California Institute of the Arts announce Indian American as Next President

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The Indian American educator will assume his post June 1, 2017, taking over for Steven Lavine.

Dean of the School of the Arts at Purchase College Ravi Rajan has been named the fourth president of the California Institute of the Arts, the institute announced Dec. 14 in a statement.  “I’m humbled by this opportunity, excited to be a part of this great community, and I look forward to building upon the innovative pedigree of CalArts,” said Rajan in a statement.

 “It’s impossible to think of CalArts without thinking of Steven,” Rajan added. “I’ve always been in awe of how his leadership and collaboration allowed CalArts to transform into a global arts powerhouse. It’s my hope to continue the richness that he has helped to create and to dutifully guide CalArts through its next evolutionary step.”

At Purchase College, Rajan successfully proposed and guided a $100 million capital renovation of the Art + Design division’s facilities, the first such renovation in its history.

His boundless advocacy helped strengthen the culture of philanthropy among supporters of the college, resulting in securing the largest individual donations to Purchase College since its founding, CalArts noted.

Additionally, Rajan spearheaded the creation of a new M.A. in entrepreneurship in the arts, the first graduate degree of its kind in the world, it added.

“Ravi brings the perfect combination of personal artistic commitment to interdisciplinary approaches, which is vital to CalArts, along with broad experience as an educator, and significant accomplishments as a senior administrator at Purchase College,” said Lavine. “I am thrilled he will be the person to lead CalArts into its future development as one of the great artistic and educational institutions in the world.”

Rajan was selected from a group of 500 applicants; the CalArts Board of Trustees unanimously voted for his appointment.

Rajan, the first Asian American of the institute, “shows the fiery passion for the arts that was at the core of CalArts founding,” board chair Tim Disney said in a statement. “His commitment to excellence and exploration and innovation will help continue CalArts rich legacy and unbounded future.”

A graduate of the University of Oklahoma and Yale, Rajan went on to fulfill an artistic career as well as lead students on campus.

In addition to executive roles in higher education, Rajan is also a noted collaborator in the production of art, music, theatre/dance and film/video. He is a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London and president of the Asian American Arts Alliance.

“Ravi is exceptionally well-prepared for this role and I am very excited to work together with him,” faculty trustee from The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts David Roitstein said.

“He was dynamic and energetic, and talked about diversity, student debt, and artistic experience,” added a student representative on the presidential search committee, Abigail Salling. “I think CalArts will be strong under his leadership. I’m excited to see where our school goes.”

Rajan will relocate to Los Angeles in the summer of 2017. He will be joined by his wife, Lucy Tucker Yates, a renowned opera singer, vocal and diction coach, and the couple’s two young sons, ages 3 and 7.

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