Failed merger attempt kills San Francisco Art Institute

The San Francisco Art Institute will no longer offer any courses or degrees after an attempt to merge with the University of San Francisco failed.

The institute has struggled financially since 2020, when it was engaged in other merger talks with local institutions, including the University of San Francisco, which announced in February that it had “signed a letter of intent to explore integrated operations and academic programs.” in the arts to raise up the next generation of artists.”

The Reverend Paul Fitzgerald, the university’s president, wrote at the time: “Our shared goal is for the undergraduate and graduate art programs at both institutions to come together and create a world-class art education program – unique in higher education – that will benefit our students through newly developed and collaborative opportunities.”

But the university announced last week that “after five months of extensive exploration and discussion about a possible integration of undergraduate and graduate art education programs, the University of San Francisco has informed the San Francisco Art Institute that an integration of A complete merger of the two universities is not feasible due to financial and other considerations.”

Father Fitzgerald added: “We had hoped for and invested in an enhanced outcome at the end of due diligence and after many months of excellent collaboration between faculty and staff. Today, in line with the university’s strategic initiatives and priorities, the university remains committed to expanding and growing its arts program.”

The university announced that it will hire its own arts faculty to one-year appointments in a new fine arts program.

“Depending on the completion of new program development, accreditation and registration, these one-year appointments may be expanded to multi-year positions, and additional new positions may be offered beginning in fall 2023 and beyond,” the university said. The university hopes to launch an MFA program in fall 2023 and a BFA in fall 2024.

The university’s decision was the final straw for the art institute.

“Since the layoffs, expulsion proceedings, and perceived closure in March 2020, SFAI has educated and graduated 175 students while fighting for financial stability,” a statement from the institute said. “After many years of austerity measures, challenging fundraising campaigns and various internal and external merger and acquisition negotiations by a dedicated board and administration, SFAI is no longer financially viable and has discontinued its degree programs since 15 July 2022. SFAI will remain a non-profit organization to protect its name, archives and legacy.”

The statement added, “As of July 16, 2022, no students or employees will fill SFAI’s historic historic campus, a beautiful and unique place in San Francisco with its glorious Diego Rivera fresco, great views of the city and Italian-his meetings- The 60s-The architecture of brutalism. Instead, some contractors will manage security, regulatory, legal and financial issues and ensure that students and alumni have access to their academic records.”

As for the Diego Rivera fresco, the statement added, “SFAI owns the Diego Rivera fresco on the Chestnut Street campus. The University of California owns the building. SFAI will lose possession of the frescoes if it is not given or loses the building lease. SFAI is actively working with local and international donor communities to protect the fresco.”

Another failed merger

This latest failed merger follows the termination of plans to merge between Saint Leo University and Marymount University California. In April, two days after the two institutions canceled their plans to merge, Marymount California announced it would close in August.

“Like other small, tuition-dependent schools, MCU has struggled financially in recent years in the face of declining enrollment, rising costs and a pandemic, which university leaders acknowledged put them in a position to not had the necessary resources to support the operation of the institution. expenses”, said in an announcement from the university.

The merger was canceled because the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Saint Leo’s accreditor, rejected the plan. Saint Leo is located in Florida.

Jeffrey D. Senese resigned as president of Saint Leo, without explanation, this month.

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