The Minneapolis College of Art and Design has hired artist, curator and university administrator Sanjit Sethi to serve as its next president.
Sethi, who now leads George Washington University's Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, will take over the 800-student private nonprofit Minneapolis institution in July. The college said a key goal for Sethi will be to make the campus more diverse and inclusive at a time of record enrollment. He said empathy born out of engagement with a range of perspectives is deeply tied to creativity and innovation.
"Institutions in higher education are only as strong as they are diverse," Sethi said in an interview. "Any institution should take a long hard look at systems and practices that might have inadvertently perpetuated racial, cultural and gender stereotypes."
Sethi will replace interim President Karen Wirth, who stepped in last fall after the departure of Jay Coogan, the 133-year-old college's leader for nine years.
"Sanjit Sethi has dedicated himself to art and design education with the belief that innovation, diversity and a global perspective are key to vibrant creative communities," said Greg Heinemann, MCAD's board chairman, in a statement.
Students of color make up slightly more than a quarter of MCAD's student body. Tuition and fees cost $39,210 a year, but all students receive some form of financial aid, according to the college.
Sethi said he was drawn to MCAD's close-knit campus and alumni community and a lively Twin Cities art scene.
"For me, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said.
The college touted Sethi's tenure at the Corcoran School, where he launched new programs such as a master of arts in interaction design and a master of fine art in social practices and public policy. He also oversaw a $47.5 million renovation of the school's historic Flagg Building.
Previously, Sethi led the MFA program at the Memphis College of Art, the Center for Art and Public Life at the California College of the Arts and the Santa Fe Art Institute. As an artist, he has worked in a variety of media and is now completing a series of paintings and drawings.
He acknowledged juggling work on his art and his duties as a campus administrator is challenging: "I spend a bit less time in the studio than I'd like."