Ravi S. Rajan, the dean of the School of Arts at Purchase College, State University of New York, has been named the president of the prestigious California Institute of the Arts December 13. Ravi S. Rajan, Dean of the School of the Arts at Purchase College, and a highly regarded artist whose work reaches across disciplines, has been selected as the fourth president of California Institute of the Arts.
Rajan will begin his tenure June 1, 2017, and succeed President Steven Lavine. “I’m humbled by this opportunity, excited to be a part of this great community, and I look forward to building upon the innovative pedigree of CalArts,” said Rajan.
After evaluating more than 500 applicants, Rajan was appointed in a unanimous vote by the CalArts Board of Trustees, who were advised by a committee encompassing the entire CalArts community.
Rajan will be the first Asian American president of CalArts, one of the world’s premier arts colleges. His innovative and thoughtful leadership, in addition to passion and vision for arts education, aligns with the CalArts community, said Tim Disney, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “Ravi shows the fiery passion for the arts that was at the core of CalArts founding,” continued Disney. “His commitment to excellence and exploration and innovation will help continue CalArts rich legacy and unbounded future.”
Rajan’s education included undergraduate studies at the University of Oklahoma, before going on to graduate work at Yale. He then launched into a dynamic career combining artistic practice and campus leadership. In addition to executive roles in higher education, Rajan is also a noted collaborator in the production of art, music, theatre/dance, and film/video. He is a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London, and President of the Asian American Arts Alliance.
Abigail Salling, a student representative on the presidential search committee, said Rajan was impressive during the interview process. “He was dynamic and energetic, and talked about diversity, student debt, and artistic experience. I think CalArts will be strong under his leadership. I’m excited to see where our school goes.”
David Roitstein, faculty trustee from The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, and also a member of the presidential search committee, echoed Salling’s assessment. “Ravi is exceptionally well-prepared for this role and I am very excited to work together with him.” Roitstein went on to compliment the search process, calling it “one of the highlights of my time at CalArts. It was open, diverse, and extraordinarily thorough.”
As Dean of the School of the Arts at Purchase, Rajan successfully proposed and guided a $100 million capital renovation of the Art + Design division’s facilities, the first such renovation in its history. His boundless advocacy helped strengthen the culture of philanthropy among supporters of the college, resulting in securing the largest individual donations to Purchase College since its founding. In an effort to foster change within the arts on a global scale, Rajan spearheaded the creation of a new MA in Entrepreneurship in the Arts, the first graduate degree of its kind in the world.
“Ravi brings the perfect combination of personal artistic commitment to interdisciplinary approaches, which is vital to CalArts, along with broad experience as an educator, and significant accomplishments as a senior administrator at Purchase College,” said CalArts’ President Steven Lavine. “I am thrilled he will be the person to lead CalArts into its future development as one of the great artistic and educational institutions in the world.”