The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is a private, nonprofit institution located in Savannah, and its mission is to prepare students for professional careers in the arts. In addition to its Savannah campus, SCAD maintains campuses in Atlanta; Lacoste, France; and Hong Kong. In 2010 more than 10,000 students were enrolled at its four campuses and in its eLearning program. Students come from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries; international students account for approximately 10 percent of the student body. In 2010 SCAD employed more than 1,500 full-time and part-time employees. Of more than 720 full-time and part-time faculty, 75 percent held terminal degrees.
SCAD offers a wide variety of degree programs and specializations, including animation, architectural history, art history, arts administration, broadcast design and motion graphics, cinema studies, fashion, fibers, film and television, furniture design, graphic design, historic preservation, illustration, industrial design, interactive design and game development, interior design, performing arts, metals and jewelry, painting, photography, sequential art, sound design, urban design, and visual effects. In 1997 the departments were reorganized to offer minors in all major programs and in several complementary areas to expand students’ future employment opportunities.
SCAD’s innovative programs have received national and international recognition. SCAD was named one of “America’s Best Colleges for Entrepreneurs” by Fortune Small Business in 2007, and in 2008 the college was named one of “America’s Best Colleges” and one of “America’s Best Graduate Schools” by U.S. News and World Report, as well as one of the nation’s “Most Interesting Schools” by Kaplan-Newsweek.
SCAD was founded in 1978 by Paula S. Wallace, Richard G. Rowan, May L. Poetter, and Paul E. Poetter. The school began its first academic year in the fall of 1979 with seventy-one students, eight faculty, four staff, five trustees, and eight majors. Two of the cofounders, Rowan and Wallace, served as the first president and the first provost, respectively. In May 1981 the first commencement ceremony was held in Savannah’s Madison Square for one graduate. The founders have continued to be the driving force behind the school; in 2000 Rowan resigned as president and was replaced by Wallace.
As the institution expanded, it encountered its share of growing pains and controversies. In 1992 the administration fought efforts to establish a student government and a faculty senate and canceled commencement exercises following several pipe-bomb explosions on campus. The following year SCAD filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the New York City–based School of Visual Arts, which was expanding into Savannah with a satellite campus. SCAD accused the School of Visual Arts of trying to destroy the college’s reputation and of forming a conspiracy to oust SCAD’s leadership. After years of legal battles and an out-of-court settlement, the School of Visual Arts closed its Savannah branch.
Today, SCAD is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor and master degrees. The five-year professional Master of Architecture degree is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board, and the Master of Arts in Teaching degrees are approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. The college confers Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Architecture, Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Fine Arts, and Master of Urban Design degrees, as well as undergraduate and graduate certificates.
SCAD was the first art school in the country to have an athletics program and is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The SCAD Bees compete in men’s and women’s basketball, cross country, equestrian, golf, soccer, swimming, and tennis; women’s softball and volleyball; and men’s baseball and lacrosse. Fencing and cheerleading are offered as club sports.
In 2002 the SCAD Museum of Art opened in an antebellum Greek revival structure that formerly served as the headquarters of the Central of Georgia Railway in Savannah. One of the highlights of the museum is the Walter O. Evans Collection of African American art, which includes work by Romare Bearden, Aaron Douglas, and Jacob Lawrence.
SCAD’s flagship campus in Savannah offers a full university experience in the creative environment of the coastal South. The campus includes more than sixty facilities in one of the largest and most renowned National Historic Landmark districts in the nation. During the summer of 1981 SCAD launched its first off-campus study program in New York City. Subsequent sessions were held in Australia, China, Cuba, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and Thailand.
In 2002 SCAD acquired the Lacoste School of Arts in Provence, France, where it operates a year-round study-abroad facility. SCAD-Atlanta opened for classes in 2005 with seventy-seven students. The campus expanded in 2006 when SCAD acquired the Atlanta College of Art. By 2010 SCAD-Atlanta now enrolled nearly 2,000 students and offered twenty degree programs. SCAD facilities are located in the city’s Midtown arts district. In 2009 SCAD opened a campus in the Sham Shui Po district of Hong Kong, with eight programs of study.
SCAD-eLearning was launched in 2003, offering certificate and degree programs to a global, online community. Students anywhere in the world can earn fifteen different undergraduate and graduate degrees through award-winning online programs. SCAD-eLearning also offers certificate programs and individual courses.
SCAD is an important part of the Savannah, Atlanta, and Lacoste communities, providing educational and cultural events for the public. Annual events in Savannah sponsored by the college include the Savannah Film Festival; SCAD Style; SCAD Fashion Show; Game Developers eXchange; Sidewalk Arts Festival, a chalk-drawing competition; and International Festival, an exhibition of ethnic food, dress, and music.
Students and faculty have performed many community-service projects, including assessing historic-structure damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in coastal Mississippi; building houses with Habitat for Humanity; participating in Hands On Atlanta projects; developing plans for a LEED-certified building for Park Place Outreach Inc. in Savannah; helping restore the Wren’s Nest in Atlanta; participating in a citywide public mural project benefiting the Second Harvest Food Bank of Coastal Georgia and Hospice Savannah; creating Holocaust memorial sculptures in Savannah for the Jewish Educational Alliance; and helping restore the First African Baptist Church of Raccoon Bluff, on Sapelo Island.
According to an economic impact study published by the Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges in 2005, SCAD contributed more than $256 million to the Savannah-area economy.
Historic Preservation Leader
SCAD-Savannah is set apart from other colleges and universities because its urban campus is spread throughout Savannah’s National Historic Landmark district. In 1979 the school purchased the 1893 Savannah Volunteer Guards Armory for $250,000 and renovated it as the first classroom and administration building, named Poetter Hall. Expanding into the Victorian district and south of the downtown area, SCAD has become a guardian for previously abandoned historical buildings and now inhabits more than 2 million square feet in more than sixty facilities in Savannah. SCAD has rehabilitated an additional ten buildings in Atlanta and Lacoste.
While preserving the character and integrity of its historic buildings, SCAD offers state-of-the-art, industry-standard technology and tools in all its programs. Its facilities include studios, galleries, computer labs, film-editing suites, darkrooms, theaters, a museum, classrooms, residence halls, libraries, fitness centers, and event spaces.
In 1980 the college received the first of many preservation awards from the Historic Savannah Foundation for its adaptive reuse of the college’s flagship building. Since then, SCAD has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the Art Deco Societies of America, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Victorian Society in America, and the International Downtown Association. In 2003 SCAD was honored with the first-ever Renaissance Award from the Georgia Cities Foundation and a National Trust Main Street Leadership Award for Civic Leadership.