Jacqueline Chanda retires as president of Kansas City Art Institute

08/04/2014 3:10 PM

08/04/2014 6:42 PM

Less than four months after the Kansas City Art Institute faculty voted no confidence in the school’s president, she has retired.

Jacqueline Chanda, 64, had said in May after the faculty vote that she had no plans to leave the college. She said then that the vote was only a way to open doors to communication between her and the school’s professors.

In her letter to the institute’s board of trustees, Chanda gave no reason for her decision to retire now, said institute spokeswoman Anne Canfield.

But Steve Metzler, the chairman of the institute’s board of trustees. said he was told Chanda is retiring to Tucson, Ariz., where she has a home, and plans to continue her art. Her retirement was effective Monday.

The no-confidence vote had been taken in April among the institute’s entire assembly of 58 full-time faculty members.

Chris Chapin, a professor at the institute and the chairman of the assembly, declined to discuss the reasons for the vote of no confidence. When asked whether he thought the vote played a role in Chanda’s retirement, Chapin said, “It is my understanding that President Chanda’s retirement was her own decision.”

“The vote of no confidence was in no way a personal attack against the president, it was a professional statement,” he said. “I and the faculty have always wished her the best and continue to wish her the best. I assume this is the beginning of her next good thing.”

Chanda was the 23rd president of the art institute. She took the post in 2011, saying part of her mission would be to raise the school’s visibility.

Before coming to Kansas City, Chanda had been the academic dean of the Institute for American Universities and director of the Aix Center in Aix-en-Provence in France. She has a Ph.D. in art history from the Sorbonne University in Paris.

In a prepared statement, Metzler, called Chanda a “visionary and change agent.”

Metzler noted the importance of the recent gift of the Grand Arts Building, 1819 Grand Blvd., which Chanda and donor Margaret Silva, an alumna and philanthropist, designed to house a new master’s degree program where art students could learn skills needed to start and operate their own businesses.

Silva, an institute board member and the granddaughter of Joyce Hall, founder of Hallmark Cards Inc., transformed the former Old North Tire Co. building into the Grand Arts Building, where some “cutting-edge” contemporary art exhibits had been held.

Silva had originally planned to close the 4,000-square-foot downtown art space by 2015 but later chose to donate it to her alma mater.

“Students, faculty and the entire community will benefit from Jacqueline’s contributions to KCAI for many years,” Metzler said in his statement.

To reach Mará Rose Williams, call 816-234-4419 or send email to mdwilliams@kcstar.com.


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