From Words to Action: ArtCenter's Commitment to Black Lives

On May 26, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year old Black man, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. Floyd’s death was followed by national and international protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

ArtCenter President Lorne Buchman was compelled to share his reflections about the civil unrest in an email to our College community. “And so, as rage and grief pour out onto our streets,” he pondered, “how can ArtCenter, in all its creative power, participate in healing the pervasiveness of hate and racism that afflicts us—and has done so for generations?”

Like many cultural and educational institutions, ArtCenter has wrestled with our own role in perpetuating and contributing to a system that favors White voices in academia and a cannon that favors a Western Civilization view of art and design. And, while diverse in many respects, Black and Brown students and faculty remain underrepresented at the College.

ArtCenter has already taken important steps to address these issues in a number of ways, among them: embedding diversity initiatives into our strategic plans, establishing a shared governance Council on Diversity and Inclusion, implementing a Board-created quasi-endowment fund to offer scholarships to diverse students, hiring the College’s first-ever chief diversity officer, and hosting a number of critical conversations and community-building events and activities. Still, ArtCenter acknowledges that there’s more work to be done.

In that spirit, Aaron Bruce, our vice president and chief diversity officer, presided over a community update to address how the College intends to move “From Words to Action.” During the presentation, Bruce, Buchman, ArtCenter Provost Karen Hofmann, and Title IX Director Kristen Entringer outlined a number of commitments to support members of our Black community.


Declarations

  • I want to begin with the words Black Lives Matter – and to hold this gathering today in the spirit of those words
  • We stand with the Floyd family and offer the deepest condolences for their unbearable pain at the murder of Mr. Floyd by the police
  • We recognize as well—with broken hearts—that today would have been Brionna Taylor’s 27th birthday; we honor her memory
  • We stand with the Black community all across this nation and need them to know they are deeply seen and heard
  • We stand with the protestors throughout the country demanding change and hold gratitude for their fight and for the hope they offer
  • We stand with our Black student body, alumni, faculty, staff, trustees and state unequivocally our alliance with them
  • We stand with all members of the ArtCenter community calling out for transformation

Lorne Buchman
From Words to Action
June 9, 2020

Community and Cultural Commitments

  1. Provide safe spaces for every member of this community to vent and to open up about the expression of their pain, concerns, perspectives, experiences.
  2. Establish working groups to build the strategy for the change we need and the structure that will sustain it.

Financial Commitments

  1. Dedicate $7 million in the coming year to diversity scholarships. $5.5 million for continuing students and $1.5 million to recruit a diverse incoming class.
  2. Dedicate $1 million in the coming year to the recruitment of a diverse faculty.
  3. Launch philanthropic campaign to exclusively fund scholarships for students of color and for diverse faculty recruitment. 

Pandemic-related Support

  1. Increase our technology fund for any student requiring equipment or broadband services for remote learning.
  2. Increase our fund for all housing- and food-insecure students as well as aid to our families facing economic hardship as a result of the pandemic.

DEI Commitments

  1. Establish The Collective, a resource for young Black filmmakers and storytellers providing opportunities and resources for cinematic storytelling using the power of media. Collective members will have access to outstanding filmmakers from Hollywood and around the world as well as opportunities for scholarships, mentoring, internships and communal gatherings.
  2. Launch an exchange program with Historic Black Colleges and Universities to expand our network and share our resources.
  3. Establish a series  of small group meetings addressing social, emotional, and cultural issues impacting our community.
  4. Digitize the 90/300 exhibition in order to share it with high schools around the country.
  5. Provide art and design learning opportunities for middle and high school students.

Academic Commitments

  1. Implement diversity in the classroom by increasing faculty diversity. This work has already begun and will be accelerated with the newly announced $1 million allocation for diverse hires.
  2. Form an academic advisory team to focus on curriculum, pedagogy and academic programming around issues of diversity. The team will be drawn from a group of diverse external and internal artists, designers, industry leaders, thought leaders and experts in DEI to build out a range of required and elective classes, exploring issues and ideas related to diversity in all disciplines.
  3. Hire expertise in critical social topics of our time and new curriculum as they alter the future of art and design and our practices Expand our current practice of bringing more diverse alumni and industry leaders into the classroom.
  4. Institute joint meetings between Student Government, Faculty Council and Chairs Council to ensure shared governance is held accountable for its diversity goals and represents each of its primary constituents.

Questions, comments, more information? Contact dei@artcenter.edu

Transcript

Read the transcript

This is a time for fundamental, systemic change. It begins with looking deep into ourselves, our institution, recognizing and acknowledging that the scourge of racism, unacceptably, exists within higher education in the United States and ArtCenter is no exception. We need to cultivate a culture of honesty and the courage to uncover the truth. We need to listen with open hearts and minds. And, we need to commit to the long term.

Lorne Buchman, President
Press Release

90/300: A Measure of Representation, In Celebration of Cultural Influence

Commercial photographer Barbara DuMetz graduated from ArtCenter in 1973. She poses for a portrait at the school’s exhibition celebrating the 300 black alumni in its 90-year history.
Los Angeles Times

Black graduates make up just 1% of ArtCenter alumni. Can an exhibition fix that?

YouTube

Watch the presentation

Statement

ArtCenter President Lorne Buchman's reflections on civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd

Protesters last year at the Whitney Museum in New York draped a banner over an edge of the building.
New York Times

Floyd Case Forces Arts Groups to Enter the Fray