, lower work ethic within the student body, and school spending. Lets create a more interactive and encompassing form of communication between administration and students, lets be designers, and design a better situation for ourselves and future students.
Successful, creative outcomes will not be ignored.

This is not some oppressive dictatorship we need to rebel against; it is a world-class institution that still has some world-class thinkers filling its halls and classrooms. It is part of our job as students to keep Art Center relevant, successful, and innovative.

Lets stop anonymsly posting reworded complaints and start putting our names next to creative solutions.

Robby schaeperkoetter smith

Anonymous said...

of course we're all upset about how much we have to pay to go to school. school is expensive. i know i’ve got loans to last me for a while. but unless you're going to a community college, where you pay 15 bucks a course, that's just how it goes. at all private colleges your tuition does not SOLELY go DIRECTLY to your own education. that's just how private colleges work. and tuition increases every year? again, annoying. but that happens at ALL private colleges. this discussion is kinda pointless because it’s a gripe that applies to ALL private colleges and you CHOSE to attend a private college.

Anonymous said...

Is the discussion really only about the cost of tuition, or is it about accountability for where tuition is going? Is student tuition contributing largely to activities that don’t really have a whole lot of bearing on topnotch art and design education? Do the costly activities of the President and senior staff translate into real educational or institutional benefit? What tangible benefits for the student body, now and in future, can be derived from the Barcelona conference, for example?

These are interrelated issues that don’t need to be framed in a personal way, but they are important, if not urgent. They are honest questions about leadership priorities that impact the future of Art Center, and they should be formulated by us in as articulate a way as possible and brought to senior leadership.

discovolante said...

Disregarding the nostalgia, the fact that classes and curriculums are being shifted and cut is a reality.
The tuition increases are being implemented every term and with little explanation.

The malcontent is not restricted to just students, it is becoming very apparent in the faculty as well. I've heard by now multiple voices of discontent coming from established teachers in the school. The interesting point is that it coincides on almost all points to what has been said here multiple times.

I agree though that this not an issue of "overthrowing an evil administration" but at the same time we cannot be so complacent to dismiss the problems as just whining.

Also the other thing that needs to be put to light is that just because there's always been problems like this since the inception of the school does not mean it is ok to let them slide. I've heard before the litany of old alumni saying: "oh its always the same story" if it the same story why is no one doing anything and just resigning their fate.

Robby said...

i didn't mean to sound complacent...i think most of the issues brought up are here are relevant and warrant further answers and or discussions, i just wanted to try and move forward.

with that being said, people who post rumors based on nothing even remotely close to facts does this forum and our opinions as students a huge disservice.

have some respect.

Ophelia Chong said...

Under the cloak of "anonymous" a few of you have been leaving some very insulting comments and innuendos. If you are in fear of your job, scholarship, or teaching position, I can understand (although it seems to be a culture of fear right now), however those of you leaving comments that are inflammatory and off topic should stop. It's not helping Art Center, the students, admin, and faculty.

aero13 said...

i am a current student and i commend you on your voice.

keep fighting.

Ophelia Chong said...

To stop a thought provoking blog in its tracks, you can post non-sensical and immature comments. This can be done intentionally by experienced PR personnel or unintentionally by an idiot.

Stay on track people.

Anonymous said...

you know i realize why you deleted all the stuff from the post and im glad cause it was getting out of hand. however on another note you have to look how ludicrus the comments were getting and how personal the whole conversation is. i kind of think its human nature to joke or poke fun of serious things to aleveate the pressure of them. with that in mind i hope we can all sit back laugh at ourselves for a moment, step back and step down from the emotional edge that seemed to be driving the comments and really discuss the issues that were brought up. lets move forward together

Eric Schumaker said...

I happen to be the old uphill snow walker anonymous. I'm just too lazy to add a personal, and I don't want to deal with it... A couple of thoughts for 2:45er. Spending resources on things to get noticed by the elite of the world does nothing to prepare students to have a satisfying life using their talents making a living. Honestly, if you want to hobnob at openings holding stemware I recommend the legal profession, or something, anything other than design. And I hate to tell ya, but the stuff you design is still pretty reliant upon the industrial age. Film, software, computers, toasters, SUV's... the fashionables worn to the symposium, and all of the decorations, the aforementioned stemware are all still physical and require being made. Most even end up in landfills. Grapple with that little dust pile under the rug as you glamorize the future of ACCD in a world where elite are impressed by fine architecture and witty, creative conversation with ACCD grads paying off $100k. Focusing on the fundamentals of the craft of design is what matters. Looking at history to understand this is essential. The building in which design is taught will not improve Art Center's standing. It's about the quality of student work. Period. People like me are excited to be involved with ACCD as instructors, and we are admirers of the hard working, focused overachieving students coming out of there. I have humbly been allowed to help hire scores of graduates in the last five years to help insure a successful future for the company I work for. I spend time at all of the usual suspect schools recruiting, and ACCD students are the best. I believe they are the best because of the nostalgic ACCD educational model of having working professional pass on their knowledge in a business like setting. Simple. Walking representatives from this company by a shinny new building on the way to look at inferior portfolios will not motivated anyone in this company to hire anyone. Nor will it help to convince them to make further contributions to the school. It's the work, stupid, and if the work isn't good, no conversation or landscaping is going to make it good. ACCD was the leader in the field when it was in a crappy old building on 3rd Street. Nothing special, just teaching the fundamentals of design done with the tools of the day. ACCD is a trade school. That's good. If you want a liberal arts degree, fine, go to a university and philosophize. ACCD needs to keep the eye on what they are swinging at. Design. Teach talented people to understand a customer and create for them. When they loose sight of that they do stupid things like Art Center Europe at the expense of student tuition and education quality. When any group or company looses sight of their task they corrode. Sears, GM, Ford... And they end up loosing their standing and business to some ratty newbe like Wallmart, Honda or Hyundai. That's OK, they left behind some really nice old buildings. I believe GM just gave their 1920's landmark world headquarters to CCS for $1.
BTW anonymous 2:45, there are a lot of different people posting as anonymous if you haven't yet figured that out yet. Use a bit of the design process you are supposed to be soaking up around there to conclude that. Sorry, that was unkind.

Anonymous said...

STOP IT! children, moles, and maligners.
Serious issues and questions have been intelligently raised here by concerned students. Stop diminishing them with rumors, gossip, innuendo, unsubstantiated accusations, personal name-calling, etc. It demeans all those seeking answers, solutions, dialog. Stick to the issues. Go to the Boardroom and stay out of the bedroom. And stop the mud-slinging. Acting like FOX news is beneath you!

Mark Castanon said...

I have heard all Koshalek wants is the Frank Gehry building, if his contract is renewed, he will build it and leave. He doesn't care about Art Center, he is using our tuition to build what he wants.

If this is true, what would you rather have?, a great education, or a tourist attraction? There is no need for Koshalek here.

Nate Young fought for education, so why is he gone?

Anonymous said...

Eric Schumaker said:
"ACCD needs to keep the eye on what they are swinging at. Design."

This is so true -- what is Art Center's core value? It is the QUALITY OF STUDENT WORK. That's what gets you into the school, through the school, and out into the world where the quality of your work is what gets you clients, jobs, and galleries.

Richard Koshalek's initiatives have only a specious connection to Art Center's core value. They are essentially very expensive marketing strategies divorced from the product they are trying to market, and after nine years he is several generations removed from the core. So when the cost of his marketing requires him to ding the education budget, he just does it. He does it because he's lost his way and has become obsessed building his empire at all costs.

Art Center needs to re-discover its way. You students -- as an alum with very close ties to the school, I can tell you that talk will get you nowhere. You must demand new leadership. The process of change in leadership will create the opportunities -- real opportunities -- for you to have a real influence on the other important issues that Koshalek has ignored and that have been discussed here.

But first, the college needs a new president. Tell the trustees you will accept nothing less.

Nicolas said...

In the last 4 years I've been at ACCD, I have never heard anyone complain about the library. In fact, it is the only thing no one complained about, yet this is what Richard Koshalek wants to 'improve'. However, there is no need for a new library, the current one is already appropriate, and web based databases offer already plenty of resources. But Koshalek isn't looking to improve anything, he is after building something that looks good on paper, and build his ties with his friend Gehry, who will for sure recompense him generously after his tenure as the school's worst president comes to an end.

Anonymous said...

read the wall street journal article posted, it completely shows who Richard Koshalek is....and in his own words. This is just not a very good person. It's one thing to be an elitist and an Art snob (bad enough), but it's even worse to be a wanna be elitist and art snob. He is everything I hate about the typical "design intellectual" hypocrite. Dick must go!!!!!

Max Ostap said...

Yes, please read the article above everyone. You don't need speculations to see who this guy really is. Its all right there!

And the earlier deleted 2:45 post (to which Eric replied so well) is more than enough evidence of how utterly disconnected the upper brass is from what ACCD has always been - a hard core industrial design school... only reason i came to LA.

Anonymous said...

Yes The Wall street Journal article is really interesting (at May 20, 2008 11:29 AM in this blog and easier to read if you copy and paste into Word or something ).

But it doesn’t say to me “he isn’t a good person”. Actually, I admire his scrappiness. What it tells me is this is a man who was hired to do a very particular job at Art Center - raise money and sell a vision of expansion. And he will sell the image whether he has the goods or not. He’s a hired gun just doing the job the board asked him to do and he is relentless at it. You have to admire his ability to wheel and deal for free dinners to move the MOCA fundraising ball forward as described in the article. I can relate to the guy in this story just doing the best he can with his limited resources. Fake it till you make it. I been there. Makes him more human to me.

So again, as mentioned in the posts above several times, we have to get our issues to the Board: The people that write this fellow’s goals and job description. His desire is to handle us not lead us. His job is to maximize his time to hunt big game donors not deal with operational and educational issues for which he is neither qualified nor passionate about.

This blog has been up for more than a week but there has been no visible, present attempt by the president to lead the student body out of this mess. Other than asking Erica Clark and Iris Gelt to handle the bog owner Nathan. How hard is it for a leader to step into the spot light, take the heat, and lead the conversation in a more productive direction? Even if all he was doing was handling us so that this blog didn’t stir up dirt and obscure his fundraising - He has failed to lead and protect the school. A week has passed with nothing productive from his admin! Just pause and consider this as evidence for a moment.

An open dialog with admin will not solve the problems discussed in this blog. Does the ACSG need to lead? Hello Board of Trustees! Are you out there listening?

Lee Bolton said...

Here's the thing, I think that the current administration probably did some good things along the way, but really has lost sight of what they were looking for.

This however is no excuse though for the problems and complaints that the faculty and students have.

I hope to see many of you at the student meeting on wednesday.

Anonymous said...

Lee said:
"This however is no excuse though for the problems and complaints that the faculty and students have."

Lee, you're right, it's no excuse. But the point some of us have been trying to make is that with this administration, talking will do no good. Dialogue will not lead to change, you'll just get lip service. Creating a seat for a student rep on the Board is a good idea, but will not lead to change.

If the students want to affect real change at Art Center, they must resolve to:

1. demand that the trustees do not renew Koshalek's contract.

2. demand that the students play a role in the search for and transition to new leadership.

I do not use the term "demand" lightly. Demands should be made in a civil tone and respectfully, but anything less than a demand will not be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

Right on Nathan! Hit Art Center where if hurts the most…… in the pocket book. Stage a walkout. Could this ever? Yes. Will this ever happen? Maybe. The power resides within the student body because it’s the students that agree to pay to go there. They will charge whatever students let them get away with.

Ezekiel said...


Hello to all,

Let me reassure everyone that this topic is TOP PRIORITY on the ACsG agenda.
We have scheduled a SCHOOL-WIDE MEETING
from 12-2pm
in the cafeteria

Come and have the opportunity to sit and listen to FACTS that have been gathered over this past week. THIS MEETING IS TO PRESENT INFORMATION AND AWARENESS AMONGST THE STUDENT BODY, we also extended the opportunity for anyone in attendance to come with questions in mind and based on time constraints, have 2 minuets to voice your concerns formally.

Highest respects,
Ezekiel C. Wheeler
Director of Communications
Art Center Student Government

Anonymous said...

Ezekial -- I'm so pleased to see student government taking a leadership role in this.

You said FACTS. Is this a meeting run by students? Will the facts be presented by members of the administration, or will they be present? Where have the facts been gathered? Who will answer the questions?

Unfortunately, facts are only as reliable as the persons providing them. The Koshalek administration has been "cooking the facts" for a long time.

Anonymous said...

where is YOUR evidence that anyone has been "cooking any facts?"

robby said...

great, see everybody wednesday.


Anonymous said...

To 11:10 p.m. last night, 6:35 a.m. and 9:14 a.m. today, if all of this outrageous stuff is happening (the money laundering and hiding, trips to Europe with the mistress, people being deep-sixed from the administration, fear of retribution running rampant) what the heck is it doing on a student blog -- it should be on HBO?!?!

To the so called “caring faculty member” aka “deep throat,” why don’t you take this stuff to the media yourself? You said to ask questions, we’ll I’ve got questions for you as the source of all this “information.” How do we know YOU’RE a credible source of info? You seem quite happy to let the students be the ones to air your grievances and laundry list of scandalous dirt. But if most of this stuff happens to be completely UNTRUE, you won’t be standing out there in the open like an idiot under your cloak of anonymity. You’ve got more “info” than any faculty member I know - so you are either part of the administration or maybe you’re speaking for an employee who’s no longer around (all helpfully listed in earlier posts) - or hey, maybe you are one of the disgruntled former employees with a really big axe to grind. And before I’m accused of being a member of the “administration” or for drinking the cool-aid, just because I don’t jump on to the band wagon doesn’t make me the bad guy. And again before you point your finger at me for choosing to be anonymous, if you really are a faculty member and it turns out I’m one of your students, I wonder how fairly you’ll treat me at grading time for questioning your credibility. You’re spending a lot of time and energy telling us what to do and to think which you might see as your job (though from all the posts at hours of the day it seems to me that closely monitoring this site has become your full-time occupation), but we’re not in the classroom right now and we’re talking about real people and their reputations. It’s valid to want to ask YOU how you happen to know the things you do before you ask the students to go out and deep-six the current President and his administration.

Anonymous said...

I agree that one of the biggest issues or problems is that there isn't any transparency. Students, faculty and most of the administration don't know what decisions are made, why they are made or when.

No trust has been built, and no credibility sustained.

Ditto on the comments about why so many of us faculty are posting anon. Dissent has not been tolerated by this administration at all.

Anonymous said...

In response to 11:36…

I think it’s a little extreme to assume that everyone should be consulted for every decision made regarding Art Center. And I don’t believe that the administration is really trying to hide anything, or deceive everyone, or that they’ve got it in for the students. I think that when we ask questions in the proper forum, we will be given answers. And I don’t feel that this needs to be such a hostile discussion.

Anonymous said...

Is it me or is it odd that some of the replies seem to disapear after a while?

Anonymous said...

Maybe it would be a good idea to see what presidents at other colleges do, what exactly they are in charge of. And also look at the student organziations and means of communication to adminstration. That would help make the argument. Of course, everyone at Art Center likes to think it's seperate and doesn't need to look beyond itself.

Anonymous said...

For those interested, it has been indicated to me that some or all of the trustees may be present at an event on June 12 at 6:30 in the board room.

Eric Schumaker said...

Sounds really sappy, but treat it like a design project. I am sure Kashalek(sp) has what he believes is a valid vision. This has been distilled as whether it is in the best interest of the school and students to build an image getting building. Fine. And at the same time there is the absolute fundamental need to train designers. The problem is when the former impedes upon the latter, actually or perceptually. ACCD has had a past of loosing touch with the core business of education at its Pasadena /USA campus to pursue other activities. And when the light was shed on the damage caused by the bad investment into Europe and Asia, the students, alum, etc were told that it would take time and increased tuition to fix things. So it is reasonable for there to be a bit of distrust in the motivation or actualities of trying to build some new building; especially when tuition continues to rise, and then some good people resign from the faculty. So, with that as reasonable, objective description of situation - add and delete what is supported by fact - go about trying to see what can and should be done. Complaining about tuition is going to be a hard sell. Students are paying it. I agree that it seems too high, but as long as people keep paying it then the market is saying it's not too high. But there may be argument that students are not getting jobs, or are not getting the right training. If that can be supported then the leadership may be compelled to respond. For example, this summer one of the mills in the shop is being taken back by the loaner. How did this happen? why is there no replacement? Money?... If it's a money thing, then where is the money being spent?...
Tread with caution discussing comparisons of ACCD to other schools unless everything is taken into consideration - the similarities and differences. I do seem to recall that ACCD has a very low endowment compared to other top private schools... how has the board addressed this?... Is the tuition too high compared to top schools in other disciplines? Harvard? Yale? What do grads make relative to tuition? All of this may lead to some tools to use in getting some satisfaction. But then again, what do the students want? What is the school's task? Just thinking... I do believe that a bit of transparency and clarity would help the school's directors allow all to go back to dealing with simply learning. People tend to assume the worst when they are left out of the conversation.

Anonymous said...

Some years ago consultants were brought in to review the process by which the school communicated with the Board of Trustees. It was determined that only the President of the school should communicate the State of ACCD to the Board.


Anonymous said...

Art Center’s business model is an interesting one, in that our clients are our end product, the only other such enterprise would be the hospital model. The later having the distinct advantage of being able to bury their mistakes.

WASC cited one of ACCD’s biggest problems being poor communication. Communication between administration and students, administration and faculty, administration and staff. Apparently the school is not as transparent as some earlier posters would have us believe. Poor communication breeds anxiety and fear, which in turn, breeds anger and mistrust. Is this really the kind of environment that we want to live, work or study in? No one should be in fear of being fired, expelled or other wise chastised for what they think or say. This a place of higher learning that demands a difference of thought.

Thank you for launching this dialogue.

There have been others... Ron Jernigan faithful CFO of 25 +/- years, was forced out by the president before his employment contract was up, leaving a debt that had to be serviced for years. The next CFO left after only a few months. Rumor has it that the 2006 accounting has yet be closed due to a short fall of several million tuition dollars. Apparently the president’s concept of fiscal responsibility is somewhat problematic. Can we afford to have multiple CFOs on salary while receiving the services of only one? Afford tantrums?... Mr Koshalek?

The issue is the Endowment. The larger the endowment the easier it becomes to subsidize other activities, reducing the pressure on tuition. Witness the paradigm shift at Stanford, this is the true promise of higher education. At 5% interest their endowment of $17.1 billion becomes an annual income of $870 million--an estimate. Be aware, if in fact 90% of ACCD’s cash flow comes from tuition then it stands to reason that a goodly portion of the scholarships granted come from tuition. This is the divisive nature of being tuition based, and expands the whole fear and anxiety paradigm. Scholarships should be funded wholly and completely outside of tuition. Sadly without a substantial endowment this issue becomes nothing more than accounting slight of hand and a burden to all.

It is time for ACCD to embrace the very nature of change we represent, that we profess to the future. Communicate with one another and respect those ideas. Become fiscally responsible for today, this decade and the next. Do the best that we can to build the endowment and then build it some more. If we cannot be comfortable with the ever present dynamic state of change that is design--and the point is design not architecture--then it is time to bury this mistake.

This is a vote of no-confidence in the president.

Anonymous said...

Several of us have stated that we fell in love with the Ellwood building when first drove up the drive. And its true we are in love; but consider this, it is design, it is architecture. Which is also true of the proposed Gehry building. Cool architecture attracts students. Do you think that any of us would have applied to a school built of temporary buildings?

Eric Schumaker said...

It does seem like ACCD is on the pay as you go system. That makes cashflow king, and thus tuition the hot point as it is the beginning of the cash flow. A strong endowment would remove this pressure, of course. I presume that the idea behind building lavish or impressive buildings is to help draw in money for the endowment, however, the cost may be too high for this attraction? A kind of hail mary pass. It may be that Kosholek may have good intentions with this type of plan - invest in something that outsiders would be drawn to and then contribute to the school. However, an analysis of who actually gives money may find that their motivation is from the humble task performed by the school - educating the best students. Great students leads to bigger endowment, not great buildings and social events leads to bigger endowment. This may be tested by looking at the endowment coffers after a large social event or symposium at the school. Do these events bring in cash? Compare this to successful projects with companies. Great project with say, Nokia leads to donation to the school. That is a bit of math that may lead to some clarity. Do the art gallery shows have a net gain? If so could htis gain be extrapolated into a what if the school blows its cash on a cool new building...

Anonymous said...

woohoo! 200th comment!!!
thanks to nathan for such blog, and i do agree with you on spending funds on education prior to anything else. after all, that IS the reason we're here for.

...i flew from nj/ny because of the quality of work that came out of the school, NOT the faculty/staff. im too busy to be complaining about tuition.
and every other private institute cost about the same anyway...
although im living off of loan money, im just happy to be here rather than any other art/design institute in america. (although the general public have never heard of ACCD)

dont forget that we are the future leaders who will design the world. focus on your damn portfolio cuz u aint here for long. are you suprised that there's politics in every corner of the world? well shit... you better get used to it real fast.


-David Gin Lee

ps. the school cafeteria is "C" rated. what did you eat today? hahah

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