Splitting its top job in two for the first time, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced Monday that Andrea L. Rich, the executive vice chancellor of UCLA, will become the museum's first president and chief executive officer.
Rich, who will assume the post Nov. 1, will have overall responsibility for museum operations and will help in the continuing search for a director to focus on the museum's artistic mission. That director will report to Rich.
The appointment of Rich, 51, is designed to fill a leadership vacuum that has plagued the Wilshire Boulevard institution since Michael Shapiro resigned as director 22 months ago, amid claims of administrative bungling.
It is hoped that by dividing the position, the museum will have an easier time courting a strong, scholarly director who might have been scared off by administrative and fund-raising challenges.
Those who know Rich, who is UCLA's second-in-command, say she is a tough-minded administrator who is decisive and persuasive. While her job as executive vice chancellor has involved her in what one person called "every nook and cranny" of UCLA, she is known as a special friend of the arts who has helped recruit several of UCLA's top faculty.
She orchestrated the recent restructuring of the university's arts programs and spearheaded its negotiations to take over the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center.
Colleagues also noted that Rich is a deft politician and fund-raiser, skilled at balancing the needs of several constituencies. And, they say, she combines tenacity with a sense of humor.
Her departure was greeted Monday as a major blow to the university.
"UCLA is losing its most brilliant administrator--the person who makes it all work," said David Rodes, director of the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, UCLA's collection of works of art on paper. "UCLA is a huge, resilient place. . . . We'll survive, but we're a little bit queasy-stomached at the moment."
UCLA Chancellor Charles E. Young was out of the country, but he released a statement praising Rich's vision and leadership.
"This is a loss for UCLA and a great day for LACMA," said Young, who indicated that the search for Rich's replacement will begin immediately.
Museum leaders said they believe Rich will bring much-needed vigor to the museum's fund raising and administration.
"She's a great, great administrator," said Henry Hopkins, chairman of the department of art and director of the UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum. "I know she will help to get LACMA back on track."
Leaders of other local museums also lauded the appointment.
"It's perfect," said Richard Koshalek, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art. "She is very experienced at managing complex institutions. She has a sensitivity to the arts that LACMA needs, and she really knows the city."
Some museum officials, however, expressed strong concerns that the system of having two chiefs has created internal tension at institutions that have tried it, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
"It's not a happy situation," said one top art museum director who declined to be identified. "The person who is in charge of the budget has the power."
LACMA board President William A. Mingst said that the search committee initially sought a single person with a variety of skills and expertise to succeed Shapiro, who resigned under duress in August, 1993. Shapiro left after less than a year at the helm, acknowledging the museum's need for a more experienced director.
"As the search continued, it became clear that we were really looking for one person to fill two jobs," Mingst said. "We decided to bring in two people at the apex of their careers."
Rich will earn an annual salary of $250,000, of which $100,000 will be paid by the county and the rest by Museum Associates, LACMA's private funding arm. The director will also have a $250,000 salary, but will be entirely paid by Museum Associates.
Shapiro was reportedly paid $175,000 annually, with $100,000 of that coming from the county.
Rich said the LACMA job came at a turning point in her career. Her next move would probably have been to become a university president, but that might have required her to leave Los Angeles.
Calling herself "a dedicated Angeleno," Rich said she chose LACMA because it is "a really excellent museum" that has already achieved respect but now aspires to move forward and play a leadership role in the 21st Century.
She said her vision of LACMA focuses on multicultural and multidisciplinary programs and collaborations with other institutions.
"From this podium and platform, I will do everything I can to reach out and work with other leaders so that we can do together what we as individuals could not do," she said.
She said her first priorities, after getting to know her staff, will be meeting with leaders of other art institutions to discuss cooperative ventures, and helping LACMA trustees craft long-range plans for property development and fund raising.
"The board of trustees wants the museum to be preeminent," she said. "If it can't be preeminent in collections . . . we will find a strategic niche in which to be preeminent, whether that be in the area of education, multicultural programs or another area. . . . The trustees will not settle for less."
A San Diego native, Rich enrolled as a freshman at UCLA in the fall of 1961 and never left. After receiving her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in communications, she became an assistant professor of communication studies. She won UCLA's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1974, but began working as an administrator after she was not granted tenure.
Rich served as acting dean of the School of Theater, Film and Television in 1990, before recruiting award-winning director/producer Gilbert Cates to replace her.
As vice chancellor for academic administration from 1987 to 1991, she oversaw the restructuring of UCLA's College of Fine Arts. The move split the college into two professional schools--the School of Theater, Film and Television and the School of the Arts (now called the School of the Arts and Architecture).
In 1991, she was named executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer--a job that had traditionally gone to someone with more of a scholarly record.
"That was exceptional," said Archie Kleingartner, the acting dean of UCLA's School of Public Policy and Social Research, who has worked closely with Rich. "It's a tribute to her that she was able to carry it out."
Since then, Rich has overseen UCLA's entire academic organization, which includes the College of Letters and Science and 11 professional schools, as well as the Medical Center, budget planning, capital programs and legal affairs.
Kleingartner said Rich has often talked with him about the deterioration of arts training in public schools. In her new job, he suggested, that might be an area she will target. And he was one of several people who said they hoped Rich's appointment would lead to greater collaboration between UCLA and LACMA.
"I like to believe that this represents not so much a departure of her from UCLA as an opportunity to blend UCLA . . . with the Museum of Art," he said. "In that sense, it's a win-win. L.A. as a community doesn't lose."