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Welcome everyone. I am so honored to be here to give you my 2nd update on the State of the Institute. Thank you so much for being here. And as a preemptive appreciation – thank you to the dozens of people I have left out. I know you have to evenly have something to say about all your children, but I guess I may need some help…

I have to say—it continues to be an amazing time to be part of Pratt, and I am confident the momentum will only keep growing. Once again, we received more applications for first year admission and graduate applications than ever before in Pratt’s history. And this makes perfect sense. You have made Pratt one of the top higher education institutions for art and design in the world.

The energy now is high—our rising students, seniors’, and graduate students’ incredible ideas and dedication to craft and process, to critical analysis and implementation are on full display in culminating demonstrations, reviews and exhibitions.

Coupled with the research open house which drew almost 700 visitors—seeing the breadth and depth of our work is profound.  

As we build the next stage of the strategic plan for 2019 PLUS, we will continue to fulfill the founder’s vision of an institution of higher education that serves people from all walks of life. Many of you here have been central to the development of this strategic plan and for that I thank you.  

During the evolution of the plan, I have been moved and inspired. Our strategic plan at Pratt identifies that “society is increasingly asking for remarkable and ever more complex tools through which we can perceive, interpret, and act upon the world in which we live. The problems we confront individually and collectively challenge us as never before.

We should be involved with some of the most difficult and challenging questions of the day: the pressing reality of growing inequality in our society; questions about the sustainability of the planet, about our food and water supplies, about how we plan our cities, solve transportation problems, share information… These issues cannot be tackled through any one discipline, department, or even institution.” Rather, they demand curiosity that finds intersections across subject areas, and leads to the creation and exploration of emerging fields with new kinds of agency and impact. “It is in this kind of connection that world-class learning and practice take place, that visionary research and creative work advance, and that all of us become partners in imagining the future.” How we budget our time, our resources, our space, our imagination will reflect these values and priorities.

So, as we address the critical questions for Pratt, for higher education, for the world around us, we must understand the larger context in which we sit. We will build our project so that students, alumni and citizens see our value and impact—creating a foundation of trust; where we look critically at affordability, debt, access, socio-economic mobility, the high dependence on tuition, international outreach and create proposals for, as Herbert Simon said, “taking this situation and making it a preferred one.”  

Being a seminal force in the national discussion of the value of a creative higher education, and Pratt’s specific role in its definition and transformation, is part of effective delivery of education, making commitments to support all students, continuing to work to improve graduation rates, and supporting professional development.

We are also called upon to act with generosity. Our creative ability to solve complex problems, to be excellent, can only exist with all voices. We change the landscape when we pay attention to the quality of life as well as to the beauty of environments, objects, infrastructure, composition.  

In the plan we are asked to: Build coalitions to solve our complex challenges, learn how to run institutions with empathy, bring expert knowledge to create equitable environments and policies. Move from the heroic to the allied. As Denise Scott Brown stated: “None of us will have exclusive roles. The design of cities, in truth, the design of our lives, is produced by societies.”  

As one of our friends at the Navy Yard stated: we are in a time of urgency—we need to be relentless about how we make a difference together. And the strategic plan lays out: How important is it—that what we do is engaged with our multiple communities? How important is it—that we work to influence other art and design programs for the purpose of improving art/design/social justice on a national scale? We are seeing new alliances across all our schools and departments—from agencies to community groups. And I encourage you to check in across our domains to see how your work and engagements overlap.

You will hear me say over and over—your commitment to Pratt is truly the driving force behind the Institute’s continued success, making certain that we create thriving experiences for our students, roads for curiosity and growth—and that they are prepared to meet the world with proficiency and purpose in fields that will make a difference in the world. This is a pivotal time for Pratt, and I continue to be inspired by the faculty, students and staff that share “the table.”

Thank all of you who are here.

On to the core of what has occurred in the last months; we have had another stellar year for Enrollment.

Pratt’s total enrollment for fall 18 was 4,816.

Spring 2019 enrollment is currently 4669 compared with the goal of 4509, an increase of 160 or 3.5 percent.

Fall 2019 Admissions numbers are strong with an increase of four percent for first year applications and three percent for graduate applications.

Rankings continue to be extremely important in students’ minds, both domestic and international, and Pratt’s overall rankings continue to improve, with almost all in the top ten. The QS Rankings for Art and Design in the US rank Pratt third. (Parsons, RISD, Pratt, SAIC, CMU)

The percentage of international students at Pratt is at 32%; our competitors are around 45-50% of international undergraduates; we are continuing to try to build domestic pools, particularly within the design programs. Understanding pressing demographic and political shifts are part of our planning.

Retention (first year to second) is 87%, among the highest of the AICAD schools. This is crucial to keep increasing—for many reasons—the success of our students is key.

We have implemented 14 of the 20 initiatives in the Diversity Plan for Student Recruitment and Retention, including specific high school visits, more resources allocated for support; new plans for next year include Send-offs for Accepted Students and Alumni, spring junior recruitment in New York City, and a Fly-In program for Underrepresented Students for Accepted Students Day. We are seeing some results, including the success of our own pipeline—where we accepted 14/15 of our Pratt young scholars from our Center for Art, Design, and Community Engagement K-12. This is remarkable, given our low single digits for so long.

In terms of the quality and talent of the students, Pratt’s average SAT is 1220—two tests, and the average entering GPA over 3.8.

We are also seeing some incredible demand in specific units from Fine Arts to Fashion, Film to CommD—and will analyze our successes.  

But in terms of the family incomes of our students, we are very diverse. Almost a quarter of our students are in the lowest 40% of income as opposed to 10% at RISD, thanks to the generous financial aid program we began 23 years ago and our continuing fundraising efforts, which enable us to provide additional funds in endowed scholarships to students in need to make Pratt affordable. We will be both raising more money for this, as well as examining other sources of funds.

And while we are a national and international school, 27% of undergraduates are from New York State, with most from New York City. Sixteen percent of undergraduates are from Latinx or African American groups, and our diversity plan includes goals to significantly increase that percentage. While the percentage of first year students from New York has gone down over the last few years, it is in large part a result of the increase in the numbers of New York students enrolling at the Utica campus for a lower cost. Brooklyn will see an increase in the fall of New York and underrepresented students with 107 Utica students coming as juniors. This is a key opportunity as we offer multiple pathways for success at Pratt. The Munson Williams students are as successful as our incoming first years.

Pratt’s programs are ranked in the top ten, often the top five.                                                         

Pratt students come from 48 states and 86 countries.

Undergraduate: 32% international; Graduate: 50% international

1,155 faculty  

Average student:faculty class ratio: 9:1


27% of undergraduates
19% of first-time, first-year students


53% of undergraduates
89% of first-time first year students

SAT Critical Reading: 25th percentile: 540 / 75th percentile: 630     
SAT Math: 25th percentile: 570 / 75th percentile: 700 Average SAT: 1220

Average entering GPA: 3.81 Retention rate for first-time freshmen (2017-2018): 87%


Undergraduate: 32% international Graduate: 50% international      

Enrollment by Racial/Ethnic CategoryDegree-SeekingDegree-Seeking
UndergraduateFirst-time First- year       Undergraduates
Non-resident Aliens273 (37%)1,083 (32%)
LatinX57 (8%)320 (9%)
Black or African American, non-Hispanic18 (3%)133 (4%)
White, non-Hispanic244 (33%)1,284 (38%)
American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic0 (0%)1 (0%)
Asian, non-Hispanic105 (14%)422 (13%)
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, non- Hispanic0 (0%)2 (0%)

Fall 2018 International Student Enrollment (Top 10 countries)                           

Fall ’18 Total Int’l Students1913 
India141      7.37%
Hong Kong241.25%

For Academic Affairs

Developing the strategic plan has been a central focus for many faculty and staff, students, alumni and trustees across the Institute and beyond and doing so has required huge lifts to ensure extensive visioning and discussion at many levels. Remember, the deadline for comments is April 22 for final revision and board approval in May.

Thank you all. To the leaders, Kirk and Cathy and the Senate, to the pillar chairs and to all the participants.

Since initiatives in this plan will require resources, one of the next steps will be putting in place the processes to estimate necessary resources (financial, time, people, infrastructure). Operationalizing the plan means budgeting for the life of the plan, carefully stewarding resources, and looking at sources for funding without increasing our dependence on tuition. New revenue opportunities, new enrollment, new populations, the most effective operations, new models, increased fundraising capacity and resource redistribution will be in play In order for us to achieve our ambitions and priorities will be set so that we don’t encumber our existing strengths.  

Speaking of strengths: Two accomplished deans, Tom Hanrahan, Dean of Architecture, and Andy Barnes, Dean of Arts and Sciences are stepping down this year.  Please join me in giving them a huge round of applause for their amazing work.

Now great effort has gone into conducting searches to ensure great leadership is in place as we move forward. Both searches are yielding promising candidates.

The launch of our new Center for Teaching and Learning under Director Judit Török, is providing essential resources to support pedagogical innovation and inclusive excellence, enabling Pratt to be the model for other schools of art and design, and for liberal arts and comprehensive colleges interested in creative education, as well.

Highlights already include    

  • New Faculty Support Groups and individual consultations for part-time faculty that focus on teaching and learning
  • Learning Design Conversations to clarify learning goals and alignment through integrated course design
  • Hosting national AAC&U webinars and other online presentations, followed by discussions on selected topics                 
  • Leadership in the ePortfolio project,
  • Informal classroom visits, consultations, presentations regarding inclusive pedagogy with senate, chairs and departments

Thank you to the senate and everyone for (a year’s work) on the revisions and update of the Faculty Handbook clarifying and strengthening the practices for how we work together as an academic community.  


Research and its connective tissues have become visible and celebrated under the direction of the Provost’s office and Vice Provost Allison Druin who is well into her second year here.  The Pratt community welcomed almost 700 visitors to campus on March 30th for the inaugural #PrattResearchPower Open House. Professionals came from industry, local government, non-profits, foundations, academia. Pratt alumni, board members, and the local community, including school groups, toured campus to see selected research from Pratt students, faculty, and staff representing all the schools and research centers.

The ongoing project of building out a research infrastructure of policies, practices, resources, partnerships and faculty leadership took great strides this year. Emerging and very active research groups on campus are part of The 18th Street Pratt Research Accelerator – a hub for creative research practice.

Our 2018-2019 SeedGrant Recipients are thriving and Research Workshops on best methods for communicating research, structuring proposals, targeting outside resources for funding, and intellectual property disclosure have been conducted in all of the five Schools and Foundations. Our faculty have been leading sessions nationally and internationally on their great accomplishments.

We are building partnerships every day with organizations that range from the Library of Congress to WeWork to the MAD Workshop Foundation. Leveraging our research capacity, our outreach, our commitment to shared learning – is epitomized by our partnerships with The Brooklyn Navy Yard Steam Center connecting the Robotics lab and eight regional high schools.  

This year the Academic Senate established the Research Recognition Awards, similar to the Distinguished Teaching Award. Interior Design Professor Deborah Schneiderman won the inaugural award.  

Appointments and Searches

  • We welcome Amanda Diaz as the new Director of the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), which supports Pratt students from New York State who would otherwise be unable to attend the Institute.
  • We welcome Luke Phillips as Registrar as well as Osundwa Wanjera, Pratt’s new Director of Institutional Research.

Following a successful pilot last spring, the Institute shifted all course evaluations online in fall 2018, and the results were excellent. The overall response rate of 65.44% (including responses for Continuing Education) was strong and we expect it to get stronger.

We will have at our disposal far more data about course-level student engagement and satisfaction than ever before. This round, we learned that:       

  • 94% of students agreed that course content was consistent with the syllabus
  • 90% of students agreed that course difficulty was appropriate
  • 91% of students felt that the quantity of assigned work was appropriate to the goals of the course
  • 95% of students reported that their instructors knew their subject matter thoroughly

Please do not take this for granted. This is the first institution where I have seen this level of engagement and satisfaction. The data will be very useful in helping us understand how well we are serving our students and where we wish to focus energy going forward.


Rankings and Awards: The Bachelor of Architecture program was ranked 7th in the nation and Graduate Architecture was ranked 17th by Design Intelligence. Two Bachelor of Architecture students received the highly recognized Allwork and Architecture Foundation scholarships from the New York Chapter of the AIA. The IDC Foundation also awarded $500,000 to the school to create a full-scale prototyping lab focusing on pre-fabricated and sustainable construction systems with a special emphasis on affordable housing.

Funded research projects included a NYSERDA grant to the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment and a grant from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy to the Urban Placemaking program.

As we think about new and enhanced models that reflect our commitment to our students’ access, success and trajectories –

  1. Four graduate and undergraduate programs in architecture and urban design now have federal STEM classifications, allowing international graduates to receive up to three- year work visas (Optional Practical Training – OPT). Other disciplines from City and Regional Planning to Industrial Design are seeking STEM classification.  Why is this important?  Under OPT program, international students in STEM fields who graduate from U.S. colleges and universities can remain in the U.S. to receive training and work experience for up to 12 months or an additional 17 months on OPT STEM extension
  2. Facilities Management received final New York State approval to reduce required curricular credits to 36 (down from 45), allowing students to matriculate and graduate in a single calendar year. This applies to entering fall 2019 students.  
  3. We continue to develop Scholarship funds for students in need who have demonstrated high academic achievement and design excellence in their studio projects, as well as merit and travel scholarships. This carries into all our disciplines and deans are helping lead this with Institutional Advancement.

And just so you know the significant players that come out of our programs – B. Arch alum Mitchell Silver, New York City Parks Commissioner, was given an achievement award by the NYC AIA. As part of his award, he was given the opportunity to assign an AIA scholarship which he gave it to B. Arch student Alejandra Sanchez.                    


The Photography Department launched re/GENERATE, an outdoor exhibition centered in the heart of Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn campus featuring the work of graduating spring 2019 Photography seniors.                                          

Photography and Fine Arts are hosting more than 100 thesis exhibitions every Monday between February and May in the Photography Gallery in the ARC, East Gallery, Schafler, DeKalb and Steuben Galleries. Mondays@Pratt – you want to be here – last night was a blast                           

  • Catalyst, the magazine of the Arts and Cultural Management/Design Management programs has been redesigned as a digital platform, presenting applied research and education projects.                                                                                                             
  • In tandem with the roll-out of the new BFA and MA in Art and Design Education, expanded partnerships with local New York City public schools mean that our students are spending more time in the schools than they did in the past. Art and design teachers are based in 40 elementary, middle and high schools.  Three of these high schools are located in Brooklyn, and are consistent feeders to our Young Scholars Program.                                                               
  • The department of Creative Arts Therapy again co-hosted the International conference “Expressive Therapies Summit”. The work is a critical part of our outreach and includes workshops and presentations on dance/movement therapy work and trauma treatment for children with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).


In the 2018 Animation School Rankings, Pratt’s Department of Digital Arts ranked #5 nationally (top 3%); #5 nationally among private schools and colleges (top 4%); #2 on the East Coast; #2 in New York; #4 nationally among schools offering an Animation-related MFA; and #5 nationally among schools offering an Animation-related BFA.  We are seeing the positive outcomes with the increasing numbers of applications.

And in the FINE ARTS

Our Fine Arts department participated in the UNTITLED Art Fair in Miami in December, demonstrating our commitment to our alumni and initiating a new MFA scholarship fund. This would not have been possible without the generous support of an anonymous donor.  We had “the booth” – with everyone wanting to hang out with our team. Alum Mickalene Thomas, Derrick Adams, and LA gallery owner extraordinaire Shulamit Nazarian were present and supporting.            

Alumni participants include Derrick Adams, Mickalene Thomas, Robert Mapplethorpe, Rebecca Morgan, Polina Barskaya, Lisa Corinne Davis, Karen Heagle, Cristina de Miguel, John O’ Connor, Duke Riley, Hiba Schahbaz, Polly Shindler, Deb Willis, and many more! Works were selected by our two alumni curators, Kelly Worman and Caroline Taylor.

All proceeds from sales were equally shared between participating artists and a new MFA scholarship fund. It was a significant builder of who we are.

We relaunched Pratt Institute Editions (PIE) publishing edition multiples for our Fine Arts Department, training our students to secure work in the print publishing business. We have done a Limited Edition Print with Alum and a Collaborative print project, X-Ghost: connecting 2 artists external to community with 2 MFA alumni.

In our efforts to connect beyond the gates – so our larger communities know us as excellent partners, Fine Arts is hosting Visiting Artist Fellow Shaun Leonardo (most recently also a Guggenheim Museum Social Practice Fellow). The Project Third Fellow allows us to increase the diversity of our full-time faculty, bring social practice into our curriculum, and initiate important cross-Institute events.

  • Long Table, DeKalb Gallery  (fall 2018) Appropriated the dinner table as a public forum for informal conversations on serious topics, creating the conditions for inclusive, non-hierarchical dialogue about the Pratt community and the global community in which we live.
  • Open Exchange: Belonging, Student Union (Tonight!)

Brings together five thought leaders looking at notions of safety in their practice- Jammal Lemmy, creative director for March for Our Lives; Tom Finkelpearl, commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA); Hank Willis Thomas, conceptual artist and activist; Ana M. Bermúdez, commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation; and niv Acosta, multimedia artist and activist.

  • Project Third – Pratt Fine Arts Summer Residency for Research & Community Engagement – a 10-week summer residency program in DeKalb Gallery geared towards artists/collaborative groups whose community work is research oriented and/or motivated by the desire to instigate social change. Three linked components are: Invited Artists in Residence; aligned Fine Arts MFA summer session led by a visiting faculty member; and collaboration with internal and external partners.                                            

In Film/Video

Variety magazine listed Pratt as one of The Best Film Schools in 2018 and the Hollywood Reporter listed Pratt in The Top 25 American Film Schools of 2018. Film/Video made a firm commitment this year to work on building equity and inclusion within the department.

And in Photography

Chair Shannon Ebner has initiated a new publishing imprint called PPI (Pratt Photography Imprint aka Pounds Per Image). PPI is a research, scholarship, and practice-based publishing project that commissions artists, writers, curators, and/or other voices from the poly-vocal field to produce original material about photography.                                                                   


SCPS for the 4th consecutive year continues to experience sustained growth in both enrollment and revenue.  Revenue is currently 6% higher than last year and enrollment goals continue to be met with approximately 2,200 students served in FY17/18 (and 4,900 seats sold.)  

SCPS is strengthening its partnerships with both internal and external agencies includes the Rubin Museum, Artrepreneur, A Better New York, A Better Chance and digital marketing vendors, MoGo and Carnegie.                          


  • SCPS has a 30% increase in PreCollege students since 2016. 75 of the fall 2018 first year class (10% of the entire incoming class) attended PreCollege and PreCollege Summer 2019 has, to date, received almost 600 applications and expects approximately 400 registrations (similar to last year).
  • A new collaborative partnership has begun with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, developing a heightened awareness necessary to function in New York City.
  • SCPS is working closely with internal and external partners to award need-based student aid for the first time this summer.
  • SCPS participated, in collaboration with Pratt’s School of Art Jewelry in the first NYC Jewelry Week.
  • Programs with visibly increased enrollment this term include creative interiors to sustainable design certificates as well as Customized Programs (with international companies and student recruiting agencies) and GAUD Prep Courses (providing a bridge to the graduate programs).
  • International Double Degree Studies (IDDS) has been initiated. SCPS enrolled 25 French undergraduate students
  • SCPS continues to be one of the key enterprises looking at life-long learning and experimental models for a broad array of students

Upcoming public programs

  • Beauty and Ethics: The Art of Sustainability
  • Electrifying Color Workshop: in partnership with the Whitney Museum of American Art.


The winter exhibit in the Schafler Gallery, Multiple, Obsessed, and Meaningful: The Web of Contemporary Communications Design Practices, showcased the work of 16+ alumni (and collectives) from graduate and undergraduate Communications Design and included workshops and lectures on civic engagement in contemporary design practice.

Five juniors from the Fashion Department were selected to design a micro-collection for Zara SA International and traveled to Zara Headquarters in Spain to work with the atelier on fit and design specifications for production and manufacturing. The micro-collection will be available at specific Zara retailers and online outlets in the near future.

Industrial design students are engaged in a project this spring with a local university in Medellin, Colombia designing playgrounds for children.

The spring efforts of the Pratt Creative Xchange include a workshop based curriculum for high school students taught by Pratt graduate students in conjunction with local design and craft practitioners.

In the realm of making the invisible visible – efforts have been made to increase awareness of work undertaken in all programs in the school in a number of ways, including end-of-term reviews in central locations including the Steuben Hall first-floor lounge.

An exemplary case of ongoing interdisciplinary research, Kingston Creative Exchange, held a successful exhibition/workshop in December in Kingston, New York and is part of the Research Accelerator on 18th.

Please go see The Major, a sculpture by alumnus Kadir Nelson, in the lobby of the Design Center. Nelson’s piece commemorates Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor, also known as the Black Cyclone, who was the most dominant cyclist during the 1890s, a period when very few African Americans participated in the exceedingly popular and emerging sport. 

The School of Design welcomed alumna Ingrid Fetell Lee on Joy – and Alumnus John Cafaro, Executive Director of Global Design at GM, to develop a reinvigorated strategic partnership between the school and GM.

Desert Island Comics presented the second annual Comics Arts Brooklyn November 11 with thousands of participants.                

…. And – Welcome Jay Lemire as the first School of Design Material Research Lab Manager.                                                                                                                                                                                           

In the School of Information

School of Information students are now applying to 15 nine-month fellowships with NYC institutions: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum, Frick Art Reference Library, MoMA, Guggenheim Museum, Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Museum, New York Public Library, New York University, Brooklyn College and New York City Mayor’s Office for Data Analytics.

Welcome new faculty member –  Nancy Smith, PhD candidate in Human-Computer Interaction Design, whose research is focused on the relationship between digital technologies and climate change, including works in sustainable design, animal-computer interaction, and urban informatics. Her teaching will most directly support the M.S. in Information Experience Design program, which rolled-out new program concentrations this year.

This year, the School of Information’s Library & Information program began new core curriculum and revised program concentrations.

School of Information faculty are actively presenting internationally and are receiving awards such as Prof. Elena Villaespesa’s grant from the Arts & Humanities Research Council of the UK to examine the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence on museums.

Applications for fall 2019 admissions to School of Information programs are up 26%.                              

Planning is underway for the School of Information’s Diversifying the Curriculum Event – professional development workshop for faculty. April 11

And in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The Global South Center hosted its inaugural Goldsmiths University of London/Pratt Institute Lecture series (aka Gold-Pratt Lecture) yesterday. “Reconstruction: Researching Climates of Racialized Hostilities,” by Yasmin Gunaratnam, a Reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths.

Departments of the History of Art and Design, and Interior Design held their annual Interior Provocations symposium. “Appropriate(d) Interiors,” explored the ways interiors participate explicitly and implicitly in embedded cultural values establishing Pratt’s leadership in this cross-disciplinary investigation of space.

For its Writers Forum Reading Series, the Department of Writing welcomed the award winning author Claudia Rankin to speak about the topic of Whiteness and how it applies in institutions and in the creative fields.                                                                         

We celebrate Professor Morton’s book Max Klinger and Wilhelmine Culture: On the Threshold of German Modernism and Professor Lasc’s books, titled Architectures of Display: Department Stores and Modern Retail and Interior Decorating in Nineteenth-Century France: The Visual Culture of a New Profession. And Professor Polistena was one of a select few participants in a conference about Delacroix held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In October, the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences opened its Center for Research of Art and Design Materials in the Department of Mathematics and Science – a laboratory space that will be accessible to Pratt faculty and students to learn about the application, restoration, and degradation of art and design materials.

Turning to our PRATT LIBRARIES

With the HEOP director and counselors, the Libraries are piloting a personal librarian program. The goal of this initiative is to reduce barriers to student success through proactive and responsive provision of tailored research support.

Brooklyn Campus Library hosted a daylong Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon, led by faculty and librarians, focused on improving coverage of cis and transgender women, nonbinary and gender nonconforming artists and designers on Wikipedia                                                                                 

For another couple of days, the Brooklyn Campus Library has a major exhibit of the artist Pamela Colman Smith, renowned for illustrating the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck.                           

As part of New York Archives Week 2018, we held a film screening and archival materials presentation, “Pratt Institute Archives & Special Collections: Pratt and its Neighborhoods” including early outreach efforts in Greenpoint and urban renewal strategies in the surrounding Pratt neighborhood during the 1950s; “Restoration in Bedford Stuyvesant,” a 16mm film from the 1960s and 70s exhibit and workshop by faculty member Maria de Los Angeles, featuring the work of the activist group “We Make America”.The Libraries hosted the exhibition Library Adorned, which showcases original designs created by students and also included in  NYC Jewelry Week.

And while we are on exhibits – please go see Pratt Manhattan Gallery Design by Time, an exhibition with work from 22 international designers portraying time and its effects on fashion, furniture, textiles, vessels, and more.  It is an incredible show, look for clothes that grow underground.

In the office of Student Affairs

The renovated Student Union was ready for 2018 New Student Orientation. We also opened a student servicing center and lounge in Pratt Manhattan with a full time Student Life Coordinator with career counseling and health services for PMC students.

After seven years of planning and preparation, Pratt was accepted as a provisional member in Division III of the NCAA.

The new Emerson Place residence hall is on schedule to open in July of 2019 to house first year students.

The VPSA is leading a cross campus interdisciplinary team project aimed at creating a studio culture that promotes flourishing as a key component for excellence and rigor. The team has been working with Susan Cianciolo is piloting healthy teaching practices in the third-year fashion studio. The efforts to infuse mindfulness in student affairs practice have increased this year. After five years, there have been over 1,000 participants in the Meditation Incubator and the new Mindfulness in Student Affairs group has over 20 staff participating.

The Learning/Access Center has expanded its services and now provides tutoring and other learning support services to all students.

Pratt had three alumni and one graduate student selected as semi-finalists for the Fulbright Scholars Program.  This is really exciting.

Welcome Allison Nichols, Assistant Director for International Affairs and Judith Cadet Williams, Deputy Title IX Coordinator.

A forum led by SGA last week and attended by students and all the VPs was an important opportunity for the SGA and other student cohorts to understand how decisions are made in various departments.

Preliminary results from last year’s First Destination Employment Survey (60% response rate) indicate that 92% of the class was employed six months after graduation.

In the office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion

Nsombi B. Ricketts joined Pratt Institute in July as Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The Center for Equity and Inclusion (CEI) now reports to the DEI Office.

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Strategic Plan was updated and finalized.

Nsombi B. Ricketts and Cathleen Kenny, VP for Finance and Administration, serve as Executive Sponsors for the new Pratt Staff Council

The Bias Education Response Taskforce (BERT) was reconvened in February 2019. BERT is a group of administrators and faculty committed to fostering an inclusive campus climate by preventing and responding to bias, intolerance and/or hate incidents.

Many activities identified in the DEI strategic plan have been launched or expanded, such as a welcome reception for current and incoming Black and Latinx students in the fall, a Hispanic Heritage Month appreciation breakfast for Latinx faculty & staff, the 16th Annual LGBTQIA Student Leadership Conference, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Week at Pratt in January 2019, Design as Social Practice alumni panel, Black Dress: SalonFrom Inequality to a Just Future lecture series, Bell Bottoms and Activism: Pratt in the 1970’s alumni panel), and a Women’s Financial Empowerment Workshop for Women’s History Month, Strategic Diversity Fundraising workshop for Pratt senior leadership, The Diverse Voices Film Series, etc.

The Office is also collaborating with Health Education and Promotion to launch the Pratt Food Pantry this month to support students dealing with food insecurity.

Pratt’s Office of Communications and Marketing

—became its own division in February, under the leadership of its new vice president Jim Kempster, with a plan that maps out strong changes – some immediate, some that will happen over the coming years

Understanding that “the heart of a 21st Century communications operation is a mobile-first, digital communications team,” the governance and development of Pratt’s website and digital communications is moving from the Information Technology division to the new Communications and Marketing division this coming November.

The Pratt Shows 2019 website launched last month – LOOK AT IT!

Working together with the deans and chairs, Communications and Marketing is posting student activity on the website, Instagram and on the Guidebook app.

On April 17 Communications and Marketing will host the first Communications Collaborative meeting, inviting anyone in the Institute that manages communications of any kind for their department, school, or organization. If you want to participate, drop Jim an email.

If you haven’t been following the news series “Educating for the Future,” where faculty share their vision for an evolving world,  go check it out on

The news operation has put Pratt’s faculty and leaders front and center news sources, such as

  • Jane South and Sean Leonardo’s Hyperallergic podcast,
  • Industrial Design’s “Undocumented Design” project in Metropolis,
  • Pratt Manhattan Gallery’s “Ambiguous Territory” and “Design By Time” exhibits in The Architect’s Newspaper and Surface,
  • and Pratt Center’s director Adam Friedman and I shared a live interview on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show.  

And tens of other outlets have been part of our communications work.

In the areas of Finance and Administration

Now that the strategic planning process is moving into operationalizing at unit and overarching levels, we have the framework to develop our master plan for the physical plant.  Proposals have been received from 10 leading firms. Like the strategic planning process, development of a campus master plan will be highly inclusive with input solicited from faculty, staff and students.  We will build on the work of Sasaki space utilization study. 

Allied Works was selected to design the new School of Art. A sub-committee of the Buildings and Grounds Committee is working with Allied.  Leadership from Art has been heavily involved.  More stages include Design Development, Construction Drawings, campus input, etc.  And now is the moment we are on the move to raise donor dollars.   Additional input will be sought from the campus community as we move further along in the design process.

With Pratt Manhattan renovation phase 1 done—new classrooms, offices and consolidated an enhanced student services function to the 7th floor.  Phase 2 of the project is slated to begin this summer and will include relocating the gallery to the first floor and repurposing gallery space to create additional classrooms.  The lobby and façade will also be upgraded to create a distinctive ’Pratt’ identity for the building. Look for who we are on the new windows too!

Under the new leadership of Director Dennis Mazone, the Public Safety Department is working to continuously to improve its support of and relationship with the Pratt community including Mental Health Awareness training.  

The internal auditors for the institution, recently completed a positive audit of the student financial services area (financial aid, tuition revenue) and Registrar’s operations.

There are two new features to Pratt’s 403(b) retirement plan.

  • a Roth feature which will allow employees to save for retirement on an after-tax basis.  
  • ability to withdraw your part of the contributions to the plan once reaching age 59-1/2 while still working at Pratt.                                             

After conducting their annual due diligence review, Moody’s upgraded Pratt’s rating from A-3 with a positive outlook to A-2 . This is particularly significant during a time when Moody’s has reaffirmed their negative outlook for higher education as a whole. Factors that contributed to Pratt’s upgrade include increasing enrollment and net tuition growth, strong operating cash flows, and high degree of debt affordability. Challenges noted include a high reliance on tuition revenue and low gift revenue relative to other A-2 rated private institutions.
The market value of the endowment fund surpassed $200 million at September 30, 2018.                                                             

In Information Technology

This is the second year of our three-year security plan to update Pratt’s security infrastructure including building for continuity of operations for events ranging from minor outages to larger scale emergencies.

IT has just completed its first annual Technology 360 review process to allow us to better understand the community’s relationship with technology and address issues or concerns.

We now have Kaltura Personal Capture, which enables simultaneous camera and screen capture for recording lectures and events. Recordings require no editing and can easily be embedded in an LMS course.

A huge move forward:  As of this academic year, all Pratt students have free access to the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite of software and cloud services  –  everything they need to create, collaborate and get inspired.

In the Fall, IT opened a Maker production space in PMC, offering 3D printing, bookbinding, foam core mounting, laser cutting, and UV flatbed object printing. Brooklyn’s Engineering Digital Output Center has seen a substantial growth in use and has new machines too.  

We are integrating Wireless Display Mirroring with Apple TV and Windows Wireless Display Adapters which allows a user to connect to a display and wirelessly mirror the content on their device – giving us physical flexibility. And look forward to improved image quality with our new laser projections as we renovate.   

This year we have more than doubled our Internet bandwidth. The Brooklyn campus library underwent an overhaul and expansion of its WiFi infrastructure this year. A major upgrade of our firewalls took place over Spring Break.   

And in Institutional Advancement

Institutional Advancement, has been working to fund scholarships, program development, and special initiatives.  It will be our significant partner as we operationalize the strategic plan AND put together phase 2 of our comprehensive campaign.

Daphne Halpern became the new Vice President for Institutional Advancement, coming to us from CCS, an international strategic fundraising firm. Her own experience includes the New York Philharmonic, Asia Society, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Mount Sinai Medicine, and Hunter College.  

Changes in the IA team this year meant heavy lifts for our professional fundraising team.  I’d like to take time to thank all of our IA team members for their continued excellent work during this time.   Thank you.

As of March 1, 2019, this comprehensive campaign total raised is $68.6M.

Our current campaign, known as Phase 1, will end June 30. Planning and implementing framework for our next campaign efforts will be outlined in my next State of the Institute address.  I want to thank our Board of Trustees Chair Bruce Gitlin, Vice Chairs Anne Van Ingen and Mike Pratt, and the Board of Trustees for their launch and support of Phase I. 

Two areas of focused growth are current Pratt parents and international alumni.  IA is also focusing on strategic diversity fundraising initiatives to support the Institute’s efforts of a more diverse, equal, and inclusive campus.  As we build the comprehensive campaign, centerpieces will be scholarships, new facilities and infrastructure, support for strategic planning priorities, research, etc.

Prospect Management and Research is undergoing a comprehensive and strategic assessment of Institutional Advancement in preparation for Campaign readiness.

Alumni Relations (AR) continues to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships between Pratt and its growing worldwide community of alumni through regional networks, events, “Where Are You Now?” campaigns, social media, and stories in the Institute’s magazine Prattfolio.

This year, our focus on Alumni fostered vibrant 12 regional alumni networks in key cities around the US, including New York City, Miami, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Portland, and Seattle. This nationwide alumni presence allows our graduates to connect with us and with each other.  I am pleased to announce that our networks will now grow internationally, with devoted efforts focusing on Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, and exploratory efforts in Istanbul.  

We have so many unbelievable events from our Pratt shows to Legends. We will leverage them!

And finally Exciting development re Commencement 2019 program  

(Speaker) Roxane Gay is an acclaimed writer, educator, and commentator focusing on the intersections between race, gender, popular culture, and politics. Her bestselling books include Bad FeministDifficult Women and Hunger.

Nick Cave’s distinctive work moves between art, design, and performance, and his evolving vision is represented by his sculptures, installations, and video and sound works. He currently serves as director of the graduate fashion program at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Nancy Spector is the Artistic Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, providing conceptual and strategic leadership of collections, exhibitions, and curatorial programs at all Guggenheim museums worldwide. Previously, she served as chief curator at the Brooklyn Museum.

As I wrap this up, one thing to note is how many of the initiatives and reports are dovetailing into the strategic plan.  The goal this year is to operationalize the plan by unit, and make sure that our priorities align with our time and fiscal resource disposition.  The plan – will bring us to our aspirational and transformational goals.

On Founder’s Day 1888, Charles Pratt said in his speech:

“Let the work done here be earnest and good…work for the genuine and the true will sweeten and give courage for life.”   We will be bold and responsible, visionary implementers.

Thank you – any questions – VPs are on hand if there are specific                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

This strategic plan raises all of these issues and we will prioritize and operationalize over the next months and year.  Most of the issues are long-term, but some must be addressed immediately. The plan proposes moonshots, acceleration strategies, and evolutionary practices. It demands a civil framework, looking at partnerships, relationships, seamlessness between technology and space, product, and interaction, leaning towards impact, thinking big and making real, calling on our imaginations to be relevant, to scale our creative agency.  A call for purposeful and investigative engagement.  We ARE relevant, and we must both define and meet standards of excellence, creatively responding to our social imperatives.  We must as Laurie Anderson told our students last semester “do our work.”

The amazing thing, as in the ‘60s and ‘70s, we are now hearing a shift of what is ‘cool’ – leadership in design policy, in setting infrastructure and community standards, in creating the best social spaces, in challenging design that is not concerned with living beings, in critically examining and then acting. When Amale Andraos, architecture dean at Columbia, reframes success in architecture from low-income housing to questions of public space and that “we can change culture, knowledge and history by engaging in social activism. The definition of success is up for grabs.”  She changes the landscape.

When architect and activist Liz Ogbu tells us to ‘Not just address the beauty of the objects but pay attention to the quality of life that they enable’… to be – ‘designers, social innovators and urbanists – to design shelters for immigrant day laborers’ she leads us to a much broader definition of what an “architect” might be and do. At the panel on “Bell bottoms and Activism” Ron Schiffman reminded us of Whitney Young’s 1968 call to architects: “you are not a profession that has distinguished itself by your social and civic contributions to the cause of civil rights, that we are most distinguished by our thunderous silence and your complete irrelevance.” Bonnie Mann, philosopher and feminist scholar, proposes that the only way out of this is to reshape the social and material world and what we value. The paradigm is changing and I encourage partnering beyond our discipline. Openness and inclusivity are more important than ever.   We have this amazing array of ‘voices’ here today: and we share this space – from social science to commD, from architecture to information, from art to policy.   

We have led sessions from the 2018 Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, in Bergen, Norway, to the  2018 AICAD Symposium, in Chicago, “Cultivating Practices of Good Citizenship – Faculty Learning Communities and Collaborative Meaning Making.”and a panel called “Art, Design and Community Engagement: Programs for Active Citizenship,” and by Associate Provost for Research & Strategic Partnerships Allison Druin, who gave a talk entitled “Giving Voice to Citizens through Community-Based Research and Advocacy.”