KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Oct. 22, 2015) – Less than a year into an 18-month interim position, Tony Jones has been named the 24th President of the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI).
Hired in December 2014 as the college’s Interim President, Jones’ appointment is effective immediately. He will lead KCAI through June 30, 2017, with the possibility of a contract extension.
Jones was selected by the board of trustees based on his proven leadership, strategic vision and ability to unite staff, faculty and students, while inspiring enthusiasm among all constituents for the college’s mission of preparing gifted students to transform the world creatively through art and design.
Under Jones’ leadership over the past six months, KCAI has completed a major renovation in the Richard J. Stern Ceramics Building, hosted Studio Nong, a Chinese artist residency program on campus and announced a $25 million donation to the school, believed to be one of the largest ever to an American art college. New projects include the creation of an innovative high-tech studio for 3D printing and rapid-prototyping, new studio space for the sculpture department and restoration of the historic Vanderslice Hall, the college’s administrative building, which is on the National Historic Registry – all to be completed by mid-summer 2016.
“Of the presidents I’ve served under, Tony is, by far, the most charismatic and unifying leader,” said Pat McCown, chairman of the board of trustees. “He has galvanized the staff, faculty and students. He’s been well received by the community and has built confidence with our partners.”
Trustees saw in Jones an opportunity to secure a leader who was achieving positive results, and to offer consistency and stability for students, faculty, staff and the community. His candidacy for the position was so strong that the Trustees unanimously supported Jones in this role.
“What an honor!” said President Jones. “I’m very proud to have been asked to serve the KCAI Board, our faculty and staff, and students, and to work in this great city and great college. It’s a true treasure, a place with a wonderful past, a terrific future, and great friends to help take us there.”
“We can see the result of the prosperity he brings to campus in the many contributions he’s already made in his short time here. We are excited about the future and extremely pleased to have Tony at the helm during this next chapter in the college’s 130-year history.”
Born in Great Britain, Jones is an internationally known arts administrator, broadcaster, educator, exhibition curator and historian of art, architecture and design, and a consultant on higher education and the arts. A citizen of both Britain and the United States, he was educated at Goldsmith’s College in London and the Newport College of Art in Wales as a sculptor, painter and art historian. He came to the United States for postgraduate study as a Fulbright Scholar.
He was appointed president of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in 1986, serving in that capacity until 1991, when he took a position as director of the Royal College of Art in London. He returned to SAIC in 1996 and served as president until 2012, when he was named chancellor and president-emeritus. From 1996 to 2012, he also was co-CEO of the Corporation of the Art Institute of Chicago. Among other leadership appointments, he was director of the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland.
Conferred the title Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 2003, Jones holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, six honorary doctorates and an array of international honors. He was presented with the Austrian Knight’s Cross for services to education in Europe, elected an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects and received the Distinguished Service Award of the American Lawyers for the Arts, to mention only a few. He is a former two-term national chairman of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design, a consortium of which KCAI is a member. In 2011, an historic landmark building in downtown Chicago was named Jones Hall in his honor.
Jones is widely sought as a consultant and keynote speaker on the role of the arts and education and their cultural and economic impact. In the academic arena, he has led or been a senior team member for accreditation agencies in the U.K., Finland, China, Singapore, Canada and the United States, specializing in strategic planning, program construction, faculty and facilities, operational management, board development and fundraising.
He is a recognized authority on the development of art, design and architecture in the Modern Age, most notably the work of British architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Arts & Crafts Movement, the Vienna Werkstatte, the Celtic Revival and the British chief designer for Liberty’s of London, Archibald Knox. As a curator he has created numerous exhibitions in the U.K. and U.S., as well as touring exhibitions in Japan. In addition to numerous books and articles, he has scripted and hosted several television series and radio programs for the BBC, including “Cities Under the Skin: Glasgow and Chicago” for BBC-TV Scotland and “Painting the Dragon,” a four-part series on contemporary artists for BBC-TV Wales. His book “Welsh Chapels” resulted in a major exhibition of his research into chapel culture at the National Museum, Cardiff, and two television programs.
Jones is president of the Sir James Dyson Educational Foundation in America, co-chair of the Royal College of Art Foundation and international ambassador of the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts (“Young Arts Miami”).
He is married to the distinguished American photographer Patty Carroll, and the couple is currently residing in Kansas City.
About the Kansas City Art Institute
The Kansas City Art Institute, located in Kansas City, Mo., is a private, independent four-year college of art and design awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with majors in animation, art history, ceramics, fiber, filmmaking, graphic design, illustration, interactive arts, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. KCAI also offers a post-baccalaureate program in art education, as well as certificate programs in social practice and in Asian studies for students enrolled in the B.F.A. program. KCAI hosts “Current Perspectives,” a free public lecture series; free exhibitions at its H&R Block Artspace gallery; and evening, weekend and summer classes in art, design, multimedia studies and desktop publishing for children, youth and adults. Founded in 1885, KCAI is Kansas City’s oldest arts organization. For more information, visit KCAI on the Web at www.kcai.edu.