Earlier this year, Maine College of Art presented our 2020-2027 Strategic Plan internally, envisioning a world enriched by artists and designers empowered to create with profound and practical impact. We developed a set of five strategic goals to guide us toward this future. Together, we agreed to take risks when necessary, follow through on our best ideas, and seize all opportunities to make our mark as one of the nation’s premier colleges of art and design.
In keeping with this commitment, I am pleased to announce effective today, August 24, 2021, Maine College of Art will become
The name Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D) and our new wordmark embody the full breadth of our academic programs across all art and design disciplines and more accurately express our identity as a College to the world. Since our founding, we have grounded our programs in the fundamentals of visual design and design thinking. During the past decade, our design programs have grown substantially. Today 60% of our students are pursuing careers in animation, game art and design, illustration, fashion and textile design, and other design areas. Our expanded name will make it easier for interested students to easily identify all of our offerings.
I am grateful to our entire community (Board members, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community leaders) who convened during the last two years to contribute to our strategic planning and development. We are honored to have had our own adjunct faculty members Drew Hodges and Steve Bowden '97 as the creative directors behind the new MECA&D wordmark design, with contributions from alum designer Hallie Mitchell '17. Founder of Drewdesignco and SpotCo, Drew is known for his celebrated work on Broadway brands, including Rent, Chicago, and Hamilton. Steve’s international design and brand experience began here as a student in our BFA program; his return to lead our Marketing Department this year is well-timed for this moment of growth. We are also extremely grateful to the team from VIA, led by Trustee Dan Bailin, for leading us in the exploration and development of our MECA&D brand identity.
This academic year marks the College’s 140th anniversary, a historic occasion that gives us reason to reflect on our past, celebrate our achievements, and plan for our future. In addition to our more inclusive name, reflecting the full scope of our academic offerings, we have a number of other exciting initiatives that represent our commitment to creating an environment that promotes diversity and inclusion across our curriculum, programming, and community:
- Maine College of Art & Design Strategic Plan: Envisioning Our Future 2027: Since our founding in 1882, Maine College of Art & Design has emerged as a dynamic magnet for creativity in the heart of Portland’s Arts District. Despite the challenges the College has faced throughout the years, including the global pandemic that most recently disrupted every aspect of our lives including higher education, MECA&D has prevailed because of the strategic thinking, leadership, and generosity of our educators, alumni, artists, and community leaders who provided a foundation for us to build upon. I encourage you to read the full Strategic Plan document posted here and then to please reach out to me directly with questions, ideas, or suggestions for how we can work together toward these common goals.
- Be Seen Campaign: We are committed to building on our unique and authentic story to attract the next generation of artists and designers: MECA&D’s intimate size and unparalleled setting are strengths. Through our 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, access to state-of-the-art facilities, 24-hour-a-day studios, and our central location in Portland’s creative community, MECA&D is the right-sized school and in the right-sized city for our students to make their mark. Through award-recognized initiatives such as Project Project and Artists at Work, we offer our students direct community engagement opportunities, impacting both our students’ professional development and our community.
- & Lab: Launching this fall, this new course offering takes an interdisciplinary approach to bring students from all 11 majors and 7 minors together in one class to solve real-world, client projects. This unique opportunity will encourage students to collaborate across all art and design disciplines and gain practical experience that can be applied in a professional setting.
- 2021 Visiting Artists and Designers: Through generous donor support, our students have the opportunity to meet and learn from a diverse group of world-class creators invited to MECA&D as visiting artists year-round, including artists scheduled for this academic year, including Yazan Kalili, Ghada Amer, Alyson Shotz, and Lee Mingwei.
- New Faculty: This academic year we are welcoming two new faculty members, each with their own global experience and unique expertise, to join our talented existing faculty roster.
- Zenab Bastawala, Assistant Professor in Graphic Design. Zenab holds an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading, United Kingdom, a Certificate in Multimedia Design from Central College, Australia, and a Bachelor’s in Visual Communication Design from Swinburne University, Australia. She is an award-winning typographer, type designer/speaker, educator, and sign collector. Zenab lectures on typography, branding, book design, and graphic design nationally and internationally.
- Patrick Coughlin, Associate Professor in Ceramics. Patrick is an interdisciplinary artist who has exhibited work in China, Italy, Japan, and throughout the United States. Patrick was a professor at Saint Joseph's University and at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His experience and interests--ranging from industrial production and design to craft theory, fine art practice, and fashion design--were an inspiration to our faculty hiring committee.
- 140th Anniversary: As we embark on MECA&D’s 140th year, we will share more details on celebrations and events planned for the year ahead with our community to celebrate the impact that MECA&D has made and will continue to make on our local and global creative economies.
We are fortunate to have the strong student, alumni, faculty, staff, donor, and community support that helped us to arrive at our 140th year. We understand that some of our supporters may have an affinity for the Maine College of Art (MECA) name, others are attached to the time when we were called Portland School of Art. During our 140 years the College has adapted to the world around it. We anticipate that it may take some time for everyone to digest our news. But we hope that you will understand why a more inclusive and comprehensive description of our offerings is now needed.
We want to thank each of you for your work and support that has helped us shape the future of Maine College of Art & Design. As we embark on the next chapter together, we look forward to attracting, educating, and supporting future generations of creative thinkers and activating students of all pursuits to make art, make an impact, and inspire change.
Whether we are art appreciators or creators, art provides us with the hope, imagination, and optimism to live our lives with purpose, passion, and humanity. We are privileged to share the responsibility of educating, guiding, and inspiring tomorrow’s creative leaders. With your continued support and encouragement, together we can reach our highest aspirations for Maine College of Art & Design.