Jiseon Lee Isbara

President, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Jiseon Lee Isbara is the president of School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She assumed the presidency in July 2024, becoming the School’s 16th executive leader, the second woman and the first first-generation immigrant to lead the institution. Jiseon oversees the School’s world-renowned academic programs, strategic direction, and operations across all facets of the institution. With nearly 25 years of experience in higher education in art and design as a faculty member and administrative leader, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role.  

A photo of SAIC president Jiseon Lee Isbara sitting down in front of three works of art.


Before joining SAIC, Jiseon served as the provost of Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. During her tenure at Otis College, she led the development and implementation of the school’s strategic plan and operation, which resulted in enrollment growth, financial health, successful fundraising, and enhanced partnerships. Her leadership also promoted strong diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Previously, she held various roles, including tenure-track faculty and academic and administrative leadership positions at Oregon College of Art and Craft and East Carolina University. Throughout her 16-year administrative tenure, she continued to teach as a faculty member, demonstrating her commitment to education and student support.

Jiseon is deeply committed to fostering academically rigorous and culturally, socioeconomically, and racially inclusive learning environments for creative practitioners and researchers. She has a significant record of bold and courageous leadership, administrative and financial acumen, and interpersonal skill.

As a practicing artist herself, she understands the transformational power of an art and design education, having earned a master of fine arts degree in Fibers from Colorado State University and a master of fine arts and bachelor of fine arts degree in Fibers from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea, where she was born and raised.

If you would like President Lee Isbara to speak at an upcoming event, contact her office at president@saic.edu. Please share the event’s date, time, and location, as well as the type of speaking engagement (welcome remarks, keynote address, Q&A, roundtable discussion, etc.).