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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Bambi said...

OK, so now that there is a slight respite:

How about making things right with Rachael Tiede? She handed you the transparency you all asked for, and she was fired for it.

I think we should pay her back and ask for her reinstatement as an ACCD employee. Hopefully not in one of the "bloated" departments that needs to get scrapped ;-)

She gave 10 years of service to us. She was clearly "working out" as an employee.

Ophelia Chong said...

Pasadena Art Center won't renew president's contract
By Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 25, 2008

After an intense grass-roots protest movement by students and alumni of Art Center College of Design, trustees of the elite Pasadena institution have decided not to renew Richard Koshalek's contract as president when it expires at the end of 2009.

To read the full article please go here:

Ophelia Chong said...

On FutureOfArtCenter

Please add your comments on:

1. What is the essense of Art Center, and how should it evolve?

2. College Governance - Best Practices?

3. Task Forces - are they set up right?

Alternate Perspective said...

Nate Young was a warm person and he was one of the only upper administration people to smile in the hallways and talk to students. I understand his popularity and I hear what y’all are saying about his knowing the school.

But bringing back Nate is NOT the answer and I’ll tell you why: Nate had a long-term vision for the school that was too narrow. And that is why his presence would be divisive.


The Arts and Media group has never had a dean. Nate chose chairs from every other group on campus who he turned into deans: Mark B., Nik H., and Andy O. But he didn’t choose a single chair from the largest grouping. This meant that students from these departments did not have representation in any of Nate’s secret educational meetings where plans were made, including budget. Again, every art, illustration, photo, and film student should oppose the return of someone who did not appreciate their departments and did not respect their department chairs.

It gets worse: Nate had a plan to eliminate art and critical thinking (what Andy O. calls intellectual critics and theoreticians) from the campus entirely. He started by getting rid of the Theory and Crit MA. Next on his list was to dissolve fine art media into photography and illustration. He knew he couldn’t get rid of Grad Fine Art until after Koshalek left but I'll bet that was in his plan too.

Nate was a really nice guy but unfortunately his view of design, not to mention ART, FILM, PHOTOGRAPHY and ILLUSTRATION, was too small to make this school a global leader. Bringing Nate back would be a big mistake.

Ophelia Chong said...

Alternate Energy

This was well known within ACCD, but not outside with alumni that occasionally check in. That is why I still feel that bringing Nate back would be divisive. We need to start new, New President, New CAO.

I am willing to listen to someone on the ground at ACCD why they feel Nate Young should come back or not. As an alumni I do not know the day to day situation is.


Bambi said...

I think the BOARD of TRUSTEES should be made up primarilly of Alumni. Those who went to Art center, know what it is supposed to be about. They should know how to communicate a vision of what our community needs to our CEO, CFO and CAO.

Now as far as the CEO goes, I thin it is dangerous to hire an alumni. Like "Alternate Perspective" writes, it would be too easy for a "Trans-guy" or an "Illustration chick" to push too narrow a view of Art Center. We need someone who knows how to RUN something of this size. Hopefully an educator who knows about operations and the academic world.

As far as the CAO goes, I;d prefer someone with a design background, but also, probably NOT an alumni. When you have an alumni in such a position, it means they then pad the rolls with their old friends and buddies. I'd prefer a guy who does not have an allegiance to any particular department or major.

As far as CFO goes, I say that like any other large business (Art center has over 500 employees), we need a new outsider with strong financial analysis and planning credentials. He or she should be a CPA, and familliar with the ABSOLUTELY ETHICAL reporting of the numbers. We have come to distrust the numbers at Art Center, and that should start with the CFO.

Ophelia Chong said...

I am moving over to FOAC because I am double posting.

And Bambi!!
Gender typecasting. Boys and cars, Girls and illustration?


Bambi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bambi said...


I just can't win the "PC" battle, can I? Be thankful I considered a female president.

If I say "Trans chick" someone will just accuse me of having a bias towards Santa Monica Blvd (wink).

I also happen to like having multiple places to write. Just in case benevolent dicatorship (ownership of the blog) becomes too constricting to free speech.

Ophelia Chong said...

:O) Bambi

Finally a sense of humor sneaks in.
I am happy to see that here.


Bob said...

David Mocarski for CAO

Bambi said...


You are no longer allowed to roam the halls of Art Center with any disposable tableware. Also, you'd better show up driving a Prius that's been converted to run on Bio-Diesel (lol)wiop

Jason said...

I doubt we'll see that. Nathan rides a bike everywhere, he wouldn't be caught in a Prius.

Seriously though, Nathan gets more props from me than Captain Planet.

RIP said...

Could someone explain to me why it’s OK that the president, with 18 months left in his contract, has announced that upon his departure that he will work on:

“the conception, design and construction of an innovative art and design college with digital library and virtual design museum, and the organization of a world design event, both in Asia”


Can you imagine a top executive at Nike, Apple, GM, P&G, WPP, Disney, etc announcing that they’ll leave in 18 months or so and when they do they’ll be starting a similar, potentially competitive company in Asia?

Is it OK that he may develop a competitive school? Is it OK that he may be working on this while still on Art Center’s payroll? Is it OK that he has access to the materials, processes, minds, and traditions while still at Art Center that would be enormously helpful in a start-up endeavor such as this?

I wish Mr Koshalek well. He should be free to do these things on his or someone else’s time and money. What I can’t understand is that this activity has been announced on our own website while he continues to be on the school’s payroll with access to all the schools resources.

Seriously, what is going on!?

Mr. Perspective said...

I agree with RIP. RK has already used plenty of Art Center's money for his own personal pleasures. Time to move on.

Nathan Young resigned in protest as the only method he had to highlight the questionable leadership style and questionable direction RK was leading the school in. The board just proved him correct by rejecting RK.

TIme to give Young and Tiede their jobs back and move on. He was so concerned about the future of the school he resigned in order to make a loud and visible point. The only way he felt he could quickly wake up the students/faculty/board before RK sneaked his contract through and headed Art Center down 4 more years of mis-direction. Now lets reward that commitment and give them their jobs back.

If the board would like to conduct an open search to aid in the healing and rebuilding that is their decision. And that would be fine. But at least give Nate and Rachael their jobs back. They did nothing that should leave them without their jobs. Seems very appropriate.

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ophelia Chong said...

ACCD DNA: Sense and antisense

What if one person held all the ACCD DNA in their being?

They would be confused half the time and clear the other, part of their brain would want to have neat lines, the other would want big fuzzy gooey acrylic splotches. The left hand would fight the right over which one holds the pencil.

Some mornings when they look in the mirror, they see a stranger with matted hair and then flail around looking for the razor. Other days they would purposely paste the square off center. If you ask them what color you are holding, they would jump from magenta to fuschia and back to magenta while slapping themselves across the face.

ACCD DNA is made up of a dozen crazy strands, and it's all twisted up into a ball.

Partly frustrating, and fascinating, it's not right or wrong. Its Art Center. Where there is no center, just strings of matter held together by passionate people.


Alternate Perspective said...

Regardless of your position, you should all be troubled by the actions of the Board. They behaved badly. Within four short weeks, they turned their backs on projects and people that they had been approving and tracking for years. They did not stand behind their own previous decisions. Now what is going to happen? Why would any good candidate for President accept a job at a school with a weak board who acts hastily in response to an internet-based student protest? Why would any decent candidate for Provost step into this mess? (Mind you I am not saying that the Board should disregard student's sincere and valid concerns, nor am I saying that the problems aren't real, I’m simply saying that the Board responded without doing proper research and getting a full understanding of the entire situation.)

We were ALL played, from students to board members. This was at heart a power struggle between two men. Now both have fallen and we all get to pick up the pieces. Shame on all of us for getting caught up in a frenzy, smelling blood, and refusing to step back and engage in reasoned debate.

It’s not too late for the community to show our better selves to the world and restore stability in the process. We need to begin the hard work of collaborating on our future. We need to allow Richard to disengage gracefully over the coming 18 months while still holding him to his promises, regardless of how we feel. We need to stop the character assassination and angry salvos immediately. It is the only way that we can prove to any future President that this is a school worthy of his/her leadership.

thewallshaveeyes said...

Alternate Perspective ,

You are now seeding a bunch of conclusions that I, for one, resent and am highly suspicious of your motives.

You are suggesting the board acted hastily and did not do their research. All they have done SO FAR is not approve RKs contract renewal. Which was researched and discussed for a year far in advance of Nate’s resignation. The board vote was scheduled for this meeting well in advance. Please provide any factual argument to your conclusion.

Suggesting this was simply a power struggle between two people is absurd. After 1200+ blog posts and 1400+ petition posts it is clear that there is a need for change. And it’s clear there has been ample debate. FACTS have been presented that show the leadership was moving in the wrong direction. Many of us involved in the process DIRECTLY OBSERVED the current administration work to manipulate this group. There is a list of those activities on FOAC: pressuring Nathan, dismissing Rachel, photoshopping Nate, We have RK misleading the student body on tape about his renewal. There has been an utter lack of transparency,….I won’t go on. These things have been covered ad nauseum. And there is SO much more .

I cannot believe RK is still here. I cannot believe that the activists on this blog have turned a soft cheek to the very group that did all these things and so much more. I know RK has called a number of you - reached out personally- right? – suggested you all “get involved in the process of selecting a new president”. Made you each feel important didn’t it? Connected? Think about that people.

This is a dangerous time. Staff and faculty know it. For us, there is a wounded bear in the building. Not a lame duck. Cooperating and moving towards consensus is not possible for many of us given the structure, task forces, etc that did not get resolved. Cooperation will ultimately end many people’s careers. The board did not go far enough. Many of us believe that RK hopes to stay beyond 18 months. All he needs is time to change the tide. Time that is bought by a presidential search process that becomes so complex and factionalized that it’s very difficult to resolve.

Do I sound paranoid? Its just that I have been around a while.

JR said...

Alternate Perspective 2:57pm

Regarding your statement about a Dean for Art and Media, Nate offered that position to Anne Burdick. She declined the offer. Perhaps Anne would be so kind as to verify this fact.

Also, I do not understand why you feel the need to further divide our community.

thirdgen89 said...

Alternate Perspective,

Think about this: Maybe the next president of ACCD will agree with all the bloggers and petitioners and faculty and see clearly what has to be done to save the school and preserve the spirit.

Expanding was obviously NOT a good idea. Sometimes it is better to stay small. This breeds exclusivity, accepts the best of the best and fosters an image of excellence.

Think about this: Country Clubs have been doing this for years. Everyone wants to get in, but only a select few are allowed. The reputation builds off of this.

All my instructors at my community college here in Illinois were saying "Wow, that is a great school. Hard to get in to..." when I mentioned that is where I want to go.

Hopefully the next president will understand that bigger is not always better. You lose a bit of yourself when you become too big.

Walk soft, carry a big stick. That is what attracted me to Art Center.


Ophelia Chong said...

Dear thewallshaveeyes, alternate perspective,

I agree with parts of what both are you are saying.

1. collaborating on our future

2. stopping the character assassination.

3. the board did their research

What I believe is that we can work together. Spreading paranoia is not going to help. thewallshaveeyes, I don't know your position at the college, so I can't comment on the state or reality of your paranoia. However, if you feel that your job is in jeopardy, it would be a good time to seek out supporters and bring change by acting as a group.

And I am always around to talk. And if you have been reading this blog, I do not betray confidences.


Alternate Energy said...

Please note:

Alternate PERSPECTIVE and

Alternate ENERGY

are NOT the same poster.

Alternate Energy does not agree that the Board should be a focus of our attention. Boards are inherently uneven in their commitment and understanding, and ours is no different. It has, however, acted responsibly and proactively in this situation.

Our focus should be the paid leadership of Art Center. Richard Koshalek must not be allowed to use the college as his private country club and bank account for another 18 months. He'll only get in the way of real change.

If bringing back Nate to fill the leadership void is a good way for the Board to sever the ties with RK sooner rather than later, that is what they should do. Nate is smart, and a consensus-builder. He will understand this is a different place now than it was five weeks ago, and I am confident he will make the right adjustments to unify any split factions of education.

Bambi said...

RIP said:

"Can you imagine a top executive at Nike, Apple, GM, P&G, WPP, Disney, etc announcing that they’ll leave in 18 months or so and when they do they’ll be starting a similar, potentially competitive company in Asia?"

No, I can not. I must admit.

"thewallshaveeyes" has some good smarts in his or her head.

Seriously, the board of trustees did NOT just read a petition and then decide unanimously to not renew the contract. If you know how corporate boards work, you'll know that decisions are formed informally over the course of weeks and months, and an actual board meeting itself is just the "for the record" vote.

I think that budgetary issues as well as not getting along with Nate were probably two "key" things that led to the non-renewal. It may also have been that 1-2 board members switched their votes in the recent unrest. If there is ANY power struggle going on, it's probably within the board itself.

The board did not "solve" anything. As thewallshaveeyes pointe dout, there is not a lame duck, but rather a wounded bear in the building. Watch your backs people. The rhetoric is starting to sound like we've all been invited to dinner, but really, we have not.

The board has issued one very vague statement, and just because they wrote one unified statement, does not eman they are "communicating" with us.

This is where we must show them that we really mean business this time.

Bambi said...

"Richard Koshalek must not be allowed to use the college as his private country club and bank account for another 18 months."

With this, I fully agree. If anything, his travel schedule should be seriously curtailed. I think an appropriate thing would be for the board to also replace the CFO, and in the meantime, have that CFO report directly to the board. Art Center spends money in the executive suite the same way these megachurches do. Acountable to virtually no one.

Bambi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bambi said...

Thewallshaveeyes wrote:

"This is a dangerous time. Staff and faculty know it. For us, there is a wounded bear in the building. Not a lame duck. Cooperating and moving towards consensus is not possible for many of us given the structure, task forces, etc that did not get resolved. Cooperation will ultimately end many people’s careers. The board did not go far enough."

But this is the most poignant:

"Many of us believe that RK hopes to stay beyond 18 months. All he needs is time to change the tide."

I have to admit, I'm keeping an eye on this as well. Who is to say that the "exhaustive" search will not ultimately result in Koshalek being hired as the new president? Perhaps their plan is to create this illusion of change, wait for the noisy student to graduate, purge the disloyal staff members and faculty members and just "wait out the storm"

FOAC and Ophelia (and perhaps Nathan)... Have you been recently contacted (personally) by the current guard? For those of us independently contributing to this effort, I think we should get the truth. I think we deserve to know if this is all "for real" and we should get to decide for ourselves.

Alternate Perspective said...


You sound like a perfectly reasonable person to me and you do sound a little paranoid too. We all are. The thing that saddens me is that you would attack me so vehemently for offering a different version of the story. Why would you question my motives? Do I question yours? Don’t we both have the same motivation—to make a great school? I’ve been here a long time too. The thoughts I express here are carefully considered. I am finally feeling comfortable enough to speak out in this forum because I feel that the world needs to know that Art Center is a place where intelligent debate takes place in a respectful manner. My intention is not to be divisive. But I also intend not to be scared away by intimidation and attempts to discredit me because I might disagree with you. The issues have been positioned in a divisive way and that’s what I’m actively opposed to! There is nothing black and white in this entire situation.

For all of us, I want to know--what is your evidence that the board did their research? Did they talk to Faculty? Department Chairs? Students? Did they set foot on campus, perform interviews, sit in on classes, talk to alumni, attend events, conduct surveys? How, exactly, did they conduct their research?

Please, I did say that there have been real problems and that they absolutely do need to be addressed. I am not denying the bad actions of the Koshalek administration. I am simply saying this is a far too complicated situation to have a single answer to its conclusion.

Nate Young was a smart guy—a shrewd executive. Don’t you think the timing of his resignation was strategic? Did he leave on the day that he encountered his own personal “last straw”? Or did he leave four weeks before the vote on Richard’s contract because he knew which way the board was leaning already and it wasn’t in his favor? Was it a last-ditch effort because he needed to make a radical gesture in his bid to unseat Richard? Unfortunately we may never know. While some may agree with both the means and the ends, please don’t claim that it was an act of self-sacrifice. It was a strategic act of political maneuvering. That’s what executives do! Nate was no dummy. But he did leave without any explanation to any of his constituents--he left us all in the lurch rather than stick around and make a strong case that the entire school could hear and participate in.

I don’t like game playing. I don’t like being played. I’d like to suggest that we get off the Nate v. Richard thing--because they’re both flawed--and turn toward more productive endeavors like imagining a future for the school, that’s all. If we had governing procedures and best practices from education, the school would not be hinging on a battle between two high-powered players who both operated with closed door meetings, ill-qualified cronies, and a top-down approach to governing. Instead, students, faculty, and staff would have been involved all along in setting policy, agendas, etc. Moving forward, we need to show that we are a reasonable bunch of people and not a lynch mob. We need to do be sensitive to the appearance of our actions to the outside world—something neither side in this polarized world has been very good at to date.

Future of Art Center said...

Bambi - you asked if we have been contacted by "the current guard" - I assume you mean Koshalek & team? Ophelia has been contacted, and she can discuss the nature of this contact. I have not been contacted. I don't know about Nathan - he's been pretty busy with his normal work (damn, why can't I get to do that...).

Here's my take on this. Assuming all the background politics with Koshalek and Nate and whoever else get resolved in this week (some claim that Nate coming back is still in play, though I'm doubtful), we'll have a situation that is set. Once the playing field is established, Ophelia and I feel strongly that we should work with whoever the players are. We want to have a real impact on how things develop, and that means working on the "inside" in the sense that we want to be at the table helping make decisions.

This does NOT mean we believe everything anyone says, or will allow ourselves or the FOAC site get drawn into personal agendas. We will always remain independent. What we can do is leverage Koshalek's desire to leave a positive legacy (assuming he stays around) and make sure changes happen. We must absolutely get Art Center's house in order so that we can attract a great new president and provost. That will take working directly with everyone for some positive change.

Basically, the we believe the focus should be on the LONG RUN future of Art Center, while making sure the short run issues are taken care of. Does this address your concerns?

Alternate Perspective said...

oh, and jr--why on earth would Nate offer the Dean of Arts and Media to a chair from a different group?! I find it hard to believe. And if he did, wouldn't that be deeply offensive to the experienced and reputable Chairs who run those departments? Wouldn't it be, in fact, divisive?!

Ophelia Chong said...

The House That Tink Built

We just started a new post on collecting alumni's reminiscences of their experiences at ACCD. Read Andy Graybeal '60 and Hugh Nutting '61 letters about Art Center .Please adds yours.

Future of Art Center said...

Regarding the arts and media dean question - there were several groupings of departments initially proposed and there was discussion of Anne Burdick heading one of the groups which included her department. She declined, then a new department grouping was implemented, and the arts & media group was left without a dean.

Bambi said...


I hope that you DO understand why I am asking about.

In the past , it has not been uncommon for the administration to "reach out" to certain squeaky wheels. They never thik that they are being "played", but they really are. Often times, they are so honored to be selected, that they have a hard time sticking to the goal.

This had long been the trouble with the various installations of "student government" that have been created over the years. Those selected to lead its various incarnations tend to feel rather special about being chosen and have a hard time saying what needs to be said.

I'm not accusing you of "going soft", but I do want to know if there is seperate dialogue going on. I think it is only prudent for us to know.

thewallshaveeyes said...

Alternate Perspective,

You ask why I would question you motives and you claim that you are not divisive.

Your own words are below. These do not seem like agenda-less posts to me. Perhaps I misunderstand you. I understand that you have a position - not a problem. But don’t suggest that I am attacking you if I disagree with your very polarizing statements that clearly have a motive.

You wrote:

June 25, 2008 2:57 PM

June 25, 2008 10:16 PM:
-That the board behaved badly. They didn’t do any research.
-Questioned why any new president or provost would step into this mess.
-That we were all played.
-This was at heart a power struggle between two men.

Bambi said...

Just curious, being that I am no longer a student, who are these student members of the task forces? What is their connection to "this" stuff? Any? How were they selected? Randomly?

Future of Art Center said...

To Bambi, alternate perspective, alternate energy, thewallshaveeyes, JR, thirdgen89, RIP, and anyone else. I've created a "wonks" area on FOAC for the discussion of inside politics. In particular, I hope this will help provide a venue for those of us interested in the gory details, and also separate out some of the detailed insider discussions to make other parts of the FOAC site more accessible to the more general community. Not everyone is following every political detail, and they are more interested in the issues and proposals for the future. Here's the area:

Inside politics discussion

Or scroll down a bit on the main page.

Captain, my captain said...

Evidently, there are a number of old industrial design alumni actively pressuring the board of trustees to bring Nate Young back. I have to agree with the views of “Alternate Perspective,” that it would be an real crime to bring Nate Young back. Though Art Center has a world renowned Transportation Design program, the school is so much more than just about cars and industrial design. Nate, however, is an unrepentant, corporate car guy, with his clever graphic Powerpoint presentations, complete with colorful business pie charts, that outline his shortsighted vision for Art Center (I saw his “Future of Art Center” show in the auditorium last year, it may still be online). Mr. Young however, has no awareness, interest or understanding of art today, and in his tenure as Chief Academic Officer, he consistently shortchanged the chairs, faculty and students in the Arts & Media Group. They had no dean and no representation in the Education Committee, and were consistently not included in setting Art Center priorities. His vision is too narrow for Art Center!

Why am I not surprised to hear that Nate Young was planning to eliminate fine art from Art Center. If this were to happen Art Center would be just another trade school. Removing the arts from Art Center misses the point that the most innovative designers working in the fields of graphics, digital media, illustration, film and photography desire to be around challenges fine art represents to push and stimulate their own work. I am afraid that without a respectable art program, Art Center would only attract conservative and timid students. Folding the fine art programs into Photography and Illustration, as was Nate’s intention, would have no credibility in the big picture.

In the 21st century the boundaries in the applied arts and fine arts are dissolving - from cutting edge architecture to imaginative media design, from edgy fashion to sculptural furniture design, and certainly in the new photography, film and illustration work, the landscape of creativity is changing. Art Center must not return to Nate’s conservative thinking, Art Center needs someone fresh. We want a new worldly and aware CAO, someone that can help inspire the school into the future.

Aside: as the discussion continues over the governmental insistence to remove arts programming from public schools (noting the ill effects it has on improving creativity thinking in younger minds), we have before us a proposed model of an arts college seeking to remove the arts programming from its core identity. What does this suggest to students looking to become the brightest and most talented creative minds in the world? What is the message here?

Bambi said...

I always knew those trans guys were up to something in the spraybooth.

Alternate Energy said...

Captain said:

Why am I not surprised to hear that Nate Young was planning to eliminate fine art from Art Center.

Those rumors were also around when Don Kubly and David Brown were president. It's an old old paranoia, meant to bias the discussion but without any factual backup.

Please cite any verifiable evidence that Nate was going to eliminate Fine Art, if you are going to expect us to take such an accusation seriously.

This will never happen, but also It is unlikely we are going to find any CAO who meets the absolute ideal of every constituent. The last I looked, the Arts & Media group seemed to be doing OK. Didn't Laurence Dreiband and Ann Field take student groups to Europe last year? And Jeremy G-R has a nice fat budget for his handful of students.

Ph said...

Arts and Media was not under-represented. Nate acted as their Dean until he could get a suitable replacement. He met with the chairs on a weekly basis and saw students within those departments, who needed to speak with a Dean.

I'm not saying that Art Center should hire him back or that he would even want to come back, but people on this board who are attacking him and questioning his motives are way off. I saw him make many tough decisions, and with each one of them, he considered the well-being of Art Center first.

Fifth Way said...

What tough decisions did Nate Young make during his five years? He was restructuring the upper leadership of education, but it looks like he only added more people to the top. Perhaps the idea was to rid of some of the layers eventually, but more were added. It looks like he didn't say no or make the tough decisions, but maybe some of us can't see it. Please clarify.

Also, what were his "education initiativies"? That's one department he created. I know they organized the sustainability conferences, but what else?

Alternate Energy said...

fifth way said:
It looks like he didn't say no or make the tough decisions, but maybe some of us can't see it. Please clarify.

Clarification is the burden of those making the accusation, Fifth Way. This sounds awfully familiar, the "Nate couldn't say no" charge. It been wielded for several weeks without any specificity, and was part of the Koshalek entourage's spin in the weeks leading up to the Board vote.

I think the department chairs' reaction at having to report to deans is indication enough of Nate's willingness to make tough decisions. He knew it would be unpopular.

About saying "no," are you referring to budget and being over? Education was not over budget in 2007 as RK claimed -- another one of his lies. The trustees are in possession of the real numbers.

Maybe RK is still working the boards, hoping to discredit Nate, rewrite history, play the department chairs like a fiddle, and be the education president for a few months -- then pick up the necessary votes on the Board to overturn their decision...

Mr. Perspective said...

Dear Captain & Alternative Perspectives--

A few thoughts, observations and additional perspectives to consider: Have you ever seen where having both the #1 and #2 position in a school or business empty is a wise or effective strategy. You seem to support leaving these open for a considerable period of time. (keep an eye on Richards travel schedule for instance. Don't be surprised if some rather long vacations all of a sudden happen. He is technically here, but fading out already.) This is dangerous and brings with it much unforeseen risk.

Mr. Young put in place a diverse leadership group. Which included more than the commonly referred to Deans, like Niki Hafermaas and Britenberg. Fred Fehlau became the Dean of Academic Affairs(Fine Art Alumni I believe) and Tracy Tambascia the Dean of Students following an open search. And Wendy A helped lead the other open Dean position in the interim.

A few weeks ago Richard told everyone that Mr. Young and he were not allowed to talk about his departure. Thus that is why he has not been able to voice his side of any story. Maybe that will change following the boards decision last week? Maybe if you want open dialogue with as many facts on the table as possible you will ask that this ban be lifted. Then we all could hear why he left and we all could make up our own minds.

Someone above mentioned that the coup to get rid of Richard and bring back Mr. Young was lead by Trans. A quick look at the nearly 1500 signatures clearly shows a diverse group of Alumni signing it. Do the math. It wasn't just the Trans alumni that helped make change. Students from many different majors voiced strong concerns.

Organizations need leadership, especially in times of crisis. If you can find someone who will step in quickly, understand this mess, and get everyone on board going in one direction. Please do so. But if you just like having freedom and no accountability like deciding your own travel schedules. Well. Look where it got Richard. This place needs leadership. When all is peaceful and happy you can get by for a while without a strong leader. When difficult decisions need to get made, budgets needs to be built and met, difficult issues that cross more than one major are thrust upon the school, then what? That is when you need a structure with good leadership. Right now we don't have much of either.

Alternate Perspective said...


You still didn't answer my question:

For all of us, I want to know--what is your evidence that the board did their research? Did they talk to Faculty? Department Chairs? Students? Did they set foot on campus, perform interviews, sit in on classes, talk to alumni, attend events, conduct surveys? How, exactly, did they conduct their research?

Captain, my captain said...

Dearest Alt Energy,
No romance or rumor here. For clarification ask the department chairs who met with Nate prior to his departure. Better yet, if for some reason Nate is brought back to interview, ask him directly about his intentions. Just ask Nate. The previous restructuring of 2007 was abruptly thrown on the school with little notice to anyone. Please, there is no paranoia, we all just want clarity, to make help the students flourish, correct?

As for Mr Perspective,
I would not suggest leaving the two top positions of the school vacant, but prefer fresh leadership who understands the need for transparency and can grasp the simply fact that educational institutions can be much stronger when students, faculty, and all chairs are brought into the "design" process early. Both R and N were below average in grasping this point.

Peace Out

Ophelia Chong said...


Of the ones calling for Nate Young back, how many are on campus teaching or on staff or a student?

Of those calling for Nate Young to return, have you spoken to all faculty, staff and most important, the Students? In the largest major, Illustration, is the curriculum meeting their needs?

I signed the petition for Education, not to bring Nate Young back. No where on that petition is Nate mentioned.


Alternate Perspective said...

Mr. P., things are not as you say simply because you say them. There are bloggers here telling you that Nate is a divisive force. Perhaps you are one of his select few? Perhaps an old buddy from long ago? Perhaps you work in his area of design? My guess is that you're not from the arts and culture world or you would understand the way that he shined on half of the school.

We need a clean slate. We need to catch our breath, take 18 months, and find the right people for the jobs.

Bambi said...

I think what we're learing here is that a power struggle was afoot at the upper echelon. The power struggle may be continuing within the board, as it is really odd for a "non-renewal" to be followed by 18 months of continued tenure.

My suspicion is that while the board's statement my have indicated a "we've decided not to renew the contract", it may be that the matter is merely "tabled" for now. If Richard did not have hope that the board would change their minds, he would not be wanting to stay for 18 months. Usually a non-renewal means a vote of no-confidence, but I'm guessing that they had a split decision happen.

In other words, quit celebrating. It is not over yet. I think that we have a board-level power struggle happening right now. A slight majority saying "no" and a significant minority wantin Richard to stay on. Look now for the board to have a nasty fight. Several members will either resign or be voted off by the majority.

People, keep the pressure up. Make your voice heard.

Ophelia Chong said...

Hi bambi,

To be clear, it is 18 months. There is already movement to search for a new president. :O)

What we need to do now is get the ball rolling on the issues agreed on by the board.


Bambi said...

I want to point something else out in regards to the "Art Center Forum"

While it may appear to be transparent and accepting of all questions, this has not been the case. They are being very deliberate with which questions they allow to appear on-screen. Numerous comments awaiting moderation have vanished (usually the toughest questions).

I know they want people to think that a new era of transparency is coming, but I think people should know that the board is heavily censored. The number of questions actually seen by all is far less than the numbers actually submitted.

Bambi said...


What contact has Koshalek (and members of the board or administration) had with you in the past two weeks? What was the nature of the contact?

I only ask, because you have often tried to nudge myself and others into "positive thought" when we question what is actually going on at board-level. I just want to understand what Koshalek thinks you are doing for him.

I have every right to be distrustful of the outcome, as I have witnessed board-level politics at Art Center before. They are nasty. Look at the website listing of their current and past membership. Curiously missing from the roles of "emeritus" members are significant names such as Virginia Adams (Tink's wife). She was purged during a power struggle many years ago.

Bambi said...

"What we need to do now is get the ball rolling on the issues agreed on by the board. "

Like what issues? "Task forces" filled with cronies and political insiders?

Bambi said...

Right on Pierre Picot:

"# 1,489:
11:19 pm PDT, Jun 26, Pierre Picot, California
As a former faculty member in the Fine Art department and ex "bad cop" co-chair of the Faculty Council from 2003 to mid 2006, let me say that you have my full support in your attempt at prioritizing education over the numerous frivolous activities which the board-supported current administration has defined as its mantra. No matter what transpires in the next few months and after Richard Koshalek's departure in 2009 (or earlier, depending on the massive Golden Parachute which the Board might be willing to offer) it will be the Board which decides any "new" direction the School will take. Theirs is a territory which is not open to flux and change ... the ship will sail according to a very fixed course set by a very savvy club, and they, my friends, are not like you nor I ... regardless, "asper ad astra" (aspire to the stars)!"

Ophelia Chong said...

I only hold myself accountable for my actions. I have a positive nature, and that is how I look at life. If I ask anyone to be more positive on this blog is because it works better than going into a situation with a negative attitude.

Plus commenting on this blog is only that. Comments. Until you take action, it is just text entered into a blank field.

I have already made steps to reach out to make changes on my own. Now is the time for you all to do the same.

I do not want to doom myself by performing Sisyphean tasks, therefore I act with my voice and my name.

Ophelia Chong

Bambi said...


I know you are all about the positive. I think that's great.

FOAC mentioned in a post that Richard Koshalek had reached out and initiated contact with you in recent days. If you say that you always act as your own person, hey, I'll accept that. But I'd really like to know what Richard has asked of you. He obviously reached out for a reason.

Ophelia Chong said...

The students took the power of this blog to write the petition, to stage a silent protest, to meet with John Puerner, and to send out hard copies of the petition.

That is what positive action is.


Ophelia Chong said...

As for any conversation I had with anyone, that is between me and them. I hold myself accountable to any confidences given to me.


Alternate Energy said...

Alt Persp said:
There are bloggers here telling you that Nate is a divisive force. Perhaps you are one of his select few?

The fact is, there are only a select few debating here now anyway -- on both sides of the issue. The Board's decision on RK's contract has sent most students back to class, faculty back to teaching, and alums to their careers.

I suspect the Board will proceed based on what they consider to be the best course for unifying the college and moving toward a positive education-first future, regardless of the discussion here.

Certain Chairs (not all), in their college-be-damned crusade against Nate's return, are being short-sighted, political, and self-serving, just as they were when they tried to get the trustees to endorse Koshalek's priorities and renew his contract -- while the rest of the community was standing up and calling for the opposite.

To their credit, the trustees ignored the Chairs' June 9 letter of support for RK and made their decision based on what is best for the college. Had they not, we would be looking at five more years of ripoff and misplaced priorities.

Bambi said...

Those few words speak volumes. Unfortunately.

Bambi said...

Alternate Energy:

So let me ask you this:

Do you think that we saw a "hail mary" pass thrown by certain deans after their backer had resigned?

I suppose I can see how money (and job security) may have motivated a lot of the different behaviors we have witnessed. Pat Oliver wants to remain relevant, so she has to save the Gehry project and starts a petition. Ogden and crew were hired and backed by Young, and probably were privvy to the reasons behind his departure. Perhaps that insider knowledge explains their behavior.

What students, faculty and alumni should notice, is that money, security and power are at stake. Certain people who sit on the bridge have a VERY good gig going for themselves, and they want to keep it that way.

Other recent revelations tell me that this leadership issue is far from solved. The fight has just begun.

As students, faculty and alumni, we should all remain very interested in the situation. Keep up the fight and always stick to what is the right thing to do.

Future of Art Center said...

We've put up a new post where people can comment on what the characteristics of a new President and Provost/CAO should be. A good way to look to the future.

Fifth Way said...

John Puerner signed the petition!

# 1,477:
7:21 am PDT, Jun 25, John Puerner, California
Statement from John Puerner June 24, 2008 On behalf of the College’s Board of Trustees, I want to bring you up to date on some important matters at Art Center. Over the last few weeks, the Board received considerable input in the form of letters, petitions and emails voicing concern and comment on various subjects. First and foremost, the Board and administration remain firmly committed to continuing the high quality of education that Art Center is known for worldwide. It has always been our most important priority. As trustees, our primary responsibilities are to provide governance and oversight as we work closely with the administration in charting a course for the future. A key role of governance is to provide for the proper leadership and organizational structure to best lead the College. Over the last nine years, Richard Koshalek has exhibited dynamic and original leadership of Art Center, and we look forward to and support his continuing leadership. His efforts have been of great value to the College, the communities it serves, and we are very thankful for his contributions, which include the following: Increasing the College’s scholarship endowment from $16 million in 1999 to $43 million, resulting in $7 million in scholarships in 2008; Opening South Campus as the home of Public Programs and Graduate Education, with recognition as the first LEED-certified green building in the City of Pasadena; Expanding Graduate Education with new advances in technology for Graduate Media Design studios at South Campus; Launching the Art Center Design Conferences and Designmatters, positioning Art Center as an advocate for the importance of design and the value of creative contributions to various fields. Importantly, leadership must continue to evolve to meet future challenges. Therefore, the Board has decided to start the search for a new president. Our search will be done in a deliberate manner to ensure we select the best possible person to carry on the important educational mission of Art Center. This search may take some time, and our objective is to select a new president by the end of next year. As a first step, we will be forming a search committee to lead this process. Of all of the input received, I want to respond directly to three concerns thoughtfully communicated in a letter from the Art Center Student Government. These concerns focused on improving the liaison between the Board and students, increasing the funding available for tuition assistance, and improving the facilities that support education at the College. The Board and the administration believe that our student body is the most important constituency we serve, and we can benefit greatly from their input as we work with the administration on short and long term initiatives. Therefore, the governance committee of the Board will undertake a study to determine how the relationship between the student body and the Board can be expanded and strengthened. We will communicate our recommendations as soon as possible. During this time of year, we begin the financial planning for the coming year. Key steps in the process are determining tuition rates, financial assistance and scholarship funding. To provide the quality of education expected, we need to set tuition and fees accordingly. However, we also know that affordability is a very important factor in enrolling and retaining the right numbers of high potential students we desire in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Importantly, Art Center’s tuition currently falls in the middle of colleges it competes with. As we move through the budget review with the administration for 2009, we will see what can be done to provide more financial support to students. This will take some time due to the complexity of the process. Significant concerns have also been expressed about the balance between investment in current facilities, future projects and near-term educational needs. The leadership of the College understands that it is very important to create the right environment and technology to support high quality education. One project in particular, the Design Research Center (DRC), has received the most comment. As Richard has discussed in various forums, expanding the College’s mission into more research and development can provide many new possibilities for students and faculty. This is a possibility that the Board generally supports. However, there may be some misunderstanding about the status of this project. Approval to construct the DRC has not been requested nor given. Last fall, the Board did approve an initial phase to do detailed design for cost estimating and fundraising efforts. Approval of this first phase was contingent on putting appropriate funding in place. To date, funding has not been obtained under acceptable terms, and as a result the design phase has not gone forward. The administration is currently developing a number of other projects for review in our capital planning. These include investments and maintenance of the Hillside Campus, and continued renovation of the South Campus to house more Graduate Programs. All of these projects, including the DRC, are now being reevaluated and reprioritized by the facilities and finance committees of the Board. Projects will be selected and approved based on a ranking of specific needs, and the availability of funding. In addition, the Board fully supports the new taskforce that Richard recently formed to plan the technology needs of Art Center. We look forward to their observations and recommendations. Lastly, I want to reiterate the Board’s collective commitment to the Art Center community. All of us serve as volunteers and come from varying backgrounds. Some trustees are alumni, some have children who attended the College, some are professional designers, some have experience in higher education and the arts, some have experience leading large corporate concerns—but the one thing we all share is a deep affection and respect for the College. We look forward to continuing the conversation and we encourage you to reference the Community Forum Web site for updated information going forward. John Puerner Chairman of the Board of Trustees Art Center College of Design

Mr. Perspective said...

Bambi, you mentioned the task forces and how they might move forward. Actually I think they are about to stop. Except for the IT task force. In John Puerner's message, the board actually only endorsed the IT task force, and never mentions any support for the others. I expect the board will come out shortly and redefine all of them. You are right, they are full of Richard's had picked supporters. So it doesn't make sense that they are the ones to lead Art Center anywhere.

Ophelia. I don't mean to suggest anything more than I think Nathan Young would be worth considering. You are right, the petition did not suggest that he was to be the replacement for RK. His old job my be the safe starting point. If we were back at that level of chatter when he was in place, we would be far ahead of where we are today. The board must consider whether to roll the dice and gamble on an unknown, along with the risk of having no leadership in place for 12 to 18 months. If you have seen examples where waiting 12-18 months and taking the gamble that an unknown is better than what we know, then great. We all would benefit from that information.

Someone asked if I knew Mr. Young. Yes. I have seen and heard how he operates and heard many more good stories than bad. (It would not make sense to comment about or recommend someone I have never seen or met.) Most of the bad I have heard comes from people that stand to gain something by keeping him out. I think what he did to call attention to RK's divisive and seriously disruptive ways is worthy of note. Without it RK would be continuing his expensive power-trips and mis-direction. The board benefitted by having Mr. Young bringing attention to these issues. I am wide open to suggestions or anyone putting better candidates forward. Please do. Waiting for so long to fill two key leadership positions is most risky. I am confused why this doesn't bother more people? No business or school runs like that.

Jason said...

Has everyone seen this?

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The Art Center College of Design has filed an application for a Master Development Plan with the City to allow for proposed new development at the campus located at 1700 Lida Street in the Linda Vista district of the City. The Art Center College of Design Master Development Plan will represent regulations that will cover all aspects of development with the campus boundaries. The Master Development Plan would be implemented in three phases over 25 years and proposes:

* Preservation of 145 acres of natural open space;
* Increasing landscaped open space from 167,000 square feet to 190,000 square feet;
* Increasing building area from 242,512 square feet to 330,786 square feet;
* Increasing student enrollment.
* Increasing faculty from 350 to 360.

o Phase 1

§ Construction of Sinclair Pavilion (completed in 2001).

o Phase 2

§ Construction of the Design Research Center (DRC) at 48,183 square feet;

§ Creation of new outdoor plazas that will serve as venues for formal and informal meetings and events;

§ Increasing on-site parking from 914 to 1,258 vehicle spaces with the construction of a new five-level parking structure;

§ Construction of 15,145 square feet of additional operations and maintenance facilities;

§ Removal of temporary classrooms made redundant by completion of DRC;

§ Construction of a 42,226 square foot, two-level addition to Tyler Annex;

§ Increasing student enrollment from 1,445 to 1,900.

o Phase 3

§ Renovation and remodeling of the Ellwood Building;

The height of new structures will range from approximately 52-feet for the expansion of the Tyler Addition to approximately 98-feet to the top of the glazed central atrium of the Design Research Center. Except for the atrium, the height for the DRC is a maximum of 60 feet or five stories. The new parking structure will be approximately 44-feet in height.

Subsequent entitlements required to implement the Master Development Plan include:


Design Review for structures over 5,000 square feet (Design Research Center, Tyler Annex addition, and Parking Structure).

* Five-year Review of Master Development Plan on a quinquennial basis.
* Conditional Use Permits for minor projects not included in the scope of proposed development for the Master Development Plan.

Plein Air said...

Looks to me like we've been betrayed. This certainly doesn't seem to conform with John Puerner's statements earlier in the week.

Sounds like the trustees have made up their mind about education-first and have decided to go with buildings-first.

Alternate Perspective said...

Alternate Energy wrote:
Certain Chairs (not all), in their college-be-damned crusade against Nate's return, are being short-sighted, political, and self-serving,

That’s a rich accusation coming from someone who has participated in publicly lambasting the quality of education on campus, instilling fear in students and alumni and scaring away new applicants. The anti-Koshalek campaign supplied only a small group of individuals to the press in order to discredit the portfolios coming out of this school in a slash-and-burn strategy to further their agenda. (I don’t disagree with aspects of the agenda—more scholarship, education first, stop the conference madness, etc., but I COMPLETELY disagree with the means.) The L.A. Times—and anyone for that matter—failed to notice that the previous week’s Calendar section had a HUGE portrait of Jorge Pardo on the cover, talking about his interesting practice and his recent work with LACMA (evidence of a truly interesting hybrid of art and design--the result of his time at Art Center). Every department on campus has many different success stories—more successes than not. It breaks my heart that the impetus to tear down Koshalek inspired members of our own community to publicly attack itself!!!!! How short-sighted is that?!

Of course this raises the issue of what might have been a better way to get the Board’s attention? I’m a cynic in that regard. I believe that getting the Board to listen and giving a broader range of stakeholders a voice in all of this is FANTASTIC—much needed. But I’m with Bambi and Pierre Picot here. This Board isn’t really listening. They operate in an entirely different sphere and this has been in the works for months. Puerner’s statements are as weak and ambiguous as they come.

In the interest of healing the damage, it's imperative that we question Nate's long-term vision and whether or not it was right for the school--that's only healthy and necessary. A search allows for the airing of many of the issues and the opportunity for many different constituencies to weigh in. If Nate was not respectful to the non-design majors, that needs to be taken into consideration. Any thoughtful discussion of his return necessitates that we consider it from all sides. (you know where I stand on it)

I want to hear from two people who might help give some perspective on this: Andy Ogden and Anne Burdick. Andy seems to be a good buddy of Nate and he can answer whether or not there was a plan to get rid of undergrad Fine Art. If there were discussions of this sort, you can guarantee that he was there. I also want to know why Anne Burdick would decline a dean position if what FOAC and jr says is true and it was in fact offered to her.

Plein Air said...

I really don't get this -- on June 25 trustee president John Puerner signs the petition (#1477) that calls for an "immediate halt to the current Art Center Master Development Plan which includes the Gehry designed DRC," then the trustees issue an announcement the very same day, June 25, that they are going to "move full speed ahead" on the Master Plan.

Maybe Puerner didn't sign the petition and someone else signed his name to it.

Maybe Iris Gelt is being over-zealous in her habit of spinning Koshalek happy-faces, and has taken it upon herself to make an insignificant zoning issue appear as if it were a board endorsement and decision regarding the DRC. If that's the case, she ought to be fired. Last thing we need is a PR person at war with the will of the board and working against the overwhelming sentiment of the Art Center community.

If it's not a case of overblown PR, then what the hell is going on?

Thank you, by the way, to FOAC for drawing attention to this on your site,

AJ said...

This newest announcement on the official Forum site is unbelievable. When I read it here, I thought it was a joke...then I saw it on the ACCD sanctioned forum. Either our Board is playing with us, or more likely, our 22 member PR department is working overtime to rebuild RK's image. I hope that John Puerner will clarify which direction the Board is taking.

On the other hand, perhaps this latest PR folly will help the Board to see how unprofessional and pathetic the current administration really is!

Alternate Energy said...

In a letter to the editor in this morning's Pasadena Star News, Erica Clark makes certain claims "for the sake of accuracy and fairness" about the Serious Play conference.

For example, she says that "hundreds of students and faculty participated," and that the event was "planned and implemented" by staff and volunteers.

She also claims that "more than 40 corporate and individual donors have offered support for scholarships, internships and studio/classroom projects at Art Center," and that the conference "generated extra revenue that is now being allocated directly to educational projects."

Can anyone here give perspective on these claims? Are they in fact accurate and fair?

Of course there's nothing about the fact that students had to pay several hundred dollars to attend, that the conference took place over break when students are gone, or that past conferences have lost huge amounts of money covered by tuition.

Given Iris Gelt's recent spin press release on the Master Plan, it appears the Koshalek admins are mounting a PR rehabilitation initiative. If what they say is true, then fine. If not, if it is spin and manipulation, then we need to counter it everywhere.

Public opinion counts, and Koshalek may well be thinking he can be the come-back kid and persuade the board to change its mind, because protestors will give up or become tired of correcting his misinformation. We need to continue to be diligent.

Mr. Perspective said...

There is no way it can be fair and accurate if it comes from Koshalik's team. Mrs. Clark just can't help herself but talk this way, those claims may have been goals but the evidence will be hard to find or fabricate. Maybe a few things came from it but my guess is that most of the opportunities were already in play before this mega event and the real kicker came from the quality of the students/faculty work, not the paid entertainers. Can anyone list the major outcomes from the previous two Des Conf's? Any classes, sponsorships, scholarships that are now in place as a result? What if those millions of dollars were spent on something else?

Ophelia Chong said...

Alternate Energy,

I would also like to know the depth of the "more than 40 corporate and individual donors have offered support for scholarships, internships and studio/classroom projects at Art Center," and that the conference "generated extra revenue that is now being allocated directly to educational projects."

Were they just inquires? Were they concrete promises? And what extra generated revenue is going to what projects? Can we see where that revenue is going? How much did the conference cost? And how much of it was sponsored? And what did it cost the school to raise that sponsorship?

And I asked a student who was a volunteer at the event about the "hundreds of students and faculty" and he said that was incorrect. If you want to prove him wrong, then show us the numbers.

This is all spin until we see actual numbers and actual educational projects.


Nathan said...

Ophelia and Alternate Energy:

I received a list of the 40 Corporations and Individual donors from Iris Gelt at the ACSG meeting with Koshalek and group May 30. I was instructed not to release this though, and so I won't. One reason for this, is that these companies have not committed yet.

I will say two things from this. I was given the list after asking for a metric analysis of the payback from these conferences. Of which I was told that would be easy to do, though it has not happened yet. Maybe I need to write a direct email to Erica Clark and Iris Gelt to remind them of my question, as they were the ones who said it would be easy to answer.

About the list itself, without naming specifics, I will say it is 95% filled with companies and names that (I believe) knew about Art Center previous to the conference. I know many of them have already employed Art Center grads or done work with the school. This is an important aspect to the list, because one benefit the conference has been said to have is opening up Art Center to the world beyond its traditional scope. I can see one name on the list that I had introduced the party to an Art Center person at an IDSA conference.

As it currently sits, one value that the Art Center Conference has been said to have, is not clear at best. Another reason to go back to metrical analysis (in dollars equivalents) of past conferences.

Not do downplay the names on the list, I hope they all do contribute to Art Center in some way.

Ophelia Chong said...

Thank you Nathan for clarifying the sponsor/scholarship/intern list.

The greatest benefit ACCD has is its students and alumni. They are the ambassadors for the college.

We go out into the world with our portfolios and we are the face of ACCD.

Most (all) clients and employers will look at your portfolio first. Your educational background second. It is the strength of your work that will get you hired.

So for that to happen we have to commit ourselves to the education of the ACCD student. If it is not the best, no conference or international initiative will get that grad hired.

You can spin the conferences as the window to the world for ACCD, but if you divert all your energy and resources to them and ignore what is happening to the quality of the education then it is nothing more than the Emperor has no Clothes.


Ophelia Chong said...

"Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation." Oscar Wilde

thewallshaveeyes said...

FOAC, Ophelia and others,
I appreciate all the work that has gone into making the blog at
But, I want you to be aware that you have lost contact and continuity with many activist alumni, staff, and students.

On the FOAC blog The segmentation of the conversation into many topics , split from Nathan's original post has dropped a large portion of the audience. What used to take 2-3 minutes to check for updates now takes 15-20. My own informal survey indicates that about 3/4 of the people that were participating or at least reading either don't visit FOAC or don't know what threads to review when they get here.

We have divided ourselves across Nathan’s blog, the petition (which now has 1500 signatures), The Art Center Forum, and FOAC. FOAC is designed for advanced users not casual participants. Where would you suggest we focus our attention? Perhaps a top line general conversation topic on FOAC could help. Or lets return to making Nathan’s blog the central communication point.

From my perspective the Education First movement is losing ground VERY quickly. The hardest part of this movement is still coming. We need to keep the activist community connected.

Ophelia Chong said...

The FOAC is not one long thread. We have broken it up into topics so that we can have relevant comments to the matter discussed. Rather than having to read through dozens of comments to get filter out topics, you can now choose what to comment on.

And we have been as active as before and will be for the next 18 months.

The students are entering the final half of their summer term. They have to concentrate on their studies. Myself and others will be there to take up the slack.

The best way you can participate is to write letters, make phone calls, and be present.


Jason said...

The wallshaveeyes has good point there is not a umbrella statement of purpose which the petition had served.

I can say with some certainty that it is not clear what the next goal is from the students point of view. Some of the concerns brought to the board by the student government have been addressed. I have been told from several sources that the the DRC is at a 100% stand still and all fund raising efforts are directed at current scholarships and the endowment.

I think we need a common goal to focus on again. By reading through the posts and petition we can find what people care about the most. I think that work is almost already done but a summary and quantitative display of most relevant issues information would make persuasion for change stronger.

I would suggest pushing for greater alumni representation on the board. If the board actions in the past has been to primarily to vote to raise tuition as Richard stated then they are severely disconnected from the needs todays students.

Second is the proportion of administrative staff to students issue which is a problem at the root. I think this is why a decrease in enrollment of 5% has become such a severe issue.

Just throwing ideas out the perhaps we can setup a online survey to go out to the alumni to determine which issues should will have the most impact

There are many issues that are important so this will be difficult to focus on a few.

Thanks for reading,
Jason Nicholas Hill

P.S. I've heard that Jason C. Hill the faculty has been getting phone calls regarding his posts on the blog. I would just like to mention that I am a current student and I apologize for the confusion.

Alternate Perspective said...

wallshaveyes said:

From my perspective the Education First movement is losing ground VERY quickly.

The realization has set in that there is no single community of activists. There are participants with different agendas and levels of interest and the "fragmentation" is representative of the healthy diversity of the Art Center community, past and present.

I like what Jason says about taking stock of the issues--which have been resolved, which still need work. Be realistic about the amount of change you can expect in the next 18 months.

I think the students should work on a statement to present to any new candidate for President or Provost--a sort of Students' Bill of Rights. This needs to be crafted by reps from all majors and would be a great project for the ACSG.

If alumni are to be given a voice, the sample of alumni needs to be representative of all majors and all time periods. Remember, there is no single, unified, Art Center that has ever existed.

Jason said...

Does anyone know many board members have resigned during Richard's time and particularly since the recent press.

Mr. Kobe is leading the education task force has been a strong supporter of Dr. Koshalek from the very begining. Correct? Is there anyone n the education task force who signed the Education First Petition? Has he displayed objectivity in the past? According to Richard Koshalek's statement Tuesday if he is a trustee he only voted to raise tuition over the years.

My vote is for a Student, Faculty and Alumni Bill of Rights and hire an outside Consultant to come in and examine the ledger over the last nine years.

Alternate Energy said...

There have been a numbr of board members leave in the last couple years -- Dallas Price, Harry Hathaway, Carol Henry, to name just a few. Dean Scarborough, CEO of Avery-Dennison, is reported to have resigned from the Art Center board yesterday (July 2).

Tim Kobe has been a Koshalek-supporter all along. Ray Hemann, who was replaced by Kobe after the June 19 board meeting as head of the education committee, is a staunch education-first trustee.

No, not a single member of the educational task force joined 1500 students, faculty, staff, and alumni in signing the Art Center education-first petition.

Yes, an outside audit is needed -- there is much more to be revealed...

Alternate Perspective said...

Ray Hemann may have been a "staunch supporter" of "Education First" petition however his background is as an engineer with some kind of military affiliation. He doesn't know the first thing about design education. He's a retiree! Tim Kobe, however, is a world-renowned designer--with a thriving practice--a graduate of Art Center, and designer of Apple Stores and other fantastic projects worldwide. He not only knows design and education, he knows Art Center firsthand--a request of everyone these days!

Alternate Perspective said...

Hey FOAC--
Could you start a student bill of rights section on your site so that students can start the writing?

The pedagogue in me also thinks this would be a great lesson in civics--a great chance to learn firsthand about consensus-building and compromise. Blog bullying might get people's attention but it's the real on-the-ground, face-to-face wrangling between a wide range of perspectives that is the true test of any activist's ability to work in the real world. It requires a deep commitment to finding common ground.

Ophelia Chong said...

Alternate Perspective

I love the idea of a Student's Bill of Rights

Just like the one proposed for airline passengers.


Jason said...

The faculty needs a bill of rights the most. Most of them are waiting quietly to see what happens next. This has gone on for years.

We know what happens to those who speak up. If what Rachael said at the student session was too much then if I was faculty I would not even make eye contact with any one who signed a petition. ;)

I just want to say Thanks again to those who signed the petition in support of the education first.

I'm VERY disappointed that I am not seeing any of their names on the task forces. Although considering the tone of the chairmans statement I'm not sure if their "suggestions and observations" will be valued by the board.

Student Bill of Rightsthoughts:

How about a right to know that education budgets will be scaled based on student enrollment. Yesterday I heard that education budgets are being cut which makes sense because enrollment is down and financially this place is unstable. But why does administration have immunity their elaborate bureaucracy has created this weak revenue model they should pay the price not us.

I would demand the education budget will be a exact percentage of my tuition dollars some number well over 60%.

We should get a itemized breakdown of how our money is spent every one hundred and forty four thousand dollars of it.

A tuition dollar to education contract should be the very first line of a Student bill of Rights period.

After that give me teachers that care about the success of their students and I will be happy.

Mr. Perspective said...

Board members will rarely ever sign a petition such as the Education First petition. They do not need too. They are the ones who end up voting on such issues and having individual board members sign something publicly a head of time would bias the open debate they need to have as a board. So it is not unusual for them to note vote publicly like this.

If Dean Scarborough did in fact resign, it was likely because he was scared of some potential consequences, financial? combative environment?, of being on the Art Center board. I believe he was the newest member, and likely lured in by Mr. Koshalek via lots of promises etc. Then after arriving, all he ever participates in is scandal ridden discussions, financial audits, high energy debates, yelling by R K over the losing of the vote etc. No fun, and not worth the risk to his publicly traded company. Must unfortunate as he/Avery is a nice corporate citizen of Pasadena, his company has sponsored many projects/internships, has pledged millions of dollars to Art Center.(See recent announcements by the Art Center PR group.) Hopefully Mr. Koshalek's power hungry tactics and manipulation of the board has not just now chased even more money away.

Jason said...

My impression is that our planning office is obsessed with architecture disguised as facilities. All of their projects have and will increase maintenance costs and only generate revenue from digging in students pockets.

What I don't get is that no one is questioning their reasons for building the student housing. They have yet to prove that they understands students needs with their building projects. The school is on the verge of turning over their second most valuable piece of terrain after the hillside campus to a developer to build new loft style apts. The developer handles all the maintenance cost for the first 20+ years and during that time the students will be borrowing money to pay for that too.

The students who really need student housing do not rent newly constructed loft style apts. This is essentially subsidizing students with their own money.

That land could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the endowment if utilized correctly over the next fifty years.

Alternate Perspective said...


You should be careful about using the petition as some kind of loyalty oath. There are many reasons why faculty, staff, students, and alumni who are dedicated to the school and education might not have signed. I think it's a dangerous mistake to assume that the signers hold some kind of special knowledge or care for the school that others don't.

Students and faculty have representation on the Education Task Force. If you have any questions or concerns that you'd like raised in the Task Force, you should talk to your representative. I think you're a student... if so, Jill from ACSG is on the Education Task Force and she's as outspoken as they come. Talk to her if you wish to have her raise specific issues on your behalf. You can also talk to your Department Chair. There are 6 Chairs/Directors out of about 14 or so... There is broad representation for all areas of art and design. Unlike previous configurations (deans), all areas of the school are well represented.

I haven't seen a public listing of who is on the other task forces.

Alternate Perspective said...

Mr. Perspective,

Desperate times call for desperate measures, eh? Your ability and willingness to throw speculation and hearsay around in public is awe-inspiring. The board voted--or did you miss that part? It's time now for the hard work of reconstruction.

Alternate Perspective said...

From the New York Times:

In the United States, July 4 is about a great idea in the Declaration of Independence — its vision of liberty and freedom, equality and self-government. The Continental Congress gave Thomas Jefferson a difficult task: frame a vision of liberty and freedom that all could accept.

Most Americans believed passionately in liberty and freedom, but they understood those ideas in very different ways. Town-born New Englanders had an idea of ordered freedom and the rights of belonging. Virginia’s cavaliers thought of hierarchical liberty as a form of rank. Gentleman freeholders had much of it, servants little, and slaves nearly none.

Quakers in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey believed in a reciprocal liberty of conscience in the spirit of the golden rule. African slaves thought of liberty as emancipation. Settlers in the Southern backcountry understood it as a sovereign individual’s right to be free from taxes and government, and to settle things his own way: Don’t tread on me!

In 1776, Jefferson’s job was to bring together these Americans who were united by their passion for liberty and freedom, but divided by their understanding of those ideas. With much help from Adams and Benjamin Franklin, he created a new vision of these principles with many contrived ambiguities, studied evasions and deliberate omissions on contested questions. Slavery was not condemned and equality was not defined, nor could they be without disrupting the common cause in 1776. And yet Jefferson’s soaring vision gave these ideas room to grow, and that great process became the central theme of American history.

July 3, 2008. One New World, Two Big Ideas by David Hackett Fischer

Jason said...

Alt. Perspective,

I found it frustrating that you assume I have not spoke with chairs, faculty or a task force members and as for the student government I am regularly having conversations with several members.

What I don't understand is the loyalty oath comment you made. There are people who took a significant risk regarding their livelihoods by signing the education first petition. (otherwise there would not be so many anonymous bloggers) I think they deserve a thank you from the students and I personally made a point to do so in person. I also don't agree with it having a personal attack against Koshalek in the petition but I do agree with education first.

Regarding the people who have signed the petition and have not been invited contribute to the task force. "If you have a leader you want them to lead for you." The administration could bring these people on board and send a message.

A side note on complacency: There are a lot of people who think it's OK to put artist's in 150k debt bondage and spend money on celebrity architecture while using the excuse, "everybody else is doing it." My question to them is, when has doing what everybody else does good for a innovative college, a student's education and their continuing success?

Fifth Way said...

"Mr. Perspective" said:

"If Dean Scarborough did in fact resign, it was likely because he was scared of some potential consequences, financial? combative environment?, of being on the Art Center board. I believe he was the newest member, and likely lured in by Mr. Koshalek via lots of promises etc.... Hopefully Mr. Koshalek's power hungry tactics and manipulation of the board has not just now chased even more money away."

This is just more shameless character assassination. Don't believe it, folks.

Richard Koshalek is not to blame for this latest news. Koshalek in fact worked diligently to bring such a supportive member of the Pasadena community onto the board. Scarborough's resignation is really a tragedy for Art Center, especially if he to take with him the $2 million donation toward scholarships.

Mr. Scarborough likely wanted to be a friend to a fellow Pasadena institution, but couldn't believe what was happening on the board, above all. The board, after all, approved all the activities and initiatives undertaken by Art Center during the past 9 years.

This is ugly, dirty business, and the people who wanted to take down Koshalek "by any means necessary" are indeed succeeding to take down the school as well.

Hopefully Mr. Scarborough will continue the donation, but it doesn't look promising.

But for all of you who are touting an all-alumni board must be rejoicing. Good for you. Sad for the rest of us.

Jason said...

Dear Fifth way,

Please don't forget that the people hear want to see a focus on education. Although some opinions on this blog are anti Koshalek they are not without reasons. He has been the captain of a ship that was and his leadership was clearly stewing significant frustration. This is not the frustrated peoples fault as you have implied.

Consider the total population of Art Center including alumni who had been notified of the current events in the media. If they chose to support a cause it was 4 to 1 for "education first" over "honesty first"

Regarding speculating the Board: Could it be that the costs of this project out weight the benefit or at least perceived benefit at this present time?

Do you think that reaccessing an expansion plan in a economic downturn is unwise?

Even the summarized numbers indicate that the focus on expansion project outweighed other fund raising efforts such as the endowment under Richard's leadership.(A growing endowment is good for everybody).

Fund raising efforts are now being focused on scholarship and endowment according to Wayne Heron who was told told to do so by Richard. That is a direct result of this dialog and is good news for everyone.

We need solutions other than raising tuition.

Bambi said...

5th way wrote:

"This is ugly, dirty business, and the people who wanted to take down Koshalek "by any means necessary" are indeed succeeding to take down the school as well."

If the school is so weak that it can not survive open criticism of the president and its board, then it is an institution that should be euthanized.

But the school is stronger than the panic-hype that you preach about it. So big deal, Richard got asked about why Nathan Young quit. Why should we not have asked about it? Then Rachael openly contradicted his lie. She gets summarily fired for speaking out and the gloves came off. Richard made some very poor decisions in the wake of Nathan's departure. Perhaps just "telling the truth" might have saved us all from this mess.

Instead, the presidet lost trust and credibility. First with the ACCD community, and then with the board. Now the board itself is up for scrutiny.

This school has been running mostly on student funding for all of its existence. So with that in mind, if a few board members abandon ship, the school will already survive.

Now it's time to get the school back on track and get back to work.

Ophelia Chong said...

Now it's time to get the school back on track and get back to work."

Jason wrote:
"We need solutions other than raising tuition."

I second both.

Fifth Way said...

How is the potential loss of $2 million toward scholarships a good thing?

The problem is, it is not easy for raise money for a private college when the alumni do not give back. Harvard does not need the money, but their alumni give back. This is the long-standing situation at Art Center. As an unorthodox "school" then college, it hasn't operated like other colleges until more recently. Koshalek helped to raise more money for scholarships and endowment than ever in the college's history. That is putting Education first, by the way.

That he is now treated as some kind of pariah is just plain wrong. But whatever. The spinmeisters win. And fundraising lumbers on.

It will take MANY an alum donation to make up for the $2 million. Are you alums up for it?

Bambi, do you dare heed Ophelia's call to give to the Legacy Circle?

Ophelia Chong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alternate Energy said...

Fifth Way said:
That he is now treated as some kind of pariah is just plain wrong. But whatever. The spinmeisters win.

Koshalek was undone by the truth when his own spin machine could no longer sustain the hype.

He fired Scarlett Osterling for raising scholarship money instead putting all her resources into the DRC -- and Emily Laskin, brought in because she had all the Disney Hall contacts, quit after a few months because of the same dispute. His only real CFO left after just a few months, and the trustees are now aware of questionable financial practices that were hidden from them for years.

Koshalek's miscalculations and misplaced priorities have cost us dearly in finances and reputation. It is revisionist history to blame the victims who spoke up, for consequences that he, alone, owns.

Bambi said...

5th Way:

I do NOT dare heed to give to the legacy circle (yet). Doing so would be like tossing the money away.

Distrust of Art Center fiscal policy is at the core of the recent unrest. Of the 1500+ people who signed the "Education First" petition, a very large percentage were alumni. Alumni who have been upset for decades with poor fiscal policy atArt Center. Alumni who have been hesitant to donate until Art Center gets its priorities straight.

Through my checking account, I actually donate to my wife's alma mater, and I have absolutely no issues with doing so.

You have correctly stated that the key to the endowment is in us alumni, and you are correct. One of the things I remember my peers saying towards the end of Art Center was in how they intended to never give a dime back to Art Center, ever.

But I believe that with some key changes and attitude adjustments, Art Center can (and just might) get to a place were alumni feel absolutely COMPELLED to give back.

Bambi said...

Alternate Energy wrote:\

"His only real CFO left after just a few months"

Interesting. The last president of Art Center also had a CFO quit in protest over misplaced spending priorities.

People, CFO's do not walk away from CFO jobs lightly. These jobs do not grow on trees. It takes a lof for someone to walk away from a position like that.

This is why I have been so critical of the board in this mess. Fiscal priorities that are a result of poor leadership and oversight.

Ophelia Chong said...

Just to clarify Legacy Circle Scholarships:

Membership in the Legacy Circle is $1000 a year and donors designate how they want their scholarship directed: to Public Programs, General Scholarships in the undergraduate program, or to the undergraduate / graduate program of your choice.

It goes directly to the student, not the Annual Fund. I designated mine to go to a Fine Arts Student.


Fifth Way said...


It would be interesting to hear what changes and "altitude adjustments" you would need in order to feel compelled to give back to Art Center. From what you wrote, it sounds like it will take a cold day in hell!

But if you don't deem the College worth your money, why do you spend so much time thinking and writing about it (on this blog)? Still working out some stuff on your own? Just wondering.

Fifth Way said...

RE: the only real "CFO"

There's more to the story there. A matter of cultural differences, let's just say.

Bambi said...

5th Way:

I would need to see Art Center develop a "Spend each dollar as if it were our own" mantra, first and foremost. They currently have a very "Marie Antoinette" attitude towards spending. The school does not operate on a basic system of economic sense. They are quick to spend money on superficial things, yet are also quick to shaft students with the bill. Jetting to Tokyo to have drinks is not beneficial for students. It never has been, and never will be.

However, to help feed the machine (and it's hunger), they resort to exceptionally unfair academic policies that are designed to ensure that the school gets a maximum amount of money out of each and every student. Transfer credit is accepted only in rare circumstances, yet they hope that other institutions will be kind to their alumni in return. Art Center takes, but does not give back in that regard. They wish to be held in high regard in academia, but their elitism is starting to show as primarily economically rather than "academically" motivated.

I have been very generous to young ACCD alums who have crossed my path, so I have not turned my back on the place. I might not donate, but ACCD grads have benfitted from my assistance in job placement and networking.

I do care deeply about the place, as I look back on my educational experience in (mostly) fond ways.

As far as certain people who are trying to motivate the crowd to donate as a starting point for the future of Art Center, I look at it as covering your addict child's rent before he/she has hit rock-bottom. Money that is not well spent. Once Art Center recognizes that it has lost focus, and takes active steps to GET focused, I'll be there to help out financially. I think the key to future solvency is in alumni giving, but most leave Art Center feeling that they got a great education, but would never trust a dime to the place (and for good reason).

Art Center is a small institution that needs to start thinking (fiscaly) like a large one. The big universities can sponsor seminars in Europe and forge partnerships for lofty subjects. Little ones like Art Center just can't.

Spending has been out of control for decades, and with a real CFO, the real cost of attending Art Center can be realized and trust restored.

Bambi said...

"A matter of cultural differences, let's just say."

Let me guess: "Don't YOU tell ME that going to Barcelona is a bad idea!", right?

These are the same kinds of reasons that another former CFO cited in his departure from the campus. CPA's have legal responsibilities in regards to fiscal matters. Often, they are faced with CEO's that have big feelings of entitlement. Often they must choose between potential jail time and doing what is right. Sounds like they chose the right path.

Future of Art Center said...

To Jason and others, can you explain more what you mean by the faculty/student bills of rights? We can put up a topic on that, but I'm unclear what you have in mind and am not sure faculty students would understand either. Perhaps you can give some examples you would contribute...

Alternate Perspective said...

Student Bill of Rights:

1. Students have the right to a current accounting of how their tuition dollars are spent.
2. Students have the right to expect that at least half of the Advancement Team's time goes to raising scholarship.
3. Students have the right to address the Board.
4. Students should have a representative on all search committees.


This could be crafted by a "Constitutional Convention" of sorts and be ratified by a school-wide student vote. It could then be approved or vetoed by the Faculty Council (or some other body) to provide a kind of checks and balances to insure that the "rights" are viable.

Alternate Perspective said...


Regarding the signing issue: Please consider that there are those who may have disagreed with portions of Education First; there are those who didn't sign because they were opposed to the strategy, not the goals (i.e. Faculty Council made a policy decision not to participate in the online polemics); and then there are those who did not sign because they feared repercussions.

I understand that you are saying that the signers deserve to be recognized. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Please don't overly romanticize the issue. I spend 50+ hours a week putting education first. I have seen the full spectrum of the issues first-hand. Reading blogs and one-sided media reports and then hitting the "submit" or "publish" button from afar is not true commitment in my book. Once those signers who are not on campus work on Saturdays or late at night or give up time with their kids to put Art Center education first--as I do--then they can come talk to me about how their signing the petition gives them special rights to determine the future of the school.

Bambi said...

You can't back a demand for a student bill of rights with "silent" protests. I'm surprised you guys didn't ask for permission first.

Unless you're all willing to pump-up the volume, I suggest just hitting the X-Box and chilling-out.

Ophelia Chong said...

to Alternative Perspective

You brought up a great point. Until you have been on campus, you really can't understand the heart of the issues. I have seen comments from people who haven't been on campus and/or havent' been in contact with fellow grads for years.

The writers that crafted the petition are students and recent grads. They tailored it to their immediate needs and it was written quickly to meet a specific date. Now we have a chance to talk together and see each other view points on this blog and FOAC.

And thank you for putting Education First, you are cut from the same cloth as the instructors I had when I was at ACCD. They played a major influence in my life and I am grateful that they put in the extra time for me.


Bambi said...

The school has (for many years) had an ill-defined process for dispute resolution between students and faculty, and between students and administration. I'm sure the same lack of process exists for faculty members as well. This needs to be rectified.

Academic probation and dismissal policies are well documented, but many other areas have yet to be defined and documented.

The fact is that, right now, a member of the administration can make a threat against a student (such as what happened in Nathan's case) and fully expect to get away with it. And they may even be acting with the full support of the President.

The board needs to recognize that many things need to change in this regard. The school has had to defend itself against numerous lawsuits in the past, specifically because of the heavy-handed tactics of certain employees of the school. Instead of taking steps to improve proceedures and processes, the school has opted to retain the freedom to meet out justice in their own ill-defined manner.

Fifth Way said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason said...

Alt. Perspective,

We can agree that people who are not on campus or have not put in the time recently may lack accurate judgement. I've agreed with a lot that you have said before on this blog you are clearly a voice of reason, I also get the impression you might think I'm some kind of radical which is only half true.

I started this school with a lot of skepticism I was dabbling in night classes in 2001-2 and experienced a the outrage from tuition spikes, this caused me find a more reasonable design school. (those prices look more reasonable now)I came back to ACCD for the work ethic.

I've done my home work on ACCD and you and I would probably agree that it has seen it's fair share of power struggle issues and plenty of new visions that typically come at the cost of student and faculty experience.

For myself, the petition was about allocating resources simply put. Only a few outspoken alums have been critical of the educational practices. I know many of the students who initially fueled this discussion are recent grads with huge financial burdens.(In my opinion this is essential element to this whole dynamic)

This leds us to the financial struggles of students and are a result of the mismanagement of finances for generations of ACCD leadership (student and tax payer dollars)

ACCD has a habit of creating animosity from it's alumni and I believe this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed at it's root.

If you are trying to convince me that I should not thank people that supported education first I would say that's unreasonable? Let's talk about what's next we can agree to disagree here.

I strongly believe these issues would have been squashed by the current administration without press. Before I could not seen much changing now things are happening and this is a fact.

I would like to hear your thoughts on faculty rights and where resources could be allocated. Do you think students have the judgment to make such large demands?

Perhaps ignorance is bliss and we we just wait for slow change all the while passing on problems to a younger generation. Yes, we face education budget cuts and because there is not appropriate checks and balances in place we will feel the consequences as faculty and students.

This again leads us to leadership and priorities of resources.

Fifth Way said...

Nate Young/Bambi:

Care to respond to what was posted over at FOAC today?

anonymous said...
A reminder to those asking questions about Nate Young: he closed down criticism and theory, failed to hire a Dean to represent Arts & Media, and had plans to close down first undergrad Fine Art, and later after Richard was gone, grad Fine Art. He was not a friend to those who are engaged in critical thinking and creative or artistic practice. He was pro-corporate design all the way and his Dean Structure was the first step in a long-term vision to make the school all design, all the time. That is a dangerous situation--not only for photographers, filmmakers, and artists--but for designers!

7/9/08 7:41 AM

Bambi said...

5th Way:

I'm flattered that you think I'm Nate Young.

But I do not advocate getting rid of the fine art program. Why? Because it (in theory) costs very little to run. Also, some artists/designers do better by coming through a program such as fine art as compared to all the existing "Joe Pro" programs.

I also think that having a gazillion "deans" is getting really thick in terms of administrative "weight". Either there should be fewer of them, or the CAO should be expected to cover that role too.

I also fear a situation where the ID academic leadership gets too powerful in terms of leading the school. I think a dangerous power-play was happening, so this change has been good

Ophelia Chong said...

The largest major at ACCD?

Fine Art/ Illustration Grads of note:

Jorge Pardo
Pae White
Doug Aitkens
Mark Ryden
Owen and Aaron Wilson
Matt Mahurin
Tara McPherson
Crash McCreedy
Craig Mullins
Jennifer Steinkamp
Jeff Soto
Joel Nakamura
Robert Clayton

Add to the list...

Bambi said...

Just curious:

Where did all of this talk about Nathan Young taking over the school and converting it to a big industrial design program come from? I've met more than a few trans grads who never got the chance to WORK in trans, so I can't imagine that increasing the scope of ID makes alot of economic sense.

Art Center has been cranking out painters, graphic designers, photographers and filmmakers for many, many decades now. Without those majors, the dating opportunities for the male ID students drop to just about zero

Bambi said...

I just saw this interesting gem on the "Honesty First" petition:

"5:54 pm PDT, Jul 7, S McNealy, California
The former CEO who is the main guy in charge of this smear campaign-who along with his christian right buddies like to use the names, Bambi,Perfect Storm, etc. This guy was OVER 1 million dollars over budget!just his last term and had been consistently over budget for the 5 years he worked there. FACT. The cost of one Design Conference is less than the amount of school's money he squandered. FACT. The Design Conference makes a profit for the school as well as establishing Art Center’s reputation with professionals around the world. Just as the new student housing and DRC included in the master plan will do. Koshalek raised more money for Art Center in 7 years than anytime in its 75 year history-you guys have been yes-criminally stupid" to let the likes of him go. The Head of Avery Dennison has now resigned because of the spineless action of the Board in not renewing Koshalek’s contract and capitulating to nothing more than a smear campaign. The former CEO acts like a spoiled little prince who assumed he'd get his daddy's job. Since that opportunity was taken away from him he has set out for revenge- attacking the school,and anything postive or supportive someone says. And what would make alumni be a bunch of clowns and spread the lies of an old employee? Arrogance, popularity, a need to feel important? These folks stabbed every student and alumni in the back. BIG MISTAKE ART CENTER!"

First off, I think you meant the "Chief Academic Officer", not the CEO. Agsin, for the secnd time. Second, I am flattered that you assume I'm Nate Young. I'm just a shlub alumni who has not even set foot on campus in perhaps a few years now. The only thing I'm bitter about is Art Center's long history of putting the education second, and its leadership's egos first.

I do not think I have even met Nate Young before, and I really can't comment about his motives or philosophies, as I have no idea. If I had to choose between "Bringing Nate back" and bringing Koshalek back, I think I'd advocate choosing neither. Seriously. Clearly these two personalities have divided everyone. I won't even put blame towards one side or another. I've even said that Koshalek executed the precise strategy that the board hired him to execute, and I've layed my blame more towards the board than any single person.

Also worthy of note, that "more scholarship money in 7 years than in all of the previous 75 years" comment is really inaccurate. A gigantic percentage of that money came from a single benefactor...more of a windfall rather than a result of any fundraising efforts. It's about as off-base as saying Clinton "fixed the economy" in the 90's. He just happened to be the guy behind the desk when it happened. I dunno, he seems like a nice enough guy though. Firing Rachael was a really bad move, and I think the retaliatory termination is what got my goat.

Ophelia Chong said...


and i bet it was "anonymous". people like that are uninformed and if ever confronted face to face would never say one word posted.

sorry to see that.


Ophelia Chong said...

that same person "s nealy" posted basically the same comment on FOAC, but as "anonymous".


thewallshaveeyes said...

Bambi said:
“Clearly these two personalities have divided everyone.”

It wasn’t personalities. It was/is policy. Very different policies about mission, priorities, finance, HR.

Jason said...

I think Wallshaveyes is correct.

Not having community backed priorities was the fundamental problem.

I'm going to post my viewpoint on priorities on the top 5 thread on futureofartcenterblog right now.

I hope this will grow and we begin to see common themes that will become policy.

Bambi said...

"Not having community backed priorities was the fundamental problem."

Art Center's top leadership operates in a very closed-door manner. While you are a student, one is expected to have a blind-faith trust that they are guiding things correctly and are acting in everyone's best interests. Alumni are essentially forgotten (unless we have a new platinum selling record or we just designed the newest Volkwagen) and are rarely consulted on things. Faculty is given pretty much no voice at all.

What does that leave? Nothing, really. It leaves a board and top leadership team that are not accustomed to being accountable to anyone but themselves.

I think Art Center is very used to the idea that alumni do not not give back. That's really sad. They've never taken a hard look at WHY alumni are reluctant to give back. Art Center is not willing to ask tough questions of itself.

Fifth Way said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bambi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ophelia Chong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ophelia Chong said...

Yesterday I was at Tink Adam's house in Silverlake. It is now owned by ACCD alumni Glenn Lawson and Grant Fenning. The Japanese themed house sits above Silverlake. The event was a gathering of students and alumni of ACCD. Glenn and Grant graciously opened their home to the Outnetwork of ACCD.

We sat on the patio and watched the sunset over the lake, casting a golden orange over the clouds onto the hills.

As I stood there with my friends, we all commented on how lucky we were to be there to share that sunset at Tink's home. Here was the place that he stood and watched the sunsets.

Being a part of ACCD is not about who's doing what or what side they are on, it's about community. It's about sharing.

I hope that we build that sense of community across ACCD. Nothing comes easy, so I am prepared to work very hard at it.

And sharing a sunset is one of the most wonderful things you can do.

Bambi said...

5th Way:

I did not say I'll never give back. I hope Art Center will soon get to a point where I'll feel comfortable in actually giving back.

At least I care about this. You only seem to care about what I think about this. As if you were stalking me. Far from productive. What have you contributed lately? Do you throw money at the problem?

Ophelia Chong said...

What I find most interesting about ACCD is that there are networks within the college that are bound together through friendship, and that they cross over departments. These friendships are not based on loyalties or agendas. They are based on commonality. Those friendships are bound together by common interests, not the the collegeThey weather through the turmoil, and they don't pick sides.

As alumni, we are only bound to the college if we choose to. There is no reason to contribute or to participate in events, unless we choose to. The conundrum is not why Alumni don't contribute or come back, but how to get them back.
How do you build that link past graduation when its not there to begin with?

To create that link, you have to do that while the Alumni is still a Student. You have to foster community while they are there. There are groups now that are serviced by the Student Life dept., but they are hamstrung by budget and manpower. This is where Alumni can step in, already there are a few that are holding events for students and Alumni, but we need more. If you don't want to connect to the college, then connect with the Students. Have an event at your studio, give a lecture, mentor.
Participate on that level. It's fulfilling and you are giving back directly.


Ophelia Chong said...

You can contact these amazing people directly to help out now by mentoring, holding an event at your studio, or just getting back in contact with other alumni:

Jeffrey Hoffman
Director of
Student Life

Director, Alumni Relations

Jean Mitsunaga / Mentorships
Director Career Development

Ophelia Chong said...

When was the last time a board member met with students? Or attended a grad show? When was the last time you attended a grad show?

If you are interested in seeing the work of Graduating Students please attend the next Grad Show. Alumni, if you haven't been back, now is a great time to show your support of the grads, to pick up postcard samples of their work and maybe even offer some sage advice.

Thursday August 14, 2008

5-9pm Preview of Summer Graduating Students' Work

9 - 10:30pm Graduation Preview Reception

Call 626.396.2435 to reserve your place by Monday August 11, 2008
or email

Ophelia Chong said...

Fundraising is harder than ever in this economy

From the NY Times Sat. July 20th, 2008
"Trustees of the Children’s Museum of the East End rejected a dinner dance at a rented farm in favor of a cocktail party on the museum grounds here, replaced a five-piece rock ‘n’ roll cover band with a teenage jazz combo and slashed ticket prices to $150 from $450, but still only drew about 150 guests, half the number that turned out for the benefit last year."

To read the full article click here

The paradigm has shifted and we are no longer conducting business as usual when it comes to fundraising. Companies such as GM is cutting back with a 20 percent reduction in payroll for salaried workers, elimination of health care for older white-collar retirees, and suspension of G.M.’s annual stock dividend of $1 a share. The last item on their list is giving and it's special interests first.

We have to shift gears to raise the funds that is out there, and our competition is going after the smaller pot as well with new strategies.

Do we put on large conferences that cost us more than they raise?
Or do we show how we can actually save money and use it wisely?
We show the potential donors how we put it to use for the education for the students.Direct scholarships, equipment, faculty, whatever it takes to maintain and to enhance the quality of the education of the students.

Now is the time to show that we can use the resources given to us wisely, because we can be an example of true sustainability, environmentally and financially.

Ophelia Chong said...

Congratulations to the Students of Art Center College of Design

DEA Awards 2008 July 17, 2008, 5:00PM EST

The Best Global Design of 2008
Europeans, Asians, and Latin Americans took more International Design Excellence Awards than ever. And students made a strong showing

Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., dominated among design schools, with three silvers and three bronzes.

To read the full article:
The Best Global Design of 2008

Ophelia Chong said...

The Education Budget

If you took out the conferences and the expenses of putting them on from the Education Budget would it still be overbudget?

Ophelia Chong said...

Why Dana Walker is Important to Art Center

Dana Walker , Managing Director, Public Programs and Director, Art Center at Night

I first met Dana last year when I was forming our women alumni group "Habit Forming". She was kind enough to let us have unused space in the South Campus once a month to hold our meetings. We would bring art to crit or do art projects.

Dana was always there when we met at 7pm. She was there every night of the week working until 10pm. She always had a minute to say hello, even when her desk was piled high with work.

Not only is she the managing director, she is also an accomplished artist and photographer. Art Center is fortunate to have such a wonderful woman working for the college and the alumnae is fortunate to have her as their supporter.


Jason said...

The anonymity of the faculty on this thread speaks volumes. At the very least we should demand from our leadership policy changes that make open discussion possible.

The ACCD community forum has ignored important questions and the culture of fear is alive and well among faculty. Even if the administration states that open discussion is possible the trust was lost when they fired Rachael for responding to students concerns about the departure of Nate Young.

The task forces have not made any announcements and some have not even met. We will see when they do make announcements if they have addressed the issues that resulted in such a disgruntled ACCD community.

Please imagine being a student today:(1500/month student loans with a monthly net of 3000/month which is 55k/year)

-Is that really something worth expanding at the expense of students?
-Is this expansion providing something we cannot achieve already with our existing facilities?

Looking at these plausible #'s I believe our leadership's management of our money like many educational institution's in the US is unethical if not borderline criminal.

I hope my generation hands off a educational system than is not enshrouded in debt bondage, but I doubt it considering the current leadership had much better role models than we have today.

Ophelia Chong said...

Art Center in the NY Times, about the future of Car Design.

Putting the Dream Car Out to Pasture
NY Times, July 27th

“The trick now for the car companies is to come up with cars that won’t make people feel horrible about downsizing,” said Mr. Wardle of the Art Center College of Design.

To read the full article
Putting the Dream Car Out to Pasture

Ophelia Chong said...

Living ACCD style with Zek.

For those who are not students, or graduated way back, it's a nice reminder (insight) of what students go through on a daily basis.

thanks zek!

Click here:
The ACCDzek Channel


Jason said...

Who deserves a vote on the board that represents the Art Center Community?

Alumni, Faculty, Tenured faculty,
Staff, Students, people that give more than 5 million dollars?

By law a non-profit board is accountable to the community it serves. Everyone seems to be so powerless awaiting their next decision.

My guess is that this political structure encourages bad behavior in a world that is becoming more transparent and democratic.

I think this is a concern worth discussing. Many in the Art Center Community feel strongly feel the power is distributed unequally.

What is would be a valid proposal bring more balance?

Ophelia Chong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ophelia Chong said...

Good question Jason. Here are my thoughts:

Definition of a Trustee:
Trustees have certain duties, these include the duty to carry out the express terms of the trust instrument, the duty to defend the trust, the duty to prudently invest trust assets, the duty of impartiality among the beneficiaries, the duty to account for their actions and to keep the beneficiaries informed about the trust, the duty of loyalty, the duty not to delegate, the duty not to profit, the duty not to be in a conflict of interest position and the duty to administer the trust in the best interest of the beneficiaries.

We trust them to oversee the college and the most important asset, the Student. And have they?

Questions on the expense of Serious Play 2008, Radical Craft 2006 , Stories from the Source 2004

1. Why has the college spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (from the education fund) on Conferences?

2. How much did the Barcelona Conference cost the college/students? How many excursions were made there? At what was the end benefit for the students or the college?

3. Who benefits from the Conferences? Why are not the students or faculty given a free pass?

4. How many people are on retainer for each year for the conferences?

5. Who in the end is paying for all of this?

6. And lastly, when is the bill due?

Ophelia Chong said...

What has come back to haunt ACCD, and was an issue even in 2004:

Teaching an Old Design College New Tricks
Published: March 18, 2004

" WHEN the first Art Center Design Conference convenes here today with a high-wattage lineup of speakers, including Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, Bruce Mau and Hella Jongerius, nobody is likely to confuse the setting with other picturesque stops on the Western design conference circuit.

The main sessions will take place inside a cavernous former supersonic wind tunnel, whose renovation, by the Santa Monica firm Daly, Genik Architects, won't be complete for a few weeks. The neighborhood, in what used to be the industrial part of Pasadena, is pleasingly gritty or nondescript, depending on your point of view.

In other words, this is decidedly not the Aspen Design Conference, which meets each summer near the top of the Rocky Mountains, nor the exclusive TED Conference in Monterey, Calif.

And that is just fine with officials at the 74-year-old Art Center College of Design, which is the host of the gathering. The conference and the building renovation are both part of an aggressive effort, led by the school's president, Richard Koshalek, to bury Art Center's reputation as a secluded hilltop idyll. "

"Soon after Mr. Koshalek's arrival, he began looking for ways to expand the school's public programs -- and its physical presence -- as a way to end its seclusion. He also sought to do away with lingering trade-school associations by promoting a new emphasis on interdisciplinary and theoretical studies, looking to models like the Bauhaus. There are obstacles to Mr. Koshalek's vision, to be sure. Some faculty and staff members have balked at his priorities, suggesting that expensive building plans are racing ahead of more fundamental discussions about the curriculum."

"Aaron Stapley, a creative director at the design firm PrimoAngeli: Fitch in San Francisco, said that there had been a noticeable drop-off in the quality of the portfolios he sees from the school. ''I haven't been impressed,'' he said. 'We've not been doing any hiring lately from the Art Center, and we used to do so regularly.''

full NY Times article

Ophelia Chong said...

Budget Cuts

Why has the janitorial budget been cut back? And why are the instructors now being asked to clean the rooms between classes?

How much does the College spend on international travel? And since it's coming out of the Educational Fund, why does the College have unlimited funds for travel but not janitorial services?

thirdgen89 said...


That is a bad sign when they delegate simple necessities like cleaning to their teaching faculty yet continue to spend for needless things like expensive trips and other stuff that really do nothing for the promotion or survival of ACCD. There is seriously something wrong here...

Teachers should teach. Janitors should janitor. ACCD Top Brass should stop capital waste. Education should not suffer.

Ophelia Chong said...

Lets see how the new appointment of Nik Hafermass will help ACCD. Will he put the education as a priority? Or is this more inside work?

Lets also hope that Tim Kobe as an alum will push for education reform.

Ophelia Chong said...

All I can say about this appointment is that it is polarizing. Who was consulted besides the Board?

Was there a consensus?

The announcement:
I am very pleased to advise that effective immediately, Nik Hafermaas will serve as Acting Chief Academic Officer. This appointment was initiated by Tim Kobe as Chair of the Board of Trustees' Education Committee, and subsequently approved by the Education Committee members. Nik has been an invaluable member of our Education team, especially during this transition period, and we look forward to his continued leadership in placing education as Art Center's highest priority.


Richard Koshalek

///Alan Astonish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jason said...

I'm afraid that Tim Kobe's definition of "focus on education" is the same as Richard Koshalek's.

He certainly believes in building another building even though we owe roughly 30 million for last two underused pieces of architecture.

He signed the honesty first petition
# 205:
7:28 am PDT, Jun 12, Tim Kobe,

You would think being an architect he would have pushed for better circumstances for the environmental students. (For years they have had to walk with their large architectural models from the student parking lot to the faculty parking lot where their classes are held in FEMA shacks.) A situation like this probably feeds the parking ticket revenues.

Ophelia Chong said...

Pandora's Box

Once you get a peek at the ledgers,
what will be in there?

How much do we owe for the conferences?

How much came out of the Educational Fund?

How much are we overbudget now in Travel expenses?

And what goes first?

Ophelia Chong said...


Who's going to Paris? And will they all be around when we get the bill for it?

Is this fiscally responsible?
And who's paying for it? The Students.

Ophelia Chong said...

bonjour Alternate Perspective

Have fun in Paris.

jason said...

Mya said...

i am just a prospective student researching on weather i should go to ACCD or not. now that i discover all this craziness i am so confused. does any of this affect my decision to go there or not?

i mean i need to find a school in and around la. looked at fidm and art institute and they both suck.

compared to them art center is amazing but i mean i don't know if angry alumnis are a good sign either.

and what is this about someone being billed for a class even after they graduated?

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