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Back-to-School News Briefs

Everything you need to know about what’s happened on campus this summer.

By Featured, SAIC

Illustration by Katie Wittenberg.

Administrative Changes

Craig Barton Resigns as Provost

In an email sent to students and faculty on July 20th, President Elissa Tenney announced Craig Barton’s departure, effective immediately. It is unclear what sparked the abrupt departure of the Provost, though the email cited Craig’s desire to “pursue other professional opportunities.” At the time of publishing, an interim Provost has yet to be named.

Lisa Wainwright to be Replaced as Dean of Faculty by Martin Berger

Lisa Wainwright has stepped down as Dean of Faculty. Wainwright has been a faculty member of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) for 21 years, and will return to teaching Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the Graduate level following a one-year hiatus.

As of August 1st, Martin Berger — former Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture at the University of California Santa Cruz — will take over as Dean of Faculty. Selected by a search committee of faculty and administrators, Berger gave a presentation to the SAIC community in February where he emphasized the importance of preparing students for the workplace and working to reduce student debt.

Tiffany Holmes Resigns as Dean of Undergraduate Studies

Dean of Undergraduate Studies Tiffany Holmes left SAIC on August 10th to serve as the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Dawn Gavin, the Smith-Buonanno Director of Contemporary Practices, will serve as Interim Dean of Undergraduate Studies for two years. A search for a permanent Dean will commence during the 2019–2020 school year.

Walter Massey Transitions to New Position as President Emeritus

On June 30th, SAIC Chancellor Walter Massey retired. Massey, who served as President of SAIC from 2010 to 2016, will become SAIC’s first President Emeritus. The role, which has no formal job description, is often offered to esteemed former administrators by colleges and universities.

Massey will continue to serve as the Chairman of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization and the Board of the City Colleges of Chicago.

Melanie Emerson Named Dean of Library and Special Collections

SAIC graduate (MA 2011) Melanie Emerson returned to the school as the Dean of the Library and Special Collections on July 16. Emerson replaces Interim Library Director Holly Dankert.

The Dean of the Library and Special Collections oversees the John M. Flaxman Library, Joan Flasch Artists’ Books Collection, and the Video Data Bank.


School Sued Over Abusive Student-Faculty Relationship

A former SAIC student has filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois alleging repeated subjection to “extreme sex abuse” by former painting professor John Phillips. Alleging that SAIC could have done more to protect the student, the suit names the school along with former Dean of Faculty Lisa Wainwright, Former Director of Student Conflict Resolution Amanda DaSilva, Chief Human Resources Officer Michael Nicolai, and Chair of Faculty Beth Wright.

The suit, filed anonymously by Jane Doe, details a relationship that began when Phillips was appointed as Doe’s graduate painting advisor. Shortly after, the two began a sexual relationship in direct violation of SAIC’s ban on sexual relationships between students and their advisors. Doe alleges she was forced by Phillips to have sex, take alcohol and drugs that conflicted with her existing medications, and isolate herself from her family and friends.

According to Doe, the school was first made aware of her relationship with Phillips on June 20th, 2016, a day after Doe claims to have found naked photos of students on Phillips’ computer. A no-contact order was issued by SAIC on June 21st, and an investigation was opened. Phillips was fired in August of that year. Phillips repeatedly violated the no-contact order during the remainder of and after being an employee of SAIC. Doe believes that though the school was aware of the relationship, issued a no-contact order, and ultimately let Phillips go, they did not do enough to protect her from Phillips and enforce the order they issued.

Doe seeks an undetermined amount of compensatory damages for physical and emotional distress, all academic benefits she would have received had she continued to study at SAIC without the influence of the relationship, and compensation for all tuition and housing payments made to the school, amongst other things.

It should be noted that the information available to F Newsmagazine at the time of publishing includes only Jane Doe’s filing; response to the lawsuit from SAIC has not yet been made available or reviewed.


F Newsmagazine Begins it’s 35th Year of Operation

F Newsmagazine — founded in 1984 as a lab course collaboration between the Visual Communications and Liberal Arts departments — begins it’s 35th year in circulation this fall. F has long been an outlet for students to discuss issues both inside and outside of the institution, and strives to educate students on the practices of modern news publications. F’s print edition is distributed outside the school at venues frequented by artists and college-age youth.

Read mostly in Chicago, the web edition, with far more content than the print edition, has over 10,000 unique visitors each month. Both the print and web editions have won recognition from major college journalism contests; beginning in 1993, F has often won the Pacemaker Award from the Associated Collegiate Press and Newspaper Association of America, and Best Design from the Student Society for News Design, as well as many individual awards for its designers and writers. Paul Elitzik, F’s Staff Advisor, has been serving in his position since the second semester of F’s existence.

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