This just in: Wellington Reiter, who was appointed the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s fourth President in 2008, has resigned. He sent the following email to members of the School of the Art Institute / Art Institute of Chicago community earlier this afternoon:
Dear Members of the SAIC/AIC Community,
It has been an honor and privilege to serve the School of the Art Institute over the past two academic years and to establish rewarding relationships with all of you. It is thus with the greatest respect and deep sentiment that I inform you of my decision to step down as president of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago following graduation.
The past few weeks have been a time of deliberation for me as I contemplated the direction of my career, the needs of the School, and what we have accomplished together. As I highlighted in my most recent newsletter to the community, there are many items to celebrate at SAIC thanks to the collective effort of faculty, staff, students, and the Board of Governors. However, after much thought, I have decided to return to my ongoing work linking the fields of art, design and sustainable urbanism. These issues have always been my passion and I look forward to devoting my full attention to the creation of sustainable city models on a global basis.
Chicago is an extraordinary city and I am grateful for the experiences I have enjoyed here and within the School. I believe that SAIC is on a trajectory that will strengthen the student experience in ways that will ensure continued growth and success. I depart knowing that there is a strong and talented faculty and administration dedicated to supporting these most ambitious students as they develop into mature artists, designers, and thinkers. It is their optimism and hopefulness that certainly drives us all.
As I begin the transition to my new research efforts, a committee composed of senior administrators and faculty will work closely with the Chairman of our Board of Governors to help assure that the School’s operations will continue uninterrupted.
It has been a pleasure to contribute to this community and I wish each of you and SAIC the best in the future.
Wellington “Duke” Reiter
UPDATE: Here’s a copy of SAIC’s Official Press Release on Reiter’s resignation, via Pedro Velez/@JonesDistrict. Reiter, an architect and artist, was appointed President in 2008, after Tony Jones was appointed to the position of Chancellor of the School of the Art Institute.
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.