Leonard W. Volk helped rebuild the school after the Great Chicago Fire.
On November 18, 1867, a meeting of the principal artists of Chicago was held at the Crosby’s Opera House in order to discuss the reorganization of the Chicago Academy of Design, which would later become SAIC. The Academy was founded on broad and liberal principles with a core interest in elevating the character and condition of the arts and design. A revised constitution was adopted, and sculptor Leonard W. Volk was made the Acting President, a position he held until 1878.
In his time as President, Volk helped position the school as a prestigious art and design college as well as rebuild the school after its first building burned to the ground in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Volk also continued to teach courses and instructed artists such as American painter Elbridge Ayer Burbank.
In 1858 Volk met Abraham Lincoln during the Lincoln-Douglas presidential debates. In May 1860 Volk convinced Lincoln to have a life mask of his face made, and then later of his hands. These models went on to be used for various statues of the President, including a life-sized statue created by Volk in Springfield, IL.