New Student Orientation Remarks, Fall 2015

Walter E. Massey | August 30, 2015

Good morning, and welcome to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago! I should also say congratulations: not only are you now officially students at one of the most prestigious schools of art and design in the world, you are also our 150th class of undergraduates.

That is remarkable—just think for a moment about what was going on when our School was founded in 1866. At the time, the American Civil War had only just ended, and reconciliation was in its earliest stages. In the same vein, it had only been a year or so since the assassination of one of this country's, and history's, truly great leaders, Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln was in many ways a son of this great city of ours, Chicago, which is for most of you your new home as well. What was Chicago like at the time of our founding? In 1866, the city's population was nearing 300,000—today it is nearly ten times that. Chicago had yet to turn thirty and had only recently made the transition from trading outpost into one of the world's great engines of industrial growth. Many Chicagoans of the day made their living in industries like manufacturing, railroads, lumber, and meatpacking—not the arts and design, exactly.

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New Student Orientation Remarks, Fall 2015 [PDF]