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News Wed Aug 04 2010

Walter E. Massey Named (Interim?) President of SAIC

walter E. Massey.jpgIn less than a month, students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago will return to classes under the new leadership of Walter E. Massey, who was named President of the school this summer. The SAIC community was surprised, (and a little peeved) by the resignation of Wellington "Duke" Reiter at the end of this past school year, after he served only two years as president. The sudden announcement of the position already being filled comes equally as shocking.

Students were told that the search for a new president could take up to a year, but that a committee was in place to ensure the continued flow of projects and improvements in a tumultuously transitional period for the "most influential art school" in the country. So why has a president been named already?

In a recent phone interview with the Chicago Tribune, SAIC chairman of the board, Cary D. McMillan, states that Massey is an "interim" president and that further decisions on the leadership of the school will be made at the end of the first semester. A press release sent to students and faculty of SAIC failed to mention "interim" in Walter Massey's new title. Is this guy around to stay, or what? Your guess is as good as mine.

Even as an "interim", or temporary president, Massey's background is not particularly impressive to the arts community of SAIC. He previously sat on the board of Bank of America, currently sits on the board of McDonald's, and served as president emeritus of Morehouse College in Atlanta. He's held a variety of other titles that likely make him an impressive business man, but none relating to art schools or the arts community. Duke received a lot of slack for trying to make SAIC a more traditional institution and less "artsy", but Duke was also an artist and architect, and previously taught at one of our biggest competitors, Rhode Island College of Design.

McMillan claims that "Dr. Massey's extensive background as a leader in higher education, the business world, and the foundation community will be a strong asset for SAIC," but where is Massey's relevance in a school devoted to the arts?

Hopefully, as the summer draws to a close and students start buying new paintbrushes, more light will be shed on why Walter Massey was chosen as the new president of SAIC, and how permanent his title will be.

 
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Kelly Reaves / August 4, 2010 2:33 PM

Hm. I'd like the job. Maybe I should apply. They just might hire me. Hell, I've got "ART" tattooed on my arm. That's enough, right?

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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