Kendall College of Art and Design names new dean of academic affairs

Charles Wright 

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) has a new member joining its leadership team.

Effective July 15, Charles Wright, currently professor and chair of art at Western Illinois University, will join KCAD as the Dean of Academic Affairs.

“Throughout his career in the arts and in higher education he has demonstrated thoughtful and inspired leadership,” said KCAD President Leslie Bellavance, who said she was delighted he accepted the position.

“He has contributed much to the national conversation on innovation in art and design pedagogy through his service on the College Art Association’s Board of Directors and committees. He is a passionate advocate for the arts and I look forward to welcoming him to the Grand Rapids community.”

Wright brings nearly 30 years of experience in higher education to KCAD which, in addition to his classroom experience, includes curriculum and program development; accreditation evaluations and reporting; recruitment planning; facilities and equipment needs and safety; galleries and exhibitions; budget development and advancement; and human resources, according to a press release.

Prior to his position at WIU, Wright served as the chair of the department of art at Coastal Carolina University.

“KCAD and West Michigan are well known for their strong legacy of leadership in art and design,” Wright said. “I was attracted to this position by the quality and innovation of the programs at this historically significant yet forward-leaning institution, which I believe is in a unique position to drive the future of art and design education.”

“I look forward to working with the KCAD faculty, students and community partners to ensure the highest quality education and advocate for the importance of the creative arts locally, nationally and globally.”

In addition to his extensive academic and advocacy work, Mr. Wright is also an accomplished sculptor, maintaining his studio practice and exhibiting regularly across the country, according to KCAD. His work is held in the collections of Franklin Wallis and the Caldwell Arts Council of Lenoir, N.C.

Wright has his Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from Washington University and he earned his bachelor’s degree in painting and sculpture from Kent State University.

Besides the College Art Association Bellavance referenced, Wright maintains committee service and leadership roles with other national professional organizations including the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and the International Council of Fine Arts Deans, where he currently serves on the newly formed Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.

Longtime faculty member Ron Riksen has served as interim dean since July 2014. Riksen replaced Vic Liptak as interim. Liptak was appointed to the interim role in 2013 while the search for a permanent dean was being conducted.

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