Inauguration of Dr. Kurt T. Steinberg
Delegates representing colleges from all over New England, four former presidents and a founding faculty of Montserrat College of Art were present on Friday, March 29 as the college inaugurated Kurt T. Steinberg, Ed.D. as its eighth president during a ceremony at The Cabot Theatre. The processional, played by the Beverly High School Band directed by Adam Costa, included Montserrat faculty and trustees, speakers and the delegates.
The event was live-streamed as well and may be viewed at this link [Here]
Gov. Charlie Baker, State Sen. Joan Lovely, State Rep. Jerry Parisella, Beverly Mayor Michael P. Cahill all offered greetings at the start of the ceremony. Speeches of congratulations and encouragement from Montserrat were given by Senior Faculty Member and former Dean Barbara Moody, Ed.D., Aluma Amy Brown, Chelsea Sams, an alumna and faculty member; and Student Rose Sauriol. Two mentors and friends of President Steinberg, Massachusetts College of Art and Design President Emerita Kay Sloan, and Framingham State University President F. Javier Cevallos also provided remarks and the keynote was given by Artist Steve Locke, a faculty member at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
In his inaugural speech, President Kurt spelled out the need for Montserrat to break new grounds in the teaching of art and design. “The history of Montserrat does not allow for the status of playing it safe to exist,” he said. “Nor does the current higher education financial environment. We adapt because the world around us is constantly changing and we need to pivot so the next generation of creatives will break and challenge that NEXT status quo. We will be challenging the status quo. We will promote this concept through gallery shows dedicated to challenging our established point of view. We will facilitate real academic research and experimentation on our terms as an art and design college. We will diversify our making traditions on campus and through that action facilitate international dialogue dedicated to the influence of difference in ourselves as creative people.”
He said that Montserrat students need to be brave and be curious and not allow the opinions of others to stifle their ideas. He emphasized “Greatness is there for those who work hard and dream big. Montserrat College of Art is on the move and will be leading the revolution. We insist those not ready for the disruption to get out of our way. Greatness is our aspiration. Our history demands it of us. Our community of artists, designers and artist educators are ready.”
Congratulations President Kurt!
We look forward to years of your leadership!
Kurt T. Steinberg, Ed.D., President, Montserrat College of Art
Thank you to everyone that has taken the time to attend today’s transitional event for Montserrat College of Art.
I would like to start with a quote by ceramics artist Brother Thomas….
It is right to be acknowledged and gracious to acknowledge. No one does anything alone.
And so I begin by acknowledging those who continue to influence my life but were not able to be here because of their passing. I am grateful to my Mother (Patricia King), my Mother-in-Law (Elaine Cook), my Grandparents (William and Katharine Steinberg as well as Harmon Ries).
Thank you to President Javier Cevallos of Framingham State University. He has become a friend and an example of leadership. I am thankful for his presence here and in my life.
Thank you to President Emerita Kay Sloan of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. I am standing here because of your mentorship and faith in my abilities. You were the second person to show me the power of creativity.
The first person to show me that power was my wife, Sarah Steinberg. She is here with me today with my sons, Andrew and Will. I am nothing without her. My boys are proof that their mother is the rock and power in our family and we are all three deeply grateful for her eternal light.
I am also grateful to my Father, Tom Steinberg, who is here today as well. I draw strength from his lessons of life and the confidence and pride he shows in me every day. I only hope that I am in the end half as good a Father as he has been to me.
I want to also acknowledge my Grandmother, who is a great great Grandmother now, Mildred Ries-Gavenda. She was not able to physically be here but by the power of live streaming is able to watch the proceedings today. She has taught me the great lesson of perseverance and productive stubbornness. Never quit and never give up. Never let anyone tell you that you are not good enough or to give up on your goals. I continue to learn those lessons every day from you Gram.
My final thank you before I get to my message today is to Steve Locke, Professor of Art Education at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Steve….I am not going to be able to express how deeply honored I am to have you here today. It is a true blessing to have you speak to everyone. You introduced the concept of Art and Design schools supporting a creative life to me and this has stuck with me ever since. It is this and a few other themes I will cover in my remarks today.
As I begin my tenure as the 8th President of this great institution, it is important to lay out a few messages to all of you and the community of makers that constitute our world of art and design education. And so I begin that journey with you today by starting with the most important question….How does an art and design college support a creative life?
Supporting a creative life is the ethical and moral duty of every Art and Design College. The days of the starving artist are long over and those places that directly or indirectly promote this idea are doing a great disservice to all artists and designers. Supporting a creative life is more than a job…it is the education and facilitation of the creative journey. Our graduates are not sacrificing anything, but like any other graduate of a higher education institution, are thriving and searching for all the same things.
How does Montserrat help our students support a creative life?
First and Foremost, because we value creativity and ideas. Many of our students first come here misunderstood. They come here to a community that values the skills they have and asks them to do MORE with them. Montserrat has and will continue to help use these skills to develop businesses and creative futures. We build life lessons into the curriculum. We support our current students by rallying around this concept as we continue to evolve our courses of study and question our direction and purpose. We will support our graduates at every stage of life. I dedicate myself to this important endeavor of advancing a creative life. I dedicate myself to advancing the college as a leader in the development and implementation of this most noble of pursuits.
In 1970, a group of artists were witness to safe and socially detached discussions of art and design taking place in classrooms across the world. In response to this unacceptable situation they founded Montserrat College of Art. They embraced the need to experiment and disrupt the status quo in order to foster innovation and evolution of all creative disciplines. In many ways, we are at that point again. We shall re-dedicate ourselves to the founders’ vision of challenging the status quo and disruption.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described the necessity for challenging the status quo and disruption when he said the following.
One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.
Montserrat College of Art was founded by a group of artists to do exactly as Dr. King described. As we approach our 50th Anniversary, I challenge us to recommit ourselves to the ideals of challenging the status quo, staying awake, and disrupting whenever possible.
Colleges of art and design are centers of research and experimentation. Black Mountain College in the 1960s and the FLUXUS movement showed us the great influence research and experimentation have on our world and that they have a place in the halls of colleges like Montserrat.
I want to talk about disruption a little more in the context of what I see as a primary purpose of our college.
In Jo Morrison’s blog in 2013, the writer puts forth the following….
“How might Art and Design Higher Education take place when all information has been dematerialised into a distributed and networked virtual global environment?’ or, ‘what are the preferential future scenarios for Art and Design education in a world rich with intelligent and connected objects?’ (today’s students will help to design and make these possible futures).
I believe that higher education generally has become mind numbingly boring. We have created pockets of innovation and creativity and for those colleges doing that regularly I say THANK YOU!!! But….I have seen the industry of higher education playing it safe and not promoting free thinking and inquiry. Playing it safe and concentrating on general conformity has seeped into the ivy covered walls of our campuses.
The history of Montserrat does not allow for the status of playing it safe to exist. Nor does the current HE financial environment. We adapt because the world around us is constantly changing and we need to pivot so the next generation of creatives will break and challenge that NEXT status quo. We will be challenging the status quo. We will promote this concept through gallery shows dedicated to challenging our established point of view. We will facilitate real academic research and experimentation on our terms as an art and design college. We will diversify our making traditions on campus and through that action facilitate international dialogue dedicated to the influence of difference in ourselves as creative people.
At academic convocation in September, I posed a number of questions whose answers feed into the themes and ideas that I pose in a simple format to you today. I pose them to this crowd now and I hope you reflect on them and make meaning of them on your own terms. I said to that group I would reflect on them personally at this event.
Ok…here are the questions….and some of my thoughts.
Are you living the life you want to live?
Yes. I have strived for my entire higher education career to have the most possible direct impact on a student’s life and learning experience. This moment today is the culmination of that journey.
Are you living out your purpose or calling?
I have felt for some time that promoting and making sustainable the important work of educating the world’s future creative people is a calling and a higher purpose.
The following two questions I leave to you to answer for yourselves.
Are you deciding for yourself what you want?
Are you shaping your own world?
Finally…the bigger question is….
Are you shaping your world with intention? Or Are you a passenger that is allowing your choices to randomly shape your future or your present?
Creativity is stifled by fear, public opinion, and the limits placed upon us by others and/or ourselves.
I have learned to reduce my fear of the retribution of others when I know I am right and that my cause is just.
We teach this confidence every day. I have been able to see the difference between our first year students and our fourth year students. The transformation is what motivates me to come to Montserrat every day. This transformation is proof that what we do here matters so much in the lives of our students and those that they touch outside our institution.
My standing here today illustrates that perseverance in the face of opposition is important and needed more and more in today’s climate.
So we must….
Jack Gilbert a Poet and Professor used to say to his students….
Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures hidden within you?
I don’t see that as an individual responsibility and one thing I have learned is that this community helps you bring out your hidden treasures by focusing the students on how to…..
It is my honor and privilege to serve this great College and this great community as its 8th President. So many have sacrificed before me and this community has fought the biggest fight of survival. The rewards of those fights are starting to be seen now. I promise to act with intention and to always be a servant to the community. I lead this community only because the trustees, faculty and students allow me that privilege.
With that in mind, I close by thanking the trustees, faculty and students for their faith in me. I thank those that have been here through everything for your perseverance, dedication and leadership.
The best days of Montserrat are ahead of us because of the collective work of so many since our founding…especially Steven Dodge. We are so lucky to be in that situation.
We are a small college with a global reach that serves a transformational purpose in art and design education that only a small college can. No one gets lost here….and we have done the impossible and made what we do financially sustainable while establishing a curriculum that supports a creative life.
Proof of this global community in Beverly, Ma. Can be found in our current efforts in Japan, China, the Bahamas, New Zealand and India. As well as our continuing global opportunities in Japan, Italy and Spain.
The tangible example of this global education that we want to foster can be found in the efforts of Professor Jesse Kahn who facilitated four internships for art education students in China this winter session. We are proud of them and hopeful that many more experiences will start to multiply for our students.
I believe it appropriate to end with the following reflection based on what greeted me when I entered the hallways of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University as a graduate student…an excerpt from the Athenian City-State Oath….
“We will ever strive for the ideals and sacred things of the city, both alone and with many; We will unceasingly seek to quicken the sense of public duty; We will revere and obey the city’s laws; We will transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”
– From the Oath of the Athenian City-State found on the Foyer wall of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in Syracuse, NY
Art and Design changes the world every day. It makes our lives richer by challenging the status quo and disrupting our accepted point of view and understanding our surroundings. I am dedicated to this important creative education because it makes the world…..greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.
Montserrat College of Art is ready for the next transformation, the next revolution, our collective future. We will lead, we will question, we will experiment, we will critique, we will offer solutions, we will break things, and we will dream of a past, sleep in the future, envision what we want the world to be.
Greatness is there for those who work hard and dream big. Montserrat College of Art is on the move and will be leading the revolution. We insist those not ready for the disruption to get out of our way.
Greatness is our aspiration. Our history demands it of us. Our community of artists, designers and artist educators are ready.
Steve Locke, Artist, Faculty at Massachusetts College of Art & Design
Some thoughts on Kurt Steinberg and the Creative Life
I am honored to be here. Thrilled, actually. As some of you know, I know Kurt-President Steinberg-from another institution. I miss him terribly. I miss that laugh. It was hard for me, personally, that he left but when I found out he was coming here I was thrilled for him. And I am even more thrilled for you. Kurt steered my institution through one of the most difficult and fraught times in its close to 150 year history. He did it while taking flack from many constituencies at the school. He did it when his decisions were not popular and he did it when he had to manage a less than supportive group of colleagues. He stepped in when he was needed, going above and beyond what was required of him. Because of his work, the college started to right itself. And when the college started to right itself, shake off its problems, and begin to move forward again, to my ears, Kurt received the paltriest of thank yous from his naysayers. And it must be said that the groundwork he put in place, the systems he corrected, the projects he fought for and helmed, are still guiding the future of the institution that I love as much as you all love this one. I remain deeply grateful to him.
So like I said, I am very sad that I no longer get to work with him, but you must know how fortunate you are to have him here at Montserrat.
I am an artist and most of the time people do not ask us to talk-especially not in public like this. When Kurt asked to speak on his behalf I did not hesitate. Mostly because I want you to know something about being an artist that Kurt knows as well. And because Kurt knows this, it makes him uniquely qualified to lead an art college in this tense and fraught moment in our nation’s history.
Imagine for a moment that someone you love tells you that they want to become a Certified Financial Planner. They tell you that it is their passion, that they lie awake at night thinking about derivatives and how to maximize value for investors. They tell you that they have known this about themselves since they were a child and that they understand the world through equations and numbers. And because of this, they are going to a school that specializes in numbers, math, finance, accounting, and risk management.
Of course, because you love this person, you are supportive-even though you, like me, know nothing about numbers. You may have no idea what it takes to be a Certified Financial Planner, but they seem committed and happy.
Now, imagine your friend is me. And I tell you that I want to be an artist. That I want to go to art school. That I want to commit my life and my time to the study of art.
How many of you think I have made a risky choice?
When I told my mother-may the she rest in glory-that I wanted to be an artist, she said it was impractical. She asked me how I was going to make a living. She asked me how I was going to feed myself. She said I already had a degree in management why would I not do that. (My Bachelor of Science in Management got me a retail job. That was the only “management” related job I could find.) She asked me why would I do something so risky and irresponsible as become an artist?
I told my mother that I did not want to have a risk-free and responsible life. I wanted to have a creative life. And that meant I had to learn about creativity.
Since that day years ago when I decided to go back to school-to art school-I have had a creative life. And the creative life is different in the look and in the living of it. I lack for nothing. I have work that is fulfilling. I have creative colleagues. I have friends whose lives are built around creative activity. This is the life that the study of art-at a deep level-has given me. It is the kind of life that-in my opinion-only an art school can provide and it is a life that Kurt understands and values.
I knew this was going to be difficult going into it. And I think that everyone going to art school knows that they are going to have to find some way to make a living out of a creative life. For artists, this is not hard. It is harder to figure out the correct proportion of pigment to egg yolk that it is for a creative person to engage in the world of work. Creative people are an asset to any organization smart enough to hire them-and not because the “arts make you better at other subjects.” That is not true-my colleague Dr. Lois Hetland debunked that weird truism with her research years ago. The validity of the arts is not a function of how well they make you do other things. The arts are valid in their own right and they teach us specific skills, inclinations and ways of being in the world. The arts make manifest the importance of having a vision and developing the skills to carry it out.
When I got my MFA, I did not get a job as an artist. I got a job as a Secretary (we call them “admins” now, but I have always thought of myself as a secretary). I got the job because 1) I had a degree and 2) I am artist. In my interview, I told my prospective boss about my experience in learning about creativity, about how it applies to every aspect of our lives, from his Pucci tie to his Mont Blanc pen, I told him he was surrounded by objects and experiences formed for him by people like me. And that my kind of thinking-as the person who managed his daily life-would be beneficial to his organization. I got the job and a few months in, I heard my boss and his colleagues-all MBAs and finance people-debating about a mission statement. One guy said, “This says ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity.’ Do we need both? Aren’t they the same thing?” His peers all nodded. I poked my head into the conference room and said, “Honesty is a virtue; integrity implies cohesion.” “Who is that guy?” one of the MBAs said. My boss replied, “That’s the artist.”
I loved that job. I worked 4 days a week-10 hours a day and then I had three days off to be in the studio that I could afford because I had a job. That is what the creative life gave me.
I am not unique in this. Every student that goes to art school is trained to think this way and to be this way in the world. So worrying about how artists live in the world without a “practical skill set” is the kind of bias that we need to dismantle about being an artist in the world. To study creativity and to live the creative life it to act on a practical set of skills forged in the studio and the library. This is not play. To live a creative life is to think and, most importantly, to act.
Now, I love money. I love nice things. Having a creative life does not mean scarcity. It does not mean poverty. It does not mean lack. It means work-and artists are no strangers to work. It means finding a way where there is no way. It means making a path for yourself and connecting to the paths of other people like you. It means collaboration. It means solving problems in a new way-sometimes solving them in a way no one has thought of before you did it. A creative life is formed in art school. It teaches you content, context, collaboration, and community.
I tell you all of this because I want you to know that Kurt Steinberg understands the creative life. He knows that creative people have different ideas about success. He knows that creativity leads to different outcomes, different opportunities, and different ways of being in the world. Instead of treating artists like they are irresponsible moonbeams, he knows that they are engaged thinkers. He understands the openness of the creative life and the necessity for flexibility. He knows how insulting it is to an artist to make them think that their skills and education are somehow less than those of our beloved friend who earlier decided to be a Certified Financial Planner.
I cannot stress to you how vital it is at this moment to have leadership of an institution that understands the goals of a creative life. Increasingly at art schools, there are often many pressures for technocratic, “results-based” solutions, metrics, data, and any assortment of corporatist ideas of running educational institutions. “We need more business classes!” (I’m going to give you a free business class right now: Make more money that you spend. OK?) All these things, to my eye, are for one purpose: to make it impossible to justify-financially-an education in the arts. If college is so expensive, then people better be able to get jobs when they get out. This kind of thing saddens me because it means that people are starting to believe that education is simply job training. I think all this kind of talk is unjust. John Dewey was not lying when he said that “Education is not preparation for life; it is life itself.” To think otherwise is to steal people’s education from them in the name of job security. Such thinking is immoral and lethal to creative possibility.
Kurt always bets on the artist. Always. He believes in what we do and how we do it. And he knows that a deep study of creativity-whether it leads to a person becoming an artist or not-alters the circumstances of life.
In this fraught and murderous time in our nation’s history, we need people who can think, who can shape new forms, and who can decipher illusion. We need people who can be critical and compassionate. It is not enough to simply see, we need people with vision. We need thinkers who can make a way out of no way. We need people who understand the power in a point of view, and how power can change by shifting that point of view. I believe these things live in the arts-and that is one of the first reasons artists come under attack during Fascism.
You have a person, Kurt Steinberg, to lead your institution as it continues its vital work to train the creative people of today and beyond. While Kurt knows more about math than I ever will, and more about fiscal policy that I ever could, please know that he also knows deeply about what is at stake in developing a creative life.
You were so wise to choose him as your President.
F. Javier Cevallos, Ph.D., President, Framingham State University
I am honored and delighted to be speaking today as part of the celebration of Kurt Steinberg’s Inauguration as President of Monserrat College of Art. This is, indeed, a historical moment for the College as every change in leadership opens a new and exciting chapter.
I met Kurt a few years ago. I was chairing a NEASC (now NECHE) visit to a university a ways north from here. Visiting teams are carefully structured, as there are so many specific areas of expertise needed to ensure compliance with the standards. Of course, there is always a CFO, someone with the financial expertise who can decipher the mysteries of the audited financial statements, the traditional “numbers person.” Well, Kurt was our numbers person, but from the start, it was clear there was more to him than financial expertise. We could all tell he was a well-rounded educational leader.
I will be honest, the very first night of the visit Kurt and I started talking and discovered we both shared a passion for something not related to accreditation… Soccer. After sharing views on the fortunes and misfortunes of the teams in the Premier League and la Liga, the conversation moved on to other areas of interest. I was not expecting to find a true and sincere love for art in the financial expert on our team. But it certainly was there. As the visit progressed, it became quite clear that Kurt has a deep understanding of higher education. He has a keen sense of academic issues, and overall campus life.
A year later I moved back to Massachusetts to take over as President at Framingham State University, and Kurt was one of the first people to reach out to me. And it also happens that he lives in Framingham. The connection we had established the year before grew into a friendship. So I really got to know your new President. I can tell you, you are lucky to have found him. He is both a visionary and a pragmatist. He sees the big picture, but also knows the many small steps needed to get there. I will share with you an example of what I mean. There is a wonderful art museum in Framingham, the Danforth. Kurt has been on their board for a number of years. Through a series of circumstances –too long to recount here- the museum needed to merge with a larger institution. Kurt and I met about it, and decided to move forward with the idea of merging the Danforth Museum with Framingham State University. That was the vision. To turn that vision into reality was not so simple. It took over a year and a half of careful negotiations with the city, the museum board, and the university board, to make it happen. Kurt was there every step of the way. I can’t count how many meeting we had with all the town committees, town hall members, elected officials, etc. Through all these, Kurt the pragmatist kept working to achieve the vision. What started as a dream today is reality. That is the kind of leadership he brings to your college. He will make things happen.
We all know that higher education is facing significant challenges. We open the newspaper and it seems a small college is closing every day. We hear about demographic challenges in the Northeast, competition for new students is fierce. Voices of doom seem to be quoting Dante’s Inferno “lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate” (abandon all hope ye who enter). But with the right vision and leadership small colleges can also thrive. We still have the best higher education system in the world, and the diversity of institutions is why we have such a great system. The right direction, the right spark, will make a difference in the future of colleges and universities. So let’s quote Dante again, this time from Paradiso, “Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda” (a great flame follows a Small spark). Kurt has that magic spark that will bring Monserrat to higher levels of success. One more quote, in the words of the last crusader in the Indiana Jones movie, “You have chosen wisely.” Again, congratulations to the entire Monserrat family, you have found the right leader for these challenging times.
Kay Sloan, D.A, President Emerita,
Massachusetts College of Art & Design
I bring greetings and congratulations to President Steinberg and the entire Montserrat community on this occasion marking the beginning of a new presidency. I know that I offer these greetings,too, on behalf of the other members of the Association of independent Colleges of Art and Design, in which Montserrat has played a long and active role.
Montserrat has chosen wisely in selecting Kurt Steinberg as your new leader. As someone who worked closely with Kurt for many years, I know him well as a great collaborative problem-solver, a sound fiscal thinker, and a passionate advocate for students and the value of an arts education.
We are at a moment when the worth of higher education, particularly in the humanities and the arts, is under fire. It is also a moment when the very existence of small, independent colleges is being challenged and sometimes threatened. Fortunately, there are a few college presidents, like Kurt Steinberg, who are experienced and proven in their readiness to address these challenges. But they know they cannot take on these challenges alone, but rather as vision leaders in a robust community that includes board members, faculty and staff, students, and community partners.
It was always fun and interesting to work with Kurt as my partner. I found him to be a very creative guy, whether problem solving to find other colleges to create a shared venture to build a residence hall which we could not afford alone, or getting faculty members to buy into a new enrollment model or even a very tight budget!
In a broad sense, Kurt is a true artist, always ready to use his imagination to embrace fresh ideas and urge others to share their new perspectives with him. He has demonstrated again and again that he understands that artists can and must bring their special way of seeing to the most intractable issues facing our society today. He believes that the role of a college like Montserrat is to help students develop their own creativity as artists and designers, and also to teach them to use that creativity to be catalysts for a more just society and a healthier community.
I think Montserrat with Kurt at its head has a very bright future. Congratulations, President Kurt, and to the entire Montserrat community.
Rose Sauriol, Student, Class of ’21’ Montserrat College of Art
Montserrat is what you could call a “quirky place.” That’s not to say it’s a bad thing–I am incredibly grateful to this community and I can’t see myself fitting in quite so well at any other school. Where else can I take barely five minutes and have my contact, school ID, and email changed to my preferred name and pronouns without a blink? Where else could I collaborate with outside organizations to put on a show, part of which includes adults in giant fruit costumes?
Wonderful and strange things happen daily, often enough that we even have a student-run Twitter account and published book specifically based around the weird things you hear on campus. One of my favorites from this account is “Mittens are just hand sweaters,” which I have a feeling may have come from a book arts concentrator or a printmaker. The account is @artschoolquoted on Twitter in case you want to look that up later. We also had a sort of gnome takeover in the student village this year, which was well documented, with over 84 thousand reactions online. It was politely requested that it be dismantled for an admissions event but don’t worry, it went back up soon after, and the gnomes happily play in the village to this day.
When it came time to search for a new president, all of this fun and slight chaos had to be considered. This was a big deal, and as such came with a slew of questions. How could we find someone who truly fits this school? Who might be out there that could not only put up with the quirks, but actually understands and loves them? When the time came for presidential candidates to come to Montserrat, I was asked as a student leader to come talk to the candidates. I was excited because of the obvious–free danishes–but also because I love this school and I genuinely want to make it a great place for students. I was more than happy to give my time to find someone who strengthens this community, as well as our connections to the rest of the world. We met with two candidates and listened to them speak, then we asked them questions. After these conversations, we the student leaders on campus, filled out surveys and chatted as we did so. Partially because we didn’t understand all the questions if I’m being honest, but also because we were talking out what we had enjoyed about each candidate and what we were concerned about. In terms of excitement, I think we were all on the same page as to what we wanted to see.
I am happy to say that I am thrilled with the candidate who is here as our president today. Kurt answered every question in our conversations then and any conversation since, thoughtfully, respectfully, and thoroughly.
Whenever you commit to someone new, you’re trusting them to take care of you. Welcoming a new person and taking them in takes a leap of faith. A leap of faith that here, I believe is absolutely justified. From the moment he got here, Kurt jumped right in with us. He’s hosted many opportunities to get to know him such as office hours and lunchtime forums dubbed “Pizza with the President” He’s scheduled time to come in and speak with Student Voice, directly engaging with student leaders and hearing our concerns. He updates us on what he and the college are working on, and we appreciate that.
I think a moment when Kurt really won the student body over was at the beginning of the school year with an annual tradition. Without fear, or without any that we could see, Kurt willingly and excitedly participated in our Paint War. There are MANY pictures, in case you were wondering. From that moment we knew that this person was one of us and would have no problem at all fitting in here. As Kurt took a jump into the battlefield of cardboard armor, nerf swords, and flying paint colors, we knew that our leap of faith had brought us to safe shores. Since that day, Kurt has actively continued in his commitment to take care of this school. Although he has just joined us, I have already seen Kurt’s impact take hold and I know he will make us stronger as a community and shine brighter as a school. Thank you for being here Kurt, we are all so very glad to have you and I look forward to seeing what you do next. Thank you.
Chelsea Sams, Alumna, ’08, Faculty
The last time I stood on this stage, I was giving the student commencement speech at my graduation. That moment in my life was an inflection point. Behind me stretched four years cultivating my technical, conceptual, and (let’s face it) human skills. Ahead of me was all of the uncertainty of independent, professional life. Giving that speech, even as I teetered on the brink between those two phases of my life, allowed me to pause and to reflect on what I had accomplished, and what was ahead of me.
Kurt’s inauguration is providing me, is providing us with this moment to pause and reflect again. This moment, too, is an inflection point. We are celebrating Montserrat’s history, its accomplishments, its legacy. As an alumna, I feel that legacy intensely. And as a member of its faculty, I embrace that history, yet also look to the future, and the challenges and promise of new academic programs and curriculum.
Montserrat’s faculty recently did just that: we developed a new Foundation program for new incoming art and design students that honors the traditions of Montserrat, and acknowledges the changes necessary to prepare students for the challenges that will face them when they walk across this stage and go into an unknown future.
It feels appropriate that the launch of this new program coincides with the Kurt’s first year. Standing before you now I feel that we are as a community poised at an inflection point. And I also feel a great deal more confident about what the future holds now than I did when I graduated.
Amy Brown, ’05 Alumna
Thank you so much for having me here today with all of these inspiring people. It’s such an honor to help welcome Kurt as the 8th President of Montserrat College of Art.
Montserrat has changed in many ways since I was a student here in 2001. We’ve literally taken over downtown Beverly, built new facilities, expanded our programs, and helped hundreds of artists find their place in the world. After leaving Montserrat, I pursued my graduate degree and have been working as an elementary art teacher sharing my love of art with others.
When I met Kurt his genuine kindness was apparent. He cares deeply for his current students and faculty, but also for the alumni as we make our mark on the world. We spent some time talking about a Community Kindness Project that I led at my school, and Kurt said it was very much inline with his goals for Montserrat.
A few months ago a 10 year old Muslim student received some hate notes in her cubby at school. The community was understandably distraught. I saw students, parents, and staff struggling to find the words to express their feelings. As an artist, I have felt that way… and I learned from my time here at Montserrat that sometimes the solution comes without written words. Without worrying about the schedule or the curriculum, I changed all of my lesson plans for that week to focus on creating art that spreads kindness and love. My heart told me that this was more important. I wanted my students to know that their voices DO matter. My students created a hashtag, #HemenwayKindness which carried the colorful messages of peace beyond the walls of our school and into the community.
It’s easy to get lost in the process of creating artwork for yourself, hiding in a studio and losing track of time… but as Kurt and I discussed, being an artist can be so much more than that. One of my favorite things about Montserrat was how kind and accepting everyone was. I am so happy to hear that Kurt not only embraces that, but also sees the how we, as artists, can use our voices to bring about change on a larger scale.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to stand here on the same stage where I received my diploma almost 15 years ago. It’s wonderful to see that Montserrat continues to mold successful, kind and thoughtful artists that contribute to the community. Kurt, it’s an honor to officially welcome you to Montserrat today. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your special day.
Brian D. Hoefling, B.A.
President of the Yale Club of Boston, Yale University alumni representative
Robert L. Holloway Jr., J.D.
Amherst College alumni representative
Laura Blanchard Bitler, M.Ed.
Director of Advancement, Waring School
Therese Melden, B.S.
Boston University alumni representative
Bridgewater State University
Frederick W. Clark, Jr., Esq.
Nancy Bauer, Ph.D.
Dean of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University
Salem State University
John D. Keenan, J.D.
Marc Krupsky, M.S.
Boston College alumni representative
Worcester Polytechnic University
Erica Mason, B.S.
WPI alumni representative, Trustee
Dr. Ralph Lorenz, Ph.D.
Senior Associate Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts
Massachusetts College of Art & Design Maureen C. Keefe, Ed.D.
Vice President, Student Development
Smith College alumni representative
Worcester State University
Barry M. Maloney, M.P.A.
School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University
Nancy Bauer, Ph.D.
Dean of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University
Caleb A. Davis, M.F.A.
Robert Sabal, MFA
Dean, School of the Arts
Boston Architectural College
James Ryan, Ph.D.
Vice President of Enrollment Management
Janel Marie Curry, Ph.D.
Laura E. Franz, M.Des.
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Robert Totino, M.B.A.
Vice President of Finance/CFO
Dr. Richard S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Jamie Glanton Costello, Ph.D.
Connecticut College alumni representative, Trustee
Katie Barnes, Ph.D.
Fairfield University alumni representative
William Wootton, M.S.
Northern Essex Community College
Michael R. McCarthy, M.S.
Vice President of Administration and Finance
Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design
Deborah Obalil, President & Executive Director
As of March 28, 2019.