President Emeritus of the Memphis College of Art Returns to New York Institution He Helped Shape

Jeffrey D. Nesin, president emeritus of the Memphis College of Art (MCA), has been named provost of the School of Visual Arts (SVA), one of the nation’s largest colleges of art and design. Having led MCA through two decades of unprecedented growth, Nesin will return to the city where he grew up and the institution where he began his career in higher education, first as a member of the faculty and then as a member of the president’s cabinet.

“I am pleased to be able to work with Jeff again as we plan for the next decade of growth at SVA, strengthen the institutional structure, and continue to advance the faculty and curriculum,” said SVA President David Rhodes.

“At SVA I had the great privilege of working each day with faculty who were at the forefront of their fields,” said Nesin. “Nothing in education is as important as that, and it will be wonderful to be part of the SVA community again.”

Nesin, whose appointment begins July 1, succeeds Dr. Christopher J. Cyphers, who served as SVA’s provost before leaving to become president of the New York School of Interior Design in 2008.

Jeffrey D. Nesin
grew up in New York City, where he attended the Manhattan School of Music and the Bronx High School of Science. After graduation from Hobart College, he studied at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he earned advanced degrees in English Literature and American Studies. He joined the faculty at SVA in 1974, teaching in the Department of Humanities and Sciences, and then served as advisor in the BFA Fine Arts Department. In 1982 he was appointed assistant to the president, a post he held simultaneously with that of director of special programs and chairman of the presidential staff. Among other duties, he worked closely with President Rhodes to develop institutional and governmental relations and establish the graduate programs.

Nesin left SVA in 1991 to become president of MCA, a position he held until December 2009. During his tenure the college saw the strongest growth in its history, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, largely driven by a refocused curriculum; a rise in regional and national visibility; the largest gifts in the college’s history, effectively quadrupling the endowment; and enlarging the campus footprint from one to twenty properties, including two purpose-built art student residences and a new Downtown Graduate School, through a master plan he oversaw.

A longtime supporter of creative cooperation among art colleges, Nesin helped found the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), served on the Executive Committee for over a decade, and has overseen its New York Studio Residency Program since its inception. A steady advocate for a national art education policy and the essential role the arts play in civic life, Nesin has testified before Congress three times in recent years. Involved with accreditation throughout his career, he continues to consult internationally, most recently in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, and has served two terms on the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) Commission on Accreditation and one term as its Chair and member of the NASAD Executive Committee.

School of Visual Arts
(SVA) in New York City is an established leader and innovator in the education of artists. From its inception in 1947, the College has instituted numerous educational innovations, including the selection of professionals working in the arts and art-related fields as instructors. SVA provides an environment that nurtures creativity, inventiveness and experimentation, enabling students to develop a strong sense of identity and a clear direction of purpose.

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Photo courtesy of Combustion