Marketing & Communications: SAIC Receives $2 Million Gift from the Crown Family

CHICAGO—The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), one of the nation’s leading art and design schools, announced a $2 million endowment gift from Paula and James Crown, Nancy and A. Steven Crown, and the Crown Family Philanthropies. The gift will endow a full professorship to be known as the Crown Family Professor in Painting and Drawing. The gift comes while SAIC is in the midst of a year-long celebration of its 150th Anniversary.

SAIC faculty member and renowned artist Michelle Grabner has been appointed as the inaugural Crown Family Professor in Painting and Drawing. “The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is a world-class art and design college largely because of our faculty, who are leaders in their fields, and we are so thankful to the Crown family for this generous gift,” said Walter Massey, president of SAIC. “Being able to offer endowed professorships is a priority for our School, and having Michelle Grabner serve as the Crown Family Professor in Painting and Drawing will help to ensure SAIC continues to produce students who make a significant impact on Chicago and beyond.”

Grabner has served on the Painting and Drawing faculty since 1996 and was department chair from 2010 to 2013. In 2014, Grabner co-curated the Whitney Biennial, which is widely regarded as the most influential survey of contemporary art in the U.S. Her work is in several collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

The Crowns are recognized throughout Chicago for their support of the arts and culture, civic affairs, education, the environment and health and human services. They are also generous supporters of the Art Institute of Chicago, SAIC’s partner institution. Paula Crown graduated from SAIC’s Department of Painting and Drawing with a Masters of Fine Arts in 2012, and Steve Crown is a member of the Art Institute’s Board of Trustees and the School’s Board of Governors.

“As a graduate student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I was fortunate to get to know Michelle Grabner. She is a contemporary multi-hyphenate: artist, teacher and scholar,” said Paula Crown. “We are honored to have her as the inaugural Crown Family Professor in Painting and Drawing.”

SAIC’s endowed professorships provide expanded resources, research funding and opportunities for growth inside and outside of the classroom. Additionally, these prestigious positions help SAIC attract and retain highly regarded faculty members who come from all over the world to teach at the School.

“Throughout its history, SAIC's faculty have been among the most notable and talented artists, designers and scholars of their time, and we are thrilled that the gift from our family will ensure faculty members have the resources they need to enable students to produce innovative and thoughtful work,” said Steve Crown.

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 ranked No. two 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 David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, and LeRoy Neiman. For more information, please visit

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