PLAN 70: Article
John Maeda Named New President Of Risd

He is the Third from SA+P to Lead a University

John Maeda, associate director of research at the Media Laboratory, has been appointed president of the Rhode Island School of Design, effective June 2008. He is the third member of the SA+P community to be tapped as a college president: Lawrence Bacow, the first director for education and research at our MIT Center for Real Estate, was named president of Tufts University in 2001, and David Smith (SMVisS'97) was appointed president of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in August 2006.

A pioneering voice for 'simplicity' in the digital age, Maeda received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from MIT and has been teaching at MIT since 1996; he is currently the E. Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Media Arts and Sciences. He earned his PhD in design from Tsukuba University Institute of Art and Design in Japan, and received his MBA from Arizona State University.

Maeda pioneered the use of the computer for people of all ages and skills to create art. His early work redefined the use of electronic media as a tool for expression by combining skilled computer programming with a sensitivity to traditional artistic concerns, work that helped to pioneer the interactive motion graphics prevalent on the Internet today. He also initiated the Design By Numbers project, a global initiative to teach computer programming to visual artists through a freely available, custom software system he designed.

In 1999 he was included in Esquire magazine's list of the 21 most important people for the 21st century. He is also the recipient of the highest career honors for design in the United States (2001, National Design Award), Japan (2002, Mainichi Design Prize) and Germany (2005, Raymond Loewy Foundation Prize). Maeda is the author of four books, including his 480-page retrospective MAEDA@MEDIA (2001, Thames & Hudson), and his most recent book, The Laws of Simplicity (2006, MIT Press).

Dean Adèle Naudé Santos described Maeda as a visionary, world-renowned graphic designer, artist and computer scientist. 'He is truly a trailblazer,' she said, 'a charismatic public speaker and a brilliant teacher who cares deeply about education. His contributions to the Media Lab culture have been enormous and it has been a privilege to have him on our faculty. This is an inspired choice for President of RISD and we wish him all the best.'

Media Lab Director Frank Moss added that Maeda's name is considered synonymous with the most exciting and dynamic concepts at the intersection of art, design and technology. 'John has brought the Maeda Touch to everything from buildings to sneakers and has had an enormous impact on the world,' he said. 'As such, he represents a fantastic choice to lead RISD into the future.'

The Rhode Island School of Design was founded in Providence RI in 1877. It is home to 2200 students from around the world, approximately 350 faculty and curators and 400 staff members. It offers 16 undergraduate and 17 graduate majors.

Posted January 2008