March 4, 2010

Art college's president to step down


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Courtesy photo Handout photo.....New MECA president James Baker. Maine College of Art jim baker

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — James Baker, president of the Maine College of Art, announced his resignation Friday, saying he will step down May 9.

Baker, a photographer, said in a written statement that he plans to pursue his own art and will be ''exploring new directions and opportunities.''

Baker came to the Maine College of Art in 2005 from the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, Colo.

He is credited with putting MECA in a good position to expand in the coming years.

Tim Kane, vice president for advancement and college relations, said Baker helped the college refresh and refine its mission and its five-year strategic plan. Under Baker's leadership, the school has gone through a major consolidation of its campus.

''The Clapp House, which had belonged to the college for many years, was sold to the (Portland) Museum of Art, and all of those administrative and academic services came into the Porteous Building'' on Congress Street, Kane said.

''We also are in the process of selling the Baxter Building, which we've been in for about 20 years, and all those folks are also coming into the Porteous Building. So that was a major shift for us.''

On the academic side, Baker oversaw a significant overhaul of the college's curriculum.

''Jim really helped lead the faculties through the process of taking a curriculum that had been in place for many years and really restructuring and redefining it to be current, and be a relevant art and design curriculum for the current day,'' Kane said.

The board of trustees will initiate a presidential search process in October. Baker will continue through the academic year, working with the college's three vice presidents, who will serve as a management team.

Kane said no decisions have been made on exactly what the college will be looking for in a new president, but whoever steps into the position will likely be ''someone with demonstrated leadership, someone with a vision for where art and design educaton needs to be going in the 21st century, and someone who can raise the funds and work with the board in a way that will keep a small independent art college vital and growing.''

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

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