Cleveland Institute of Art announces new president
High expectations await new CIA president Grafton J. Nunes
Issue date: 4/16/10 Section: News
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"I think that CIA is very excited to have him on board," said Mark Inglis, the vice president of marketing and communications at CIA. "You know, he did very well in the interview process, and he seems like the right person to lead the institution in this new era. He seems to have business acumen and the special insights that a dean would have on hiring and working with faculty members, interfacing with students, building up an entire school from scratch. I don't want to say he's a seasoned academic, but he is. He's a seasoned academic. But I wouldn't want that term to limit him."
Nunes was discovered through a nationwide search that began just over a year ago, when the Institute started to prepare for the retirement of its current president, David L. Deming. After hiring a global executive search firm to assist with the process, an internal committee was put together to meet with and interview various prospective presidents. The committee first met Nunes in the late fall of 2009, with favorable results.
"In the interviews with Mr. Nunes, I was impressed with his ability to quickly analyze and understand a question or idea, then respond with great clarity. He is a sharp individual with tremendous energy and enthusiasm," said Daniel Cuffaro, the CIA design environment chair and department head of industrial design.
Nunes also presented an impressive curriculum vitae. Besides an extensive education at the College of the Holy Cross and Columbia University where he received his B.A. and an MFA/M.Phil, respectively, his work at Emerson College as the founding dean of the School of the Arts made him an obvious choice.
Unsurprisingly, much is expected of Nunes as he prepares to replace Deming, who will leave a legacy that includes CIA's first-ever digital arts major, substantial raises in funding, the change from a five- to four-year BFA program, and a campus modernization and unification project that seeks to renovate the Joseph McCullough Center (across from Euclid Tavern) and construct a new building just west of it. But there is little doubt that Nunes will prove to be the correct choice.
"Mr. Deming had a very specific charge of realizing a new CIA campus, which is well under way," said Cuffaro. "Our next step is to create a long-term sustainable vision for CIA. Mr. Nunes's past history is a great indicator that he is up to the task. I foresee his leadership helping us elevate our profile nationally, increase enrollment and forge regional, national and international partnerships."
The history that Cuffaro mentions is a reference to Nunes's accomplishments at Emerson College, where the dean was able to breathe life into a decaying Boston neighborhood through the construction of cutting-edge facilities for the arts. There is hope that Nunes might be able to bring this kind of transformation to Cleveland, too.
"Emerson College was instrumental in transforming Boston's 'combat zone' into a thriving neighborhood," Cuffaro said. "We believe that Mr. Nunes's direct involvement in that process gives him a valuable perspective as University Circle moves forward with the Uptown project, and Cleveland begins to realize the potential of the Euclid Avenue corridor. Mr. Nunes refers to University Circle as an 'acropolis' that is unmatched in the US in terms of assets. His ideas of what is possible and his direct experiences should be leveraged by this community."
This optimism is perhaps what attracted CIA to Nunes in the first place. Though there were other qualified candidates, Cuffaro says that the finalists were judged on their potential to inspire others, and that Nunes was an easy choice in this category when his work in Boston was considered.
"He really gets it," said Inglis. "He really appreciates the opportunities for CIA within Cleveland: developing new, strategic partnerships and relationships with our neighbors in University Circle and beyond."