A failed merger attempt kills the San Francisco Art Institute

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

The institute has been struggling financially since 2020, when it was in merger talks with other local institutions, including the University of San Francisco, which announced in February that it had “signed a letter of intent to explore integrating operations and academic programs into the arts to raise 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 the two institutions to come together and create a world-class arts education program—unique in higher education—that will benefit our students through new opportunities for cooperation”.

But last week, the university announced that “after five months of intensive research and discussion about the possible integration of undergraduate and graduate arts education programs, the University of San Francisco has informed the San Francisco Art Institute that a full integration of the two universities is not possible financially and otherwise considerations”.

Father Fitzgerald added: “We hoped and invested in a wider outcome after due diligence was completed 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 developing its arts program.”

The university has announced that it will independently hire art teachers for one-year positions in a new fine arts program.

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

The decision of the university was the last straw for the art institute.

“Since the layoffs, foreclosure lawsuits, and anticipated closure in March 2020, SFAI has trained and graduated 175 students while struggling to remain financially stable,” the institute said in a statement. “After years of austerity measures, complex fundraising campaigns and various M&A negotiations conducted by a dedicated board and administration, SFAI is no longer financially viable and has ceased its training programs effective July 15, 2022. SFAI will remain. non-profit organization to protect its name, archives and heritage”.

The statement added: “As of July 16, 2022, there will be no students or staff filling SFAI’s historic campus, a beautiful and unique place in San Francisco with its famous Diego Rivera mural, great views of the city and its Italian encounters. The architecture of the 60s is brutalism. Instead, multiple contractors will handle security, regulatory, legal and financial issues, as well as providing students and alumni with access to their academic records.”

Regarding the Diego Rivera mural, the statement added, “SFAI owns the Diego Rivera mural on the Chestnut Street campus. The building belongs to the University of California. SFAI will lose possession of the mural if it defaults or loses its lease on the building. SFAI is actively working with the local and international donor communities to protect the mural.”

Another failed merger

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

“Like other small, tuition-dependent schools, MCU has struggled financially in recent years due to declining enrollment, rising costs and the pandemic, which university leaders admit have left them without the resources they need to support of the institution’s operational activities. expenses,” the university said in a statement.

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

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

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