San Francisco Art Institute merges with University of San Francisco

Leaders of the financially struggling San Francisco Academy of the Arts said they have formalized a plan to integrate academic activities and programs with the University of San Francisco, a private university of Jesuits, in a process they say will eventually lead to the university’s acquisition of the 150-year-old home. art school.

In a news bulletin, the art school said Wednesday that the heads of the two campuses have signed a formal letter of intent to begin the process of figuring out exactly how to merge undergraduate and graduate art programs. their. The deal has been approved by the trustees of each organization and requires a due diligence period before the acquisition takes place, the statement said.

The resulting program will be called the San Francisco Institute of the Arts at the University of San Francisco, the statement said. Under the agreement, the University of San Francisco will take over the historic buildings, film and art collections, and arts school properties. Those properties include everything on the art school’s Chestnut Street campus, where the Diego Rivera Gallery holds a valuable mural.

Officials said they hope their review will be completed in time for integration operations to begin this fall.

“After months of confrontation, negotiation, victory, strategy, gratitude, hope and excitement, we find ourselves joining another organization that recognizes the depth of our contribution and the our ideal combination,” said Lonnie Graham, president of the board of trustees of the San Francisco Academy of the Arts in a letter posted on the school’s website. “This merger will help ensure the continuity of our school and student engagement.”

News of the pending acquisition offers a potential solution to what has passed years of financial turmoil for the Institute of the Arts, which has branded itself as one of the oldest contemporary art schools and most prestigious in the country.

Facing mountains of debt after costly expansion, falling enrollment and challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the school, which has already seen the likes of Ansel Adams, Kathryn Bigelow , Annie Leibovitz and Mark Rothko teach and learn within its walls – classes are suspended, students are stopped and facing the prospect of closing in 2020.

The University of California’s Board of Trustees helped save the school when it came in buy it $19.7 million in debt from a private bank. But even with that help, school officials came under fire as some considered selling a favorite mural by Diego Rivera – reportedly worth $50 million – to help balance the budget.

Amid the turmoil, Pam Rorke Levy, then president of the Institute of Arts, resign in January 2021. Graham, a photographer, took over as president.

In a school press release about the upcoming merger, officials said the San Francisco Institute of the Arts and the University of San Francisco had discussions about the possibility of integrating their programs and activities “into multiple different times in the past decade”.

The evaluation phase will include a review of the finances, physical assets at the art school’s Chestnut Street campus, and the logistics surrounding the academic accreditation process, among other issues. Officials said current San Francisco Institute of the Arts students completing their degree programs at the University of San Francisco will receive the same academic services, opportunities and support as University of San Francisco students. Francisco by tradition.

In letter With the community on his campus, Paul J. Fitzgerald, president of the University of San Francisco, says that combining the efforts of the institutions during a period of accountability research “provides us with the ability to bigger to build an extraordinary, transformative, and socially equitable arts education in our liberal arts and Jesuit tradition that will benefit the Bay Area, the nation and world. ” San Francisco Art Institute merges with University of San Francisco

Fry Electronics Team

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