Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
December 2, 2019
This week in Miami, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is the official university partner of Design Miami/. The partnership includes a platform to showcase work by SCAD alumni, as well as a new Design Forum featuring conversation, collaboration, and the SCAD media suite which will host interviews, workshops, and the brand-new SCADcast.
SCAD was established in 1978 by SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace. Enrolling over 15,000 national and international students, SCAD now has campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Lacoste, and Hong Kong. The university also boasts three museums—SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film in Atlanta, and the Lacoste Admission and History Center in France.
Whitewall spoke with Wallace about SCAD’s 40-year history, its expanding academic program, as well as its ongoing commitment to its exceptional alumni—well after graduation.
WHITEWALL: SCAD recently celebrated its 40-year anniversary. What is the significance of this milestone for you?
PAULA WALLACE: The 40th anniversary of SCAD, The International University for Creative Professions, is significant because of the millions of lives the university has profoundly touched during these past four decades. In particular, the 43,000-plus SCAD alumni who daily contribute to their families, countries, and professions are directly connected to the university; their galleries, design firms, film production studios and many other businesses thrive due to their expertise.
Beyond alumni, countless others are educated and inspired thanks to our three SCAD museums that offer world-class exhibitions, workshops, and in-depth learning to everyone who wishes to partake. Thousands of art exhibitions, performances, screenings, panels, and lectures have benefited children and adults far beyond SCAD’s student body. SCAD also has a publishing division, Design Press, that creates informative and beautiful books on an array of timely topics.
The vitality of the SCAD identity is first and foremost represented by its people—professors, staff, students, alumni, and the professions SCAD serves, preparing students for careers in a positively oriented university environment. A key factor in SCAD's substantial contribution to the world is the university's constant commitment to conservation and preservation of the architectural fabric of our hometowns. SCAD has saved and revivified, beautified and repurposed millions of square feet of space in Atlanta, Hong Kong, Lacoste, and Savannah. Saving our planet is very important to us at SCAD, and the greenest building is one that is not torn down.
WW: What impact have you seen on the city of Savannah over that time?
PW: It has often been said, “SCAD saved Savannah.” Before SCAD, Lady Astor described Savannah as “a beautiful woman with a dirty face.” The charming squares, cobblestone streets, and Savannah grey brick townhouses had been left vacant as people and businesses abandoned downtown, similar to urban flight experienced in other cities. When SCAD, an accredited, nonprofit university, opened in a handsome but neglected old building on Madison Square, students found the degree programs mesmerizing and the professors both insightful and welcoming. More and more students came to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and SCAD graduates were quickly recruited by top firms around the world. The student body has grown every year, with current enrollment approaching 16,000 and placement of graduates at 99 percent.
Many new businesses—shops, restaurants, hotels—have popped up to serve students and SCAD employees as well as the 16 million tourists who visit each year now that Savannah is beautiful and vibrant. Cities around the world, from Africa to Latin America, and within the States, have invited SCAD to bring SCAD magic to their communities. They all desire the positive energy, avid volunteerism, artistic vitality, sheer beauty, and brilliant minds that distinguish SCAD. Today, SCAD has not only transformed the historic port city of Savannah but has brought its unique blend of old and new—future-oriented, technologically advanced professional preparation offered in dazzling, refurbished old buildings—to Hong Kong, Lacoste, and Atlanta.
WW: Can you tell us about SCADstory, and the experience you wanted to create?
PW: SCAD Story is a 4-D experience that directly connects students’ ambition to create with their sure knowledge that dreams can come true. SCADstory invites each person to dream the dream, to become the inventor, the architect, the artist, the maker whose creations change culture. SCADstory reminds us that our most personal desires and aptitudes, made real, lead to self-actualization, career fulfillment, and a more vibrant world for everyone. SCADstory is a living, breathing immersion in the spirit of SCAD. It’s joyful!
SCADstory is a living, breathing immersion in the spirit of SCAD. It’s joyful!Paula Wallace
WW: One of the biggest successes of SCAD is the 99 percent employment rate for alumni? To what do you attribute this?
PW: Employment of alumni in rewarding careers is the who, what, when, where, and why of SCAD. We focus intently on fulfilling the needs of our students and of the professions they enter as young creators and eventually as leaders, owners, decision-makers. We deeply research the most efficacious teaching and learning strategies as well as the expansive, forward-facing nature of subjects we teach, and we create the best learning environments, curricula, and beyond-class experiences to ensure that a SCAD education is engaging, valuable, challenging, and rewarding for our students.
We listen and we act. For example, five years ago we discerned from marketplace demand and future-think research that user experience design is an important area of expertise to offer competitive advantages to our students. SCAD—the only university to do so—partnered with Google to develop and offer a B.F.A. degree in UX. Since that time, SCAD’s UX department has blossomed as our relationship with Google has expanded, with Googlers on campus virtually year-round, teaching and posing mind-expanding real-life problems and briefs to our students. It’s a deeply rewarding partnership for Google and for SCAD.
WW: How has SCAD Art Sales helped to support alumni?
PW: SCAD is the only university that offers a professional commercial gallery service to the public that represents exclusively the work of students, alumni, and faculty, with clients including collectors and companies from Facebook to Netflix. Many hotels find their art at SCAD Art Sales. Which is to say, you’re likely to see SCAD art anywhere in the world. Next time you’re in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, look around. It’s a cathedralesque super gallery of SCAD art! We also adorn our SCAD classrooms, theaters, student dorms, event spaces, and even parking garages. For example, FORTY, the new SCAD residential tower in Midtown Atlanta, houses more than 80 original works of SCAD student and alumni art. Ask for a tour!
WW: SCAD is constantly refining and reshaping its accredited undergraduate and graduate programs. What are some recent changes and additions?
PW: Industry connectedness leads the way. Last year we listened to industry leaders at L’Oréal and introduced a B.F.A. in the Business of Beauty and Fragrance. Now SCAD is at the vanguard of a $550-million industry predicted to approach $1 trillion in the next five years. We also added degree programs in Immersive Reality and in Social Strategy and Management, both of which open huge opportunities in vast new digital landscapes. These evolutions give our students entrees into a world hungry for new stories on new platforms. Social first! We’re relevant, ever alert to needs in the post-college marketplace, and thus ensure that our students are always in demand.
WW: We would love to hear about SCADPro and why you feel it is such an important initiative?
PW: SCADPro is our design shop and innovation studio that works collaboratively with the world’s most influential brands to generate innovative business solutions. SCADpro is our in-house boutique consultancy and prototype generator that embodies the SCAD ethos of professional collaboration. Top brands bring us timely challenges, and SCAD students and faculty solve them. Quickly. Our clients seek bold new ideas, new services, new products, and new inventions. Indeed, big business craves agility. Brilliant students from all over the world work on assignments with the guidance of seasoned professors who have immediate and immense professional experience. Businesses get blue-sky thinking grounded in reason and research. We ideate and work faster than internal teams, which is why our client list includes BMW, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Disney, Google, Home Depot, Lenovo, L’Oréal, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, NASA, Procter & Gamble, Deloitte, Reebok, Samsung, and the list goes on. SCAD grads are landing top jobs at these companies.
WW: Can you tell us about SCAD’s collaboration with Design Miami/ this year?
PW: We’re deeply honored to serve as the official university partner of Design Miami/. When the preeminent art and design university collaborates with the global forum for design, everyone wins. The collaboration also provides the perfect showcase for SCAD alumni to work across all media. This year I’m most excited about our new Design Forum, a vibrant venue for conversation and collaboration among visionary artists, designers, and thought leaders. We are also launching our first-ever comprehensive, high-tech SCAD media suite to host live-streamed interviews, workshops, and podcasts including our brand-new SCADcast. The first season just launched this month!
WW: SCAD has locations in Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste. Are there any plans to expand geographically?
PW: International friendship generated by SCAD cannot be calculated. It is vast. Our students and alumni represent over 100 countries, and I find that they always love coming home to SCAD, after a brief break between terms or later to serve as alumni mentors. With gorgeous locations on three continents, plus access to excellent year-round study online through eLearning, SCAD is everywhere.
WW: What are your hopes for the next 40 years?
PW: New generations of students will invent what is yet unimagined. SCAD is purpose-built to launch their dreams to make the world a better place and to improve people’s lives—each person, each day—with meaning and care.