Dr. Thomas F. Schutte
President Emeritus, Pratt Institute
Dr. Thomas F. Schutte served as the eleventh president of Pratt Institute from 1993-2017. He was named President Emeritus on July 1, 2017.
Dr. Schutte has had an extensive career in higher education spanning almost 60 years. During his 24-year tenure as Pratt’s president, the Institute became one of the largest and most competitive schools of art, design, and architecture in the world and one of the nation’s preeminent colleges.
During Dr. Schutte’s time as president of Pratt, the Institute’s operating budget reached a record high and the endowment grew, with significant funds for students’ scholarships, academic programs, and faculty. In addition, total enrollment more than doubled, growing from 2,994 to 4,688 students; the number of freshman applications also quadrupled while the acceptance rate dropped from 77 to 38 percent, attesting to the Institute’s increased desirability and selectivity; and the number of full-time faculty members increased by 35 percent, while the number of part-time faculty more than doubled.
Dr. Schutte also led extraordinary improvements to the physical plant of Pratt’s 25-acre Brooklyn campus, which are visible in beautiful grounds and buildings that were constructed and renovated during his presidency. To that end, he played a leadership role in raising funds that significantly improved the campus overall, including transformational gifts, from the creation of Stabile Hall, a residence hall that helped complete Pratt’s conversion from a commuter to a residential campus in the late 1990s; to the Juliana Curran Terian Design Center in 2007, bringing all of Pratt’s design disciplines together under one roof to promote cross-disciplinary projects and innovative design solutions and prepare students for the collaborative nature of the professional design world; and gifts such as creating the Newman Mall, the redesign of the Engineering Quadrangle, and the enhancement of Pratt’s grounds overall. Schutte also spearheaded efforts to raise funds for the renovation of the Institute’s landmarked Memorial Hall auditorium and the restoration of Higgins Hall, including the creation of the Higgins Hall Center Section—the first New York City structure designed by world-famous architect Steven Holl—to join the School of Architecture’s north and south buildings.
In 2011, he launched a major initiative to restore the 27 historic townhouses constructed on Pratt’s campus between 1901 and 1907 to create green student housing. Dr. Schutte’s enhancements to the Pratt campus also include the creation of the Pratt Sculpture Park, which was recognized as one of the 10 best college and university campus art collections in the country by Public Art Review in 2006. The entire Brooklyn campus was included in Architectural Digest’s fall 2011 list of the top 10 colleges in the country with the best architecture. Dr. Schutte also oversaw the acquisition by Pratt of land for the future growth of Pratt’s Brooklyn campus and, in the late 1990s, of an eight-story building in downtown Manhattan in the heart of Chelsea’s gallery scene, which now houses Pratt’s School of Information and the Pratt Manhattan Gallery.
In addition, under Dr. Schutte’s leadership, Pratt maintained a commitment to its neighbors that resulted in many positive changes to the economic and cultural fabric of Brooklyn, especially in the community surrounding Pratt. He is a founding member, trustee, and chair of the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project, a neighborhood collaboration that revived the portion of the avenue that runs through Clinton Hill and Fort Greene into a thriving retail district. In 2011, articles in both The New York Times and Crain’s New York highlighted Dr. Schutte’s role in revitalizing the Clinton Hill neighborhood, which the opening of Myrtle Hall in 2010 further bolstered. A 120,000-square-foot green academic and administrative building, Myrtle Hall received LEED Gold certification, the second highest ranking, from the U.S. Green Building Council, which ranks new buildings based on their overall sustainability. Myrtle Hall exemplifies Pratt’s leadership in sustainability, which includes the Institute’s commitment, spearheaded by Dr. Schutte, to integrate learning and teaching about environmentally conscious design in its classrooms and enforcing green practices in its construction, facilities, and operations.
The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce honored Dr. Schutte in 2008 at its annual awards gala for his leadership of a distinguished organization that has promoted the positive image that has made Brooklyn a desirable place to work, live, and play. That same year he received the National Arts Club Medal of Honor at the club’s 110th anniversary dinner for his role in leading Pratt Institute as one of the city’s prominent educational organizations focused on the arts.
Dr. Schutte serves as chairman of the Brooklyn Arts Council, an organization that helps to create an environment conducive to the arts by providing grants and technical assistance to artists, creative professionals, and arts organizations, and organizes free arts programming for thousands of area residents each year. He is a member of the board of advisors of the Historic District Council, a board member of the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation, and a member of the selection committee of the Byrd Hoffman Watermill Foundation.
Before coming to Pratt, Dr. Schutte served for a decade as president of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Before that, he served as president of the Philadelphia College of Art, and as assistant dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Dr. Schutte holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and geography from Valparaiso University, an M.B.A. from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Colorado. He has received honorary degrees from St. Thomas Aquinas College (Doctor of Fine Arts) and Pratt Institute (Doctor of Humane Letters).
He is an avid collector of 18th- and 19th-century antique furniture. Dr. Schutte is married to Tess Lansing Schutte. The couple has two adult sons.