March 3, 2022

Expected merger with University of San Francisco

San Francisco Art Institute

Courtesy San Francisco Art Institute.

We hope that, by now, you have heard the news that the esteemed, boundary-pushing San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) is in conversations with the University of San Francisco (USF) about a merger of our programs and resources.

As our colleagues in arts education, you may not be surprised by this development. We have seen several of our peer Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design institutions merge (most recently, Pacific Northwest College of the Arts with Willamette University) or, unfortunately, close (Memphis College of Art, Oregon College of Art and Craft). There is no denying that independent, private art institutions are threatened within the current higher education landscape.

In a forward-looking gesture, USF and SFAI have signed a letter of intent to explore merging and have USF assume and uphold the responsibilities, academic integrity, and common vision of SFAI. This pending union will ensure the continuation of our school and the future contributions of our students and faculty. For over 150 years, they have come to commune, to seek mentorship, to experiment and take risks, and to sustain greater artistic and theoretical fluency. We celebrate that this will continue.

While the proposed and expected new entity, SFAI at USF, will remain in our historic landmark campus with our legendary studios and classrooms, our students will have some appealing changes with access to a larger campus and expanded academic offerings. We are now actively exploring this integration, to come to a clearer understanding of what this will mean for our students and academic programs.

To read more, see The New York Times.

Jennifer Rissler, PhD
Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs
San Francisco Art Institute
President-elect, College Art Association

About San Francisco Art Institute
Founded in 1871, SFAI is one of the country's oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in the practice and study of contemporary art. As a diverse community of working artists and scholars, SFAI provides students with a rigorous education in the arts and preparation for a life in the arts through an immersive studio environment, an integrated liberal arts and art history curriculum, and critical engagement with the world. Committed to educating artists who will shape the future of art, culture, and society, SFAI fosters creativity and original thinking in an open, experimental, and interdisciplinary context.

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