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KCAI President Announces Retirement, Effective Monday

Mark McDonald
Kansas City Art Institute

Updated: 5:30 p.m., Monday

The Kansas City Art Institute has announced that President Jacqueline Chanda is retiring, effective Monday.

In May, the faculty sent the board of a trustees a "no confidence" vote for Chanda. 

The board distributed a letter this morning to faculty, staff, and students including the following: 

"Jacqueline Chanda, president of the Kansas City Art Institute since 2011, has informed the board that she plans to retire on Aug. 4, 2014." 

The chair of the board, Steve Metzler, will step in as interim president. 

In the letter, Metzler, who's served on the board for five years, described Chanda as a "'visionary and change agent' who brought numerous new programs and redesigned others to attract more talented students to the art college." He also stated that "during her tenure, Chanda weathered challenges presented by a struggling economy and tension with faculty over a changing environment for academic institutions."

Metzler told KCUR that "the timing was Dr. Chanda's timing. She has a second home in Tucson and I believe she's going to retire there and pursue her art passion."

Joe Williams, a senior in sculpture, was one of the few students on campus Monday. School's not back in session until August 25. Williams said tension between the administration and faculty wasn't an issue for students, but it was noticeable.

"You could definitely tell around the faculty, that there was that kind of animosity," Williams said. "But, you know, I think as students, we were more concentrating on making art."

Brett Reif also said his focus remains on art - and on his responsibilities to his students. Reif directs the School of the Foundation Year, and he's worked at KCAI since 2002. 

"And I think that we’re going to need a leader, who understands the role of art, relative to our nation, relative to the Kansas City community and is able to help articulate those principles while raising money for the school," said Reif. "There’s been so much investment in the city in the arts, and I think the Kansas City Art Institute should be a part of that growth."

The board meets later this month to start the search committee process. A new president is expected by July 1, 2015. 

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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