Press Releases

CalArts President Steven D. Lavine to Step Down in Spring of 2017

Lavine Will Leave Behind a 29-Year Legacy of Leadership, Creativity and Innovation

The CalArts Board of Trustees Retains Firm of Isaacson, Miller to Lead Presidential Search

Valencia, CA (June 24, 2015) - Earlier today, Tim Disney, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and Steven D. Lavine, President of CalArts, announced that Lavine will step down in May of 2017, after an unprecedented 29-year tenure. By making this announcement now, President Lavine will have two full academic years to focus on key initiatives that will serve as the capstone of his extraordinary career at CalArts. His decision also gives the Board of Trustees ample time to conduct a thorough worldwide search to find a new leader who will build on President Lavine’s legacy and chart a course for the future of the Institute.

“On behalf of the CalArts Board of Trustees, I would like to thank President Lavine for his exceptional leadership and dedication over nearly three decades,” said Disney. “His strategic and creative vision has enriched CalArts in ways few could have imagined. Under his leadership, the Institute’s annual fundraising has tripled and its endowment has grown by 476%. Major endowment gifts led to the naming of The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance and The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts. President Lavine saw a need for a CalArts presence downtown and led the effort to build the internationally renowned Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT), which opened in 2003 in the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Recognizing the need for arts education to begin at an early age, he founded CalArts’ Community Arts Partnership (CAP), an award-winning national model that brings the arts to underserved students throughout Los Angeles. He brought CalArts back from the disaster of the Northridge earthquake, raising $42 million to rebuild and reopen the campus in just eight months. Particularly important to me personally, he launched The Patty Disney Center for Life and Work, which offers innovative approaches to students and alumni making lifelong careers in the arts.”

President Lavine is a major contributor to the life of Los Angeles and the nation, having served on such national boards as the American Council and Education and Americans for the Arts and local boards including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, KCRW-FM, the Villa Aurora, Idyllwild Arts and the Visiting Committee of the J. Paul Getty Museum. He served on then Senator Barack Obama’s Arts Policy Committee as well as on National Public Radio’s Working Group on the Future. Deeply committed to civic life in Los Angeles, Dr. Lavine served on the Architectural Selection Committee for the Los Angeles Cathedral. He co-chaired the Blue Ribbon panel that led to a major ten-year investment in arts education by the Los Angeles Unified School District.  Internationally, his work in support of cultural exchange has been recognized by the Federal Republic of Germany’s highest honor, the Cross of Merit.  

Lavine said, “When I arrived in 1988, CalArts was already nationally recognized but was in fragile condition economically, administratively and creatively. Now we have a highly engaged Board of Trustees, forward looking leadership in place, stable finances and strong academic programs in all disciplines for which CalArts educates the artists of the future. We have achieved our goal of attracting a student body that reflects the breadth of American society; CalArts is now one of the most ethnically and racially diverse art schools in the United States. We also have become increasingly international, with students coming to us from forty countries. We have added innovative programs and resources in technology, as well as establishing a unique Doctor of Musical Arts degree for Performer/Composers in The Herb Alpert School of Music. The time is right for me to leave CalArts with profound belief in the necessity to maintain and strengthen this irreplaceable institution.”

President Lavine’s departure in 2017 signals the loss of another great CalArts champion in his wife Janet Sternburg. Said Disney,

“My fellow Board members and I would like to thank Janet for the immeasurable contributions she has made to CalArts.”  “Janet has been my partner, confidant and closest advisor every step of the way,” added President Lavine. “An acclaimed writer and artist, she has also given her heart, mind and soul to CalArts. Thanks to her wisdom and clear-sightedness, there is no one I would rather stand with in times of crisis and of strength.”

Lavine continued, “Looking ahead, I hope to be able to share with others what I have learned about institution building, civic engagement and creative development across the arts and also to continue my involvement with the growth of Los Angeles into an international arts center.”

In response to President Lavine’s decision to conclude his tenure in 2017, the Board of Trustees has initiated its comprehensive succession plan, retaining the highly experienced firm of Isaacson, Miller to conduct the search for the Institute’s next President. James Lovelace, Vice Chairman of the Board, and Jamie Lynton, Trustee, have been selected as co-chairs of the search committee and will partner closely with members of the CalArts community throughout the search process. Disney added, “I look forward to engaging the entire CalArts community over the next two years to celebrate President Lavine’s many achievements, as well as to find a worthy successor.”