Art Institute of Chicago Announces New President

July 11, 2008 · Print This Article

From Chicago Tribune

On Thursday, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago named Wellington Reiter, an architect and urban designer as its next president, a choice reflecting the broadened scope of its disciplines.

After considering candidates since the fall, the school selected Wellington Reiter, dean of the college of design and an architecture professor at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz., for the last five years. Before that he was an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is to start Aug. 25, four days before his 51st birthday.

Reiter will succeed Tony Jones, who has led the school for 18 years, a period of great expansion in enrollment, programs and Loop real estate for the school. Jones will become chancellor for a year and then retire.

Jones said the school sought the best candidate, not necessarily one with a design background. He said he thought Reiter would further efforts to “rebalance” a curriculum that once was weighted toward the fine arts but that now includes fashion, design and architecture, media and technology, and the humanities.

Reiter said he would try to smooth the relationship between art and design and would consider literally breaking down walls if more-open settings facilitated instruction and discourse.

The private school’s reputation has spread widely-18 percent of last fall’s 2,932 undergraduate and graduate students were from outside the U.S. But Reiter said the school needs to raise its profile in and “deepen its engagement” with Chicago.

He said he plans to introduce himself to all the design firms here. He said he met Mayor Richard Daley in April when they both spoke at a conference in Phoenix. Reiter’s topic: the 1909 Burnham Plan of Chicago.

The School of the Art Institute has about the same enrollment as the college of design at Arizona State. As that school’s dean, Reiter helped shape a major expansion of ASU’s Phoenix campus, a project transforming the downtown. He also lobbied for a $879 million bond issue passed by Phoenix voters in 2006 that allocated about $232 million to the new campus.

“That project is under way and, frankly, doesn’t need my supervision,” he said. “I am not leaving anyone in the lurch.”

ASU President Michael Crow said Reiter “has been a force within ASU and in metropolitan Phoenix. It is no wonder that other institutions have had their eye on him.”

Reiter also has worked on projects in Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Ft. Worth, Texas. He has designed public art, buildings and museum installations, and his architectural drawings are in the collections of several museums.

Reiter has architecture degrees from Tulane and Harvard Universities. He is married and has two sons, ages 20 and 17.

2 thoughts on “Art Institute of Chicago Announces New President”

  1. Silya Kiese says:

    Dear Wellington Reiter,

    SNAAP, a Survey about your school’s Alumnis experience recently asked me to comment about studying at SAIC. Thought
    you may enjoy my quote:
    Studying at The Art Institute of Chicago
    has been an exceptional innovative &
    learning experience. Prior attending SAIC I researched a number of schools,
    including the Hochschule fuer
    Bildende Kuenste in Berlin and Duesseldorf to follow my interest in
    sculpture combining Kinetic and
    Sound Art. SAIC’s great Kinetic depart-
    ment demonstrated the strongest genre-
    voice, and this were my experience at
    SAIC began. I was able to independently
    foloow my interdisciplinary interest
    in research, philosophy, kinetic-and
    sound art, and sculpture while developing a paradigm of experimental
    innovative sculptural works in process and Installations in my spacious studio
    on campus. Professor Steve Waldeck’s
    (founder of SAIC’s Kinetic sculpture
    department) collaboration, excellent
    advise & lectures correlated with
    his unique visual diagram blackboard-
    drawings in Kinetics linked to abstract
    sculpture and light art remain an
    important and plausible resource
    whenever I begin a fresh sculpture series, or teach studio programs in
    sculpture to students at The Art Students League of New York.

    Sincerely & Creative 2009!
    Silya Kiese
    Alumni, 1988

  2. Phil Manker says:

    Nice to see that Wellington is running the school I used to attend! I learned a lot from painting onsite at the great Field Museum. I admire his work, and am still taken by the great “History of New Orleans” monumental (32″H x 17’W) ink on paper work of his that I own. Take a look:

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