Ravi S. Rajan is the fourth president of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Prior to joining the Institute in 2017, he lived and worked in New York City for 18 years. A teacher and leader with a reputation for developing innovative and visionary initiatives, he held various leadership roles at Purchase College, State University of New York (SUNY Purchase), and taught students at the Norman (Oklahoma) Public Schools, the University of Oklahoma, and Yale University.
While he plays the trumpet and holds degrees in music and education from Yale and the University of Oklahoma, his professional creative practice is as an artist, producer, and director of large-scale works. He has worked collaboratively on time-based, interactive, performance, and public work, developing projects that flow across disciplines. These works engaged various publics through biennales and festivals, and have been featured by institutions in more than 20 countries and on every continent except Antarctica.
Rajan was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (UK) in 2010, has been a member of the TONY Awards Nominating Committee, was president of the Asian American Arts Alliance, and continues to serve on various boards and panels that support media, social justice, diversity, public policy, the arts, philanthropy, and education worldwide.
In his time at CalArts, he led a two-year strategic visioning process that, in 2020, established a framework that lays out a map of the work that will take the Institute into its second half-century, built on a foundation of centering the educational experience, removing barriers to access, and shaping a sustainable future for CalArts.
He is married to Lucy Tucker Yates, who works in opera as a dramaturge, conductor, librettist, Italian specialist, translator, and coach. They have two children.
(updated April 2023)
Photo credit: Rafael Hernandez/CalArts