About: About Our President
Walter E. Massey, Ph.D.
Walter E. Massey has served as President of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) since 2010. In 2014 he was also appointed Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design. President Massey’s vast array of experience across higher education, the arts and the sciences, and the corporate and civic sectors is a tremendous asset to SAIC.
The 2015–16 academic year marks SAIC’s 150th Anniversary, and together with our vibrant community of artists, designers, and scholars, he is working to prepare the school for the next phase of its storied history. This includes efforts to increase student scholarships and further diversify the campus through initiatives like the Walter and Shirley Massey Chicago Fund and the College Arts Access Program; to broaden outreach to new institutional partners across the arts, higher education, and business communities; and to improve SAIC’s financial position, which has experienced an increase in its endowment of more than 30 percent. Under President Massey’s leadership, SAIC also opened its first-ever student center, the LeRoy Neiman Center, and developed a comprehensive campus analysis and campus master plan. President Massey also established the school’s first Office of Institutional Advancement and, together with Provost Elissa Tenny, oversaw the implementation of a Strategic Plan.
President Massey began his career as a theoretical physicist, first at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and then at Brown University, where he rose to Professor of Physics and Dean of the College. In other roles, he has served as Director of Argonne National Laboratory, which is jointly operated by the Department of Energy and the University of Chicago, where he also served as Professor of Physics and, later, as Vice President of Research. From 1991 to 1993, he served as Director of the National Science Foundation under former President George H.W. Bush. He then joined the University of California system as Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, with oversight of curricular and research affairs across 10 campuses and three Department of Energy laboratories.
In 1995 President Massey returned to Morehouse College, his alma mater, where he served as President for over a decade. During his tenure as President, more than 5,000 young, mostly African American men received degrees.
Throughout his career, President Massey has leveraged his expertise into other areas. In the corporate sector, he is former Chairman of Bank of America and currently serves as a Director of McDonald’s. In the civic and philanthropic sectors, President Massey has served on the boards of the Mellon Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Commonwealth Fund, Smithsonian Institution, and the Salzburg Global Seminar in addition to a number of other organizations committed to the advancement of science and technology, diversity in education, and the arts and culture.
Altogether he has been recognized for his many accomplishments with honorary degrees from 39 universities, including Yale, Northwestern, Ohio State, Columbia, and Brown, and is also a Trustee Emeritus of the University of Chicago and Brown University.
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