Posted on Thursday, February 18, 2021

Pratt Institute Provost Kirk E. Pillow to Step Down in July 2021

Kirk E. Pillow has decided to step down as Pratt Institute provost at the end of this academic year. In July, Pillow will begin a leave for the 2021-22 academic year, after which he will join the faculty of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences as a tenured Professor. Pratt President Frances Bronet announced the news in a letter to the Pratt community on February 11.


Photo by Ron Hester Photography

Kirk E. Pillow has decided to step down as Pratt Institute provost at the end of this academic year. In July, Pillow will begin a leave for the 2021-22 academic year, after which he will join the faculty of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences as a tenured Professor. Pratt President Frances Bronet announced the news in a letter to the Pratt community on February 11.

“I will miss working closely with Kirk Pillow in his role as provost, for his wise counsel, his deep appreciation for and understanding of our faculty, students and staff, and his grace under pressure,” said President Bronet. “Kirk has been a powerful partner, one with clear vision exemplified by his leadership of the strategic plan, his full consideration of issues, and his constant even hand. He has demonstrated patience and care. He has an unparalleled understanding of action and consequence both in times that are predictable as well as during moments of extreme stress and transformation.”  

As Pratt’s chief academic officer, Pillow has guided the overall academic mission of the Institute, including program development, accreditation, and assessment, and has built a strong academic foundation. World-class deans, a vice and associate provost, and other skilled leaders have joined Pratt during his tenure, and he has been pivotal in helping to attract and retain talented faculty members.

"It has been an honor and a treat to serve as Pratt's provost for these six years,” Pillow said. “I look forward to remaining part of the Pratt community and to being in the classroom with Pratt's incredibly talented students."

Pillow joined Pratt as provost in July 2015, and has advanced the mission and goals of the Institute on many different fronts. He led the completion of the BFA curricular change in Art and Design, along with related revisions to Foundation and the General Education curriculum. He fostered interdisciplinary curricular innovation through the Pratt Integrative Courses, expansion of minors, and other initiatives. In addition, he embraced shared governance and collaboration with the Academic Senate, including a thorough revision of the by-laws in 2016 and the adoption of a fully revised Faculty Handbook in 2019. He strengthened constructive collaboration between academic leaders and the faculty Union.

Under Pillow’s leadership and advocacy, major renovations were completed to the Juliana Curran Terian Design Center and the Pratt Manhattan Center. He created the Office of Research and Strategic Partnerships, appointing its inaugural associate provost, and also established Pratt's Center for Teaching and Learning.

Pillow served as the Institute’s interim president from July 2017 until Frances Bronet became Pratt’s president in January 2018. During that transition period, he helped develop the Institute’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategic plan, which led to the appointment of Pratt's inaugural vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. Following the arrival of President Bronet, Pillow co-led the development of Pratt's Strategic Plan with Vice President for Finance and Administration Cathleen Kenny. The Strategic Plan was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2019. He has also helped guide the Institute through the challenging past year of the pandemic and upheaval, opening promising futures for academic continuity, excellence, and innovation.

Prior to joining Pratt, Pillow was the interim president of The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he also served as provost. He was chief academic officer, and later interim president, of the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C., and held faculty and administrative positions at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. A noted scholar in the field of philosophy, Pillow earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University, where he specialized in aesthetic theory. His Sublime Understanding: Aesthetic Reflection in Kant and Hegel (MIT Press, 2000) offers a theory of how people respond to works of art and find meaning in them.

Effective July 1, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Donna Heiland will serve as Pratt's interim provost for the next academic year while an international search, set to launch in Fall 2021, is conducted for the Institute’s next provost.