The Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD) Stands with HBCUs

PAFA President Joins Letter from AICAD President and Executive Director Deborah Obalil and Board Chair Elissa Tenny

Shockingly, many historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have received bomb threats this year. According to multiple reports, over 20 HBCUs were subject to a bomb scare between January 31 and February 1, the first day in the month-long celebration of Black history and heritage. While none of these threats have proved credible, harm has nevertheless been caused that we must not fail to recognize.

The member institutions of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), a nonprofit consortium of the leading specialized arts and design schools in the US and Canada, agree with Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell, who wrote clearly and directly, “These threats are despicable.” We are deeply concerned about the consequences of this disruption and intimidation for today as well as tomorrow. Immediately, many schools needed to temporarily suspend classes, sweep their facilities for explosives, and extend internal and municipal resources to increase security. Left unopposed, this bullying may disrupt the sanctity of the educational environment, intimidate those who learn, work, and live at colleges, imperil the creation of knowledge, and endanger the incubation of emergent leaders for the long term. The perpetrators’ bigoted targeting of Black institutions, people, and ideas is hateful and dangerously divisive; moreover, it is anathema to the vision AICAD member institutions have for higher education and the society everyone shares.

In 2019, we adopted the AICAD Statement of Principles on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This commitment acknowledges “that structural, systemic, historical, and intersecting forms of oppression require our ongoing attention, action, innovation, and leadership for positive change,” that “thinking and making requires the full embrace of diversity, equity and inclusion,” and our duty is to provide “learning environments and communities within which all can succeed.” Achieving this goal requires us to oppose racist threats and protect opportunities for students, particularly those from historically underrepresented groups, to thrive. It’s the right thing to do for today as well as tomorrow. As laboratories of creative expression and the built environment, arts and design schools know that a plurality of voices, variety of experiences, and full range of humanity makes for a richer culture, bolder ideas, and a better world.

Deborah Obalil
AICAD President and Executive Director    
Elissa Tenny
AICAD Board Chair, and President of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago    

Stephen Beal
President, California College of the Arts

Steven Brittan
President, Laguna College of Art and Design 

Frances Bronet
President, Pratt Institute

Lorne Buchman
President, Art Center College of Design

Melanie Corn
President, Columbus College of Art and Design   

Jean Dahlgren
President, Delaware College of Art and Design    

Daniel Doz
President, Alberta University of the Arts    

Cecelia Fitzgibbon
President, Moore College of Art and Design

Laura Freid
President, Maine College of Art and Design    

Joe Girandola
President, Art Academy of Cincinnati

Mary K Grant
President, Massachusetts College of Art and Design    

Amy Green Deines
Dean, Lesley University College of Art and Design

Charles Hirschhorn
President, Otis College of Art and Design

Samuel Hoi
President, Maryland Institute College of Art    

Tony Jones
President, Kansas City Art Institute    

Michael Molla
President, Pennsylvania College of Art and Design

Jeffrey Morin
President, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

Eric G. Pryor
President & CEO, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

David Proulx
Interim President, Rhode Island School of Design

Ravi Rajan
President, California Institute of the Arts  

Jennifer Rissler
Dean, San Francisco Art Institute

Rachel Schreiber
Executive Dean, Parsons School of Design

Sanjit Sethi
President, Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Gillian Siddal
President, Emily Carr University of Art and Design    

David Sprouls
President, New York School of Interior Design

Kurt Steinberg
President, Montserrat College of Art

Larry Thompson
President, Ringling College of Art and Design

Don Tuski
President, College for Creative Studies    

Raymond Tymas-Jones
President, Cornish College of the Arts  

Gretchen Wilkins
Interim Dean, Cranbrook Academy of Art    

David Yager
President, University of the Arts

Last Updated
March 7, 2022 - 10:16 PM

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.