2018 Administrative Fellows Reports

Justin Boyd
Had a great time at the NCAA conference in Grand Rapids. The fellows met up early so I immediately had a group of friends and felt very welcomed. This warm feeling carried over for the whole conference, because there is only one agenda you really do feel included in all the goings-on and each new session brings chances to meet others and hear their stories. Hearing how other administrators have been right where you are and how they managed it was comforting and extremely valuable. Really enjoyed it and am looking forward to next year.

Bree Edwards
Hosting the NCAA conference in Grand Rapids, during ArtPrize allowed attendees to experience the city at a peak arts time of year, as well as gain a better understanding of the Kendall College local ecosystem.  It was of interest to me to better understand how Kendall College was both an incubator and partner for several local designers and non-profits that are thriving in and improving the city of Grand Rapids. 

The individual sessions allowed small groups to take deeper dives into topics such as structural challenges facing a new department chair and dean, resilience through budget cuts, being accountable to local communities and the complexities of creating safe and inclusive spaces, for everyone.

Something that stood out for me is that the NCAA conference is for artists, who are also administrators.  With the prevalence of arts administration programs, NCAA stands out as a group of professionals who keep the arts first and foremost in the work they do.

Sandra Murchison
I was so fortunate to be a part of the 2018 NCAA Fellows cohort as I was immediately swept up into this warm and embracing group.  My intention in becoming a Fellow was to try and fully absorb sage advice from those who have been able to finagle demanding careers while still accomplishing meaningful work.  Indeed, it was great to gather with leaders who have been able to meet the complexities of their jobs with words and actions that remain hopeful and positive. 

My mentor Hester Stinnett was at my side throughout the conference with a stunning sense of supreme calmness and clarity about what truly matters.  Likewise, it was so interesting to listen to the Ignite Sessions which included ambitious projects that intertwine community and art school functions.  There was a good amount of talk about what being an effective leader requires and an emphasis on social practices in artworks and administrative works.  

Grand Rapids proved to be a well-endowed, artistically interwoven small city which reminded me of the little engine that couldwith its SiTE:LAB Art Prize venue, rejuvenating Meijer Gardens and KCAD connections to the hospital, its museum and public schools.  I left NCAA feeling like my level of tenacity and fortitude for doing impactful work in the midst of daily demands was restored.  

Paige Williams
After an arduous week of meetings in March of 2018, I was driving our National Association of Art and Design (NASAD) site team leader, Jim Hopfensperger, to the airport.  Never missing an opportunity to enlighten, Jim asked if I was a member of NCAA, the “coolest organization with the coolest members”. Immediately, upon my return home, I registered. (Within moments there was a message in my inbox from Jim: “I see you joined”!)

The following summer I was thrilled to learn that I had been accepted as a fellow and that Jim Hopfensperger was to be my mentor. Anyone that knows Jim will understand my good fortune. He proceeded to mentor me immediately and we had several phone conversations. I was struggling with certain transitions from Studio Arts Chair to Academic Dean and Jim provided me with supportive guidance. He also gave me homework prior to the conference, in order to make the most of my experience. I researched and identified 10 members that I would contact, whose college programs, locations or setting might provide some insight for my own. 

I was also fortunate that my Fellows cohort planned to meet prior to the first session, so I began the conference, already knowing five other new NCAA members. We were able to connect, commiserate and support each other throughout the inspirational events. The conference was inspiring and provided numerous opportunities for discussion and collaboration. I was welcomed by every member I met and humbled by the generosity to share ideas and information. I have never been a “first timer” at a conference where there wasn’t some time spent in the corner, working up my nerve to interject myself into a conversation of, obviously, organizational veterans. 

Brooke White
This past NCAA conference in Grand Rapids, MI was a fantastic experience! As a new Chair, I found the conference to be a warm, welcoming environment where everyone I met was happy to provide their support and knowledge. One of the best things that has resulted from being an NCAA fellow has been the development of lasting relationships with so many knowledgeable people in the field. My favorite memory from the conference was being able to spend the afternoon with my mentor walking through the botanical gardens in Grand Rapids and discussing with her and several other administrators about their experiences. Individualized mentorship time like this is hard to create and I was thankful for that walk! 

Overall, I was truly inspired by the programming that Kendall College of Art and Design organized. Grand Rapids provided a fantastic backdrop to the conference theme, Transforming Communities Through Art and Design, which took place during their annual Art Prize event. Conference panels, speakers and exhibitions focused on the important role that social practice and collaboration in art education impacts the community of Grand Rapids, MI. My experiences as an NCAA Fellow continue to develop everyday and I look forward seeing everyone at the next conference in 2019!