News Update

S.F. Art Institute to close after merger falls through

San Francisco Art Institute, a prestigious 151-year-old fine arts college whose alumni include Annie Leibovitz, Mark Rothko and director Kathryn Bigelow, announced it would close after a proposed merger with University of San Francisco fell through.

The college, a picturesque, historic campus on Russian Hill, graduated its last class on Tuesday. It will not offer any further courses, and faculty have been dismissed. The college will continue as a nonprofit organization to maintain the school’s archives and campus, which includes a famed mural by Diego Rivera.

University of San Francisco, a Jesuit college, said the proposed merger was not financially feasible, and instead it would expand its own fine arts department, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Art Institute was a mainstay of California’s robust art and film scene. In 1880, the school screened one of the world’s first moving pictures, and in 1945, faculty member Ansel Adams created a fine arts photography department, one of the world’s first, according to the college.

“After years of planning and immeasurable sacrifice by our students, faculty, and staff, it is profoundly lamentable that we are faced now with this present outcome,” said board chair Lonnie Graham. “The board’s goal was to preserve the legacy of one of the last remaining fine arts-only institutions while advancing the course of innovative educational practices that occurs through reciprocity between the students and faculty. … (We) encourage community members to stay connected through SF Artists Alumni, an independent global SFAI art community, and is eternally grateful for our hardworking, dedicated, and exceptionally talented students, faculty, staff, and alumni.”

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