New Board Chair, Trustees Named at ArtCenter

As part of a commitment to diversify and strengthen its governing leadership, ArtCenter College of Design has appointed Su Mathews Hale as chair of its board of trustees. Mathews Hale succeeds Robert C. Davidson Jr., who has held the position for the past 10 years and will become chair emeritus.
The board also appointed two new members, Michelle Gadsden-Williams and Ivy Ross, at its annual meeting.
“I feel incredibly lucky to have aligned myself with two thoughtful, experienced and dynamic board chairs during my time at ArtCenter — first Bob and now Su,” said Lorne Buchman, the college’s president since 2009.
Davidson has overseen the evolution of a more diverse board and student body, propelled in part by the launch of new educational programs and expansion of student services and faculty resources. With the purchase of buildings and property adjacent to ArtCenter’s South Campus, he has also presided over the renovation of new state-of-the-art learning and gathering spaces and the filing of a master development plan with the city of Pasadena. Additionally, Davidson oversaw the completion of ArtCenter’s most recent fundraising campaign, raising $124 million, the largest total in the college’s history,
Mathews Hale steps into the leadership role as the college is primed to reinforce its position in the higher education landscape, according to a statement from ArtCenter. The board’s focus of late has been on developing new revenue models to mitigate the burden of tuition dependency and thus create greater access and affordability for a diverse student population of lifelong learners. The college is also laying the groundwork for its next five-year strategic plan, building on the success of previous plans Create Change 1.0 and Create Change 2.0. Future plans, of course, will be informed by the college’s agile response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on higher education.
“I couldn’t imagine anyone better equipped to lead us into an uncertain future,” Buchman said. “Su has a bold sensibility, she’s ready to address new challenges and ensure the college is providing students with the skills and resources they need to lead with intention in a rapidly changing world.”
Mathews Hale is CEO and chief creative officer of Su Mathews Hale Design, a multidisciplinary brand strategy and design consultancy. She has worked with such clients as eBay, Samsung, Citibank, Walmart, Disney, Hawaiian Airlines, Hyatt, Taco Bell and Hershey. Mathews Hale has proven experience in nonprofit leadership and is president emeritus of design association AIGA, one of five women to hold the position in the organization’s 100-year history.
“I joined ArtCenter’s board of trustees to make a positive impact on designers at the earliest stage of their careers,” Mathews Hale said. “Serving on the board has given me the opportunity to use my voice to shape conversations on how we can prepare our students to not only learn how to create, but understand the powerful influence art and design can have on our society.
“Building a diverse student population is key to ArtCenter’s future. As chair, one way I will continue to address this is by working with Lorne Buchman and the board to prioritize the challenge of tuition dependency and how ArtCenter can create greater access and affordability.”
Davidson, the college’s chair emeritus, joined the ArtCenter board in 2004 and, beginning in 2010, served an unprecedented five terms as chair. He is the first African American to serve in this role at ArtCenter.
Gadsden-Williams has worked tirelessly at refining processes, policies and programs that support an inclusive work environment. She has more than 25 years of experience as an advocate for equality within corporate America and is a thought leader around diversity and inclusion.
Linda Hill, the board’s newly appointed vice chair, said Gadsden-Williams has been “a champion for inclusive environments and co-founded a multifaceted business [Ceiling Breakers, LLC] focused on diversity consulting, media-driven women’s empowerment initiatives and diverse entertainment investments. It’s that same know-how and skill set that will propagate the board’s efforts in these areas.”
Ross, who was ranked among Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business last year, is the vice president of hardware design at Google. With a background in metal work and jewelry design, she successfully crossed over into the business world, having held previous leadership positions at the Gap, Mattel and Art.com, among other recognizable companies.
“She is an artist and designer that brings a deep expertise in creativity and innovation — themes germane to an ArtCenter education,” said fellow trustee and ArtCenter alumnus Michael Warsaw, who nominated her. “I look forward to her ability to expand ArtCenter’s already robust connections to industry, technology and commerce.”
Founded in 1930, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. It offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts.

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