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Kendall College names president

March 19, 2015
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Kendall College names president
Leslie Bellavance. Courtesy KCAD

Kendall College of Art and Design in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids is welcoming a woman with roughly 35 years of experience in higher education as its next president.

The college, or KCAD, which is part of Ferris State University, said today that it has named Leslie Bellavance to the role after completing a roughly year-long national search.

Bellavance will assume the office at KCAD on July 1.

Bellavance is currently serving as the dean, director of graduate programs and a professor at the School of Art and Design at Alfred University’s New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred, N.Y.

She will replace Oliver Evans, who was appointed to serve in an interim capacity in April 2014 after former president David Rosen announced his resignation last year.

The search

Upon Evans’ appointment as interim dean, a 12-member university committee and three members of the greater Grand Rapids area community conducted a national search, producing an "extraordinarily strong pool" of candidates.

Bellavance was chosen out of five final candidates who were brought to KCAD’s campus to engage with students, faculty, staff and the community.

David Eisler, president of FSU, said Bellavance’s background and skills will help advance the school and the art and design community in the state.

“She brings a national reputation, a depth of higher education experience and an appreciation for the Kendall mission of preparing students for careers and leadership positions in a wide range of art and design fields,” Eisler said.

“Cultural force”

Bellavance said KCAD has the key features of a contemporary art and design school: a curriculum promoting individualized accomplishment and involvement in the community providing relevant career-based learning experiences to students.

Bellavance said the growth of KCAD “as a school and as a cultural force” in the city is “incredibly exciting.”

Bellavance added that the “historic and continuing accomplishments” of KCAD and FSU are evidence of “a dynamic culture of achievement, excellence and forward vision.”

“The power of these accomplishments captures my imagination now and will inspire my leadership as I join this vital community,” she said.

Arts background

Previously, Bellavance has held a number of leadership positions in academia: director of graduate studies in the Department of Visual Art and interim associate dean of the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and director of James Madison University’s School of Art and Art History.

Bellavance also serves on the boards of several national art organizations: the College Art Association; Association of School of Art and Design; and National Council of Arts Administrators.

She has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wisconsin Arts Board.

Bellavance holds a B.F.A. from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and an M.F.A. from the University of Chicago with photography and drawing as her major areas of study.

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