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Thursday 06.09.16

« Monday links and news | Main | Construction update: Portland Japanese Garden »

PNCA's new President Don Tuski

Don Tuski PNCA's new President (Photo Mike Weymouth) this is an image Portlanders will like...

PNCA has a new president, Don Tuski, from the Maine College of Art. Tuski's record at MeCA indicates a deepening commitment to documentary studies and the largest gift he brought in was 3 million dollars, the largest in that school's history (though not huge especially by East Coast standards). He seems eager to embrace PNCA's fluid culture of design and art without a lot of barbed wire and that is a good thing as Portland's greatest asset is its opportunities for change married to being a leader in 21st century ethics.

His predecessor Tom Manley was a friend and we had some long brainstorming sessions on growth strategies for the school but Tuski has inherited some challenges. By absorbing the Museum of Contemporary Craft and recently dissolving it serious blowback has occurred. Also, the education industry wide problem of relying heavily on underpaid and under appreciated adjuncts has also caused strife but where PNCA and Portland are different is the school is expected to find a solution for this gargantuan problem (answer = endowments for teaching positions, also very rare today).

In many ways PNCA has moved very far and very quickly... leaving the school a little out of breath after its sprint across the 511 building finish line. PNCA needs to double down on its strengths and solidify its identity and culture, so as a new President in Portland Tuski will have his work cut out for him. Also, Portland is an INTERESTING city filled with unique paradoxes that outsiders, even Seattle people are not prepared for. For example, Portland balks at strong leadership while not so secretly craving it as we saw with Bruce Guenther. Manley had a kind of Zen stone soup + partner with everyone approach but PNCA needs to embark on a journey of strengthening its core strengths after a decade+ of intense growth (the alternative was death). Yet PNCA still must retain its position as Portland's most supple and "open to new ideas" institution.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 09, 2016 at 10:00 | Comments (0)


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