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Kansas City Art Institute Interim President Will Stay On As Its Leader

Kansas City Art Institute

It’s official: the Kansas City Art Institute’s interim president, Tony Jones, will stay on as the school’s next leader.

Jones came to Kansas City last year from Chicago, where he was chancellor and professor emeritus at the Art Institute of Chicago.

“Quite honestly, I didn’t even see Kansas City,” says Jones of his arrival. “It was dark. It was December, and then it was January, and then it was February. But suddenly the light changed. Spring came, and I realized it was a really beautiful city with great architecture, wonderful rolling hills, and right in the middle of it, this treasure, the Kansas City Art Institute, the oldest cultural institution in the city.”

Jones says he and his wife, photographer Patty Carroll, quickly fell in love with Kansas City. Under his leadership, KCAI completed an extensive renovation of the Richard J. Stern Ceramics Building, hosted a Chinese artist in residence and received a $25 million gift, the largest to date.

“I think the gift is a sort of vote of confidence. It means people believe in our mission. They believe we’re not going to stand still. We’re going to move forward,” Jones says. “We’re going to become even more relevant to contemporary students wanting to study here.”

KCAI Board of Trustees Chairman Pat McCown says that gift from the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation has helped spur other donations to the school. He says after the trustees selected Jones as interim president, he immediately went to work on behalf of the school.

“But beyond just action and plans, he was really a person that could take the faculty, the staff, the students, center them around a common vision and a common purpose and really start painting a picture of what the art institute could be,” McCown says.

Jones holds both U.S. and British citizenship. He is a trained sculptor, painter and art historian who holds the title of Commander of the British Empire, conferred by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 2003.

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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