Architecture

The naked guy at graduation is just one of Steven Lavine's memories from 29 years of running CalArts

The naked guy at graduation is just one of Steven Lavine's memories from 29 years of running CalArts

The paintings have been removed from the walls and the desktop photos have been wrapped and put away. Strewn around the room, odds and ends await boxing: a gong and assorted piles of books. After 29 years, Steven Lavine, the third president of the California Institute of the Arts, is retiring. This month, he attended his last CalArts graduation.

“After handing out degrees for 28 years,” he says with wistful smile, “I was given an honorary degree as well.”

Over the course of his long tenure, Lavine has faced triumph and devastation.

When he took the reins at CalArts in 1988, the school — the experimental arts outpost located on the northern fringes of Los Angeles — was in...

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