RISD’s Maeda resigns to join Silicon Valley venture capital firm
COURTESY RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN/JESSE BURKE
RISD PRESIDENT John Maeda announced Wednesday that he will resign to accept a position with Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Maeda, who assumed the RISD presidency in 2008, said the courage and rigor displayed by RISD students inspired him to seize the new opportunity.
PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island School of Design President John Maeda announced in a video message to the RISD community on Wednesday that he will resign at the end of the fall semester to accept a position at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
During his nearly six-year tenure, RISD was ranked the No. 1 Design School in the World in Business Insider’s 2012 survey. Maeda prioritized fundraising for scholarships and academic programs, allowing nearly three-quarters of accepted freshman to receive financial aid packages in 2013 compared with one-third in 2011.
Maeda also led advocacy efforts to promote the arts both within the institute and on the national stage. In recent years, RISD has become an early adopter of new technologies, including Google Apps for Education and the media:scape collaboration tools, and also helped advance a national movement urging legislators to add Arts to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – or STEM – education agenda.
In his video announcement, Maeda said the courage and rigor displayed by RISD students inspired him to accept a position as a design partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
“I am passionate about revealing art and design’s role in innovation, and this next step represented irresistible pathways to strengthen design’s place in the digital age,” said Maeda. “At the same time, I feel privileged to have led this amazing community, and I know that I leave RISD as the best art and design school in the world and with every opportunity that it will be even better in the years to come.”
In his new role at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Maeda will lend his more than 20 years of experience in design to help the firm’s entrepreneurs incorporate design into their company cultures. He will also chair the newly created eBay Design Advisory Board, where he will report to eBay CEO John Donahoe, according to a company news release.
“President Maeda has been a visionary and passionate leader for RISD over the past six years, advancing not only our cherished, 136-year-old institution but also the role of art and design in the 21st century global economy,” said Michael Spalter, chairman of the RISD Board of Trustees. “I congratulate President Maeda on his new opportunities, and I am delighted that he will continue to be an advocate for creativity and a leader at the intersection of design, technology and business.”
Before assuming the RISD presidency in 2008, Maeda served as associate director of research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. He also has been a practicing designer since 1990, and his early work in digital-media design is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
“Maeda was transformative in allowing the Providence business community to look at the city and our assets through a different lens, and see the great potential that is here at the nexus of advanced manufacturing, design and creativity,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “Losing John is a great loss to the Providence community, but we look forward to continued partnership with RISD on efforts to grow Rhode Island's creative economy.”
The announcement of Maeda’s resignation did not include any mention of a successor, but Spalter said that the Board of Trustees “will take the appropriate next steps to ensure a smooth and orderly transition.”
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