Marketing & Communications: SAIC Launches $50 Million Fundraising Campaign

CHICAGO—The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a global leader in art and design education, announced the launch of its first-ever significant fundraising campaign, a milestone in the School’s 150-year history. The comprehensive campaign—Beautiful/Work: The Campaign for the School of the Art Institute of Chicagoaims to raise $50 million by 2018 to increase funding for student scholarships and faculty resources.

The official public fundraising phase was announced by President-Designate Elissa Tenny on Friday, May 6, during SAIC’s 150th Anniversary Gala celebration at the Art Institute of Chicago. The gala raised more than $1.2 million in support of student scholarships.

“SAIC has educated the world’s most transformative and influential artists, designers and scholars who have gone on to define and redefine our visual world, perceptual frontiers and creative enterprise,” said Tenny. “Beautiful/Work: The Campaign for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is a groundbreaking investment in our talented and brilliant students and dedicated and boundary-pushing faculty. For it is our students and faculty that shape our cultural life now and for decades to come.”

Since the campaign began its leadership phase in 2014 more than 15 individuals have donated at least $1 million and more than 60 individuals have donated $100,000 or more, totaling $40 million in funds raised.

Beautiful/Work for Students

With more than 75 percent of SAIC students receiving financial assistance each year, scholarship support is critical to maintaining academic excellence, competitiveness and diversity at SAIC.

“SAIC’s Beautiful/Work campaign is a transformative investment in our students and faculty,” said SAIC President Walter E. Massey. “By supporting scholarships, professorships and new and innovative courses and collaborations, the campaign reinforces our commitment to providing a rigorous and inspiring education in the arts and design, and to ensuring we continue to attract the most talented and diverse students in the country.”

SAIC has been focused on increasing its endowment, and between 2010 and 2015, the School has increased the amount of funds available for scholarships by nearly 40 percent, from $27.5 million in 2010 to $38.3 million in 2015. The $40 million raised as part of SAIC's Beautiful/Work campaign has contributed to that increase and, for the fiscal year 2014–15, the School awarded a record number of scholarships totaling approximately $38 million, with approximately 97 percent of the incoming first-year students receiving aid.

One of the most significant scholarship opportunities that will be supported by SAIC’s Beautiful/Work campaign is the Walter and Shirley Massey Chicago Scholarship Fund. Established in 2012 in honor of President Walter Massey and his wife, Shirley, the fund provides need-based scholarships to undergraduate students from the city of Chicago. Since its launch, the fund has provided 15 full-tuition scholarships for undergraduate students coming from Chicago Public Schools. The scholarship provides them with the funding they need to become visionary thinkers, innovators and scholars over the course of their undergraduate tenures at SAIC.

“The scholarship funding I received from SAIC completely changed my college experience,” said Amanda Alexandria McLin (BFA 2018), recipient of the Walter and Shirley Massey Chicago Scholarship. “I am not constantly plagued with the fear of having to drop out of school because I can’t pay my tuition, and with the scholarship, I will be able to gain a concrete foundation of knowledge in my field, ascending to the highest point of achievement within the field of fashion design and the art world.”

Throughout the School’s 150-year history, many of the students and alumni who have made significant contributions to the world of art, design and business, also received scholarships while attending SAIC, including:

  • Ivan Albright (SAIC 1919–23, HON 1977)
  • Richard Hunt (BA 1957, HON 1979)
  • Ed Paschke (BFA 1961, MFA 1970, HON 1990)
  • Elizabeth Murray (BFA 1962, HON 1992)
  • Cynthia Rowley (BFA 1981)
  • Sanford Biggers (MFA 1999)
  • Rashid Johnson (MFA 2005)

Beautiful/Work for Faculty Excellence

Beautiful/Work: The Campaign for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago also supports faculty members who teach, mentor and inspire students to make visionary and groundbreaking work through named faculty professorship and awards.

“Through endowments and awards, not only are we able to attract the finest artists, designers and scholars, but we can provide more resources to our outstanding faculty," said Lisa Wainwright, SAIC's dean of faculty and vice president of academic affairs. "These resources directly correlate with retaining an exceptional team of faculty, which in turn, attracts the best students and furthers the School's influence."

Notable and current professorships made possible by endowments include:

  • Crown Family Professor in Painting and Drawing: Michelle Grabner
  • Mohn Family Professor of Contemporary Art History: David Raskin
  • John H. Bryan Chair of Historic Preservation: Anne Sullivan
  • Angela Gregory Paterakis Professorship: Olivia Gude
  • Alsdorf Professor in South Asian Art History: Nora Taylor
  • Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Professor of Art History: David Getsy
  • Emily Crane Chadbourne Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism: Jim Elkins
  • Frederick Latimer Wells Professor of Painting and Drawing: James Lutes
  • Sage Foundation Chair in Fashion Design: Anke Loh

Praise for SAIC

The campaign announcement comes on the heels of several recent achievements for SAIC including earning a coveted spot on the 2017 “U.S. News & World Report” Best Graduate School Rankings annual list. SAIC was ranked the nation’s fourth best graduate fine arts program, and together with the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), SAIC is tied as the highest-ranked freestanding, specialized school of art and design in the country. “U.S. News” also ranks schools in 10 individual areas of concentration in the Fine Arts category, with SAIC earning a top-five ranking in six of them: Fiber Arts (No. 1), Painting and Drawing (No. 2), Photography (No. 2), Print (No. 4), Sculpture (No. 4), and New Media (No. 5).

Additionally, the “Chronicle of Higher Education” reported SAIC was among the top producers of U.S. Fulbright Scholars for specialized institutions. Sponsored by the United States Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the highly competitive, merit-based Fulbright Program aims to increase multicultural exchange and encourage international understanding by providing students individual grants to study and research outside of the U.S. Since 2002, 32 students have represented SAIC as U.S. Fulbright Fellows in 23 countries.

Give the Gift of an SAIC Education

“Alumni, faculty, parents, staff, friends, foundations, corporations and government partners have played a critical role in making SAIC a world-class art and design school,” said Cheryl Jessogne, SAIC’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement. “We look forward to building a future together, one where interdisciplinary opportunities for our students and faculty are fortified through philanthropy.”

For the latest news on the campaign or to support Beautiful/Work: The Campaign for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, visit Watch this video to learn more about the impact of giving.

About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

For 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program consistently ranking among the top three graduate fine arts programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alumni and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons, and LeRoy Neiman. For more information, please visit

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