Art Center names new president

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Lorne M. Buchman, former president of a design college in San Francisco, has been named president and chief executive of the recently strife-ridden Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

The campus was riven last year by dissension and protest over its future and its educational priorities, leading to the resignation of longtime president Richard Koshalek after the school’s board of trustees denied him a contract extension and sidelined an expansion and construction program that ranked high on the agenda he had been hired in 1999 to pursue.

Buchman, who was president of the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) from 1994 to 1999, will start his new job in October. Since 2006 he has been president of Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center in San Francisco, dedicated to an approach to human and social improvement known as humanistic psychology. Buchman also is the principal in Buchman Associates, a consulting firm that helps nonprofit organizations build facilities. He has a theater background, with an undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto, and a doctorate from Stanford. He has been a faculty member and administrator at UC Berkeley.

‘Art Center has always been one of the most highly respected independent colleges of art and design in this country, and I couldn’t be happier about this opportunity,’ Buchman said in a prepared statement.


In Art Center’s press release announcing the appointment, Robert C. Davidson Jr., chairman of the search committee, noted that the group included students, faculty, alumni, staff and trustees, ‘a true cross-section of the Art Center community,’ and that ‘the entire Art Center community will no doubt benefit from Lorne’s deep understanding and appreciation of design and the creative process.’

Among the complaints leveled against Koshalek, sparked by the sudden May 2008 resignation of the college’s chief academic officer, was that he’d grown out of touch with students and with the quality of classroom and studio instruction as he focused on the fund-raising campaign for expansion, and on extending Art Center’s global impact and profile through international educational partnerships and design conclaves. Mounting tuition costs were also an issue.

Some critics among the alumni, many of whom have leading positions in automotive and graphic design, objected that Koshalek, a former director of L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art, lacked experience in the world of commercial design that is an Art Center forte. Koshalek landed in a prominent new spot in April, when he became director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Denied the contract extension beyond the end of 2009 that he’d been seeking, Koshalek at first agreed to serve out his term, then resigned three months later. Frank Ellsworth, a former president of Pitzer College, the Independent Colleges of Southern California and the Japan Society in New York City, has been Art Center’s interim president since last October.

-- Mike Boehm

Related stories:

Dissension at Art Center College of Design

No contract renewal for president of Pasadena Art Center College of Design

Art Center’s Richard Koshalek steps down