LCAD president to retire in June

Laguna College of Art & Design Board is looking for a new president to succeed Dennis Power, whose retirement was announced Tuesday.

Power, who took over as president of LCAD July 2005 is credited with guiding the college through its transformation into an arts institution of national stature. His tenure will end June 30, at the close of the current academic year.

"When I came here, I gave it five years," Power said Tuesday. "That was up last year, but I gave it one more year.

"Bring president of LCAD has been rewarding, both personally and professionally — the community, the students, the faculty have been a joy to work with.

"But the college is in a great place right now and I have reached the point where I should not have to come to work every day. It had to happen sometime."

His retirement was announced Tuesday by college Board of Trustees President Steve Grommet.

"We are especially grateful to Dennis for the growth in academic programs, both in number and in stature," Grommet said. "Thanks to his leadership and his team, Laguna College of Art and Design is considered a national model for arts education."

Power, as is his wont, downplayed his achievements.

"It is very rewarding to look back on the progress the College has made in recent years, but I am quick to point out that our many recent accomplishments were realized through the collaborative efforts of many stakeholders working together: staff, faculty and trustees," Power said.

"The job of any leader is to guide strategic planning, nurture the environment in which advancements can be made, and help find the resources to make progress. I have a great team to work with and I'm grateful."

Under Power's leadership, the college has added an undergraduate major in Game Art and master's degrees in painting and drawing.

The College's operating budget has grown from $5 million in fiscal year 2005-06 to $8.3 million in the current fiscal year. Enrollment has also grown significantly, from 300 full-time-equivalent [adding in part-timers] students to 426 this term.

Power oversaw improvements to the main campus at 2222 Laguna Canyon Road, as well as the purchase and remodel in 2009 of a building to house Graduate Studies Department at 2663 Laguna Canyon Road.

This year, the college opened its first student housing at 793 Frontage Road adjacent to Art-a-Fai and created a new facility for its high tech Visual Communications Department at Big Bend.

All of the satellites are connected to the main campus by a shuttle system

"The expanded physical plant on Laguna Canyon Road now houses a national educational treasure at the gateway to our city," Grommet said.

Power strove during his tenure to nurture a relationship between town and gown.

"Laguna is a college town," he is fond of saying.

Councilman Kelly Boyd said Power has done a phenomenal job in forging a connection between the college and the city.

"He has gotten to know the community," Boyd said. "He will be missed."

Arts Commissioner Pat Kollenda, who has worked with Power on the Arts Alliance, said his retirement was a surprise to her.

"I feel it is a great loss to the college and to the city to which he has committed his creativity and dedication," Kollenda said.

City Arts Manager Sian Poeschl said she e-mailed him her congratulations and thanks for his contributions to the city.

"He will be sorely missed by the college and smaller organizations like the Arts Alliance, on which he served as president," Poeschl said.

Prior to coming to Laguna Beach, Power was executive director of the Oakland Museum of California from 1994 to 2005 and executive director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History from 1972 to 1994. He is also known to participate in sports car races.

The announcement of Power's retirement more than six months hence was made because the college needed to begin immediately the search for his replacement, essential with the 50th anniversary celebrations planned for 2011, with a kick-off celebration in the fall.

A search company has been hired.

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