December 14, 2021
KCAI Appoints Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar to be the next Nerman Family President
Following a unanimous vote by the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) Board of Trustees, Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar, Acting Director of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Museum of Design, was named the 25th President of Kansas City Art Institute and will begin her term July 1, 2022.
A proven administrator, educator, and thought leader, Ruki was selected following a seven-month national search by the firm Isaacson Miller. KCAI’s Presidential Search Committee was led by Trustees and Co-Chairs Herb Kohn and Laura Flanigan, who organized a diverse committee of 18 trustees, faculty, staff and alumni committed to finding the best leader for the college. Ruki will succeed Nerman Family President Tony Jones, who will retire on June, 30 2022.
Ruki currently manages more than 100 full-time employees and a collection of 215,000 designobjects spanning 31 centuries. She has previously served as the Director of Education for Cooper Hewitt, Associate Provost of Education and Access and the Acting Under Secretary for Education at the Smithsonian Institution. She led the Smithsonian’s response to the nation’s distance learning needs with a pan-institutional team. Prior to that, she worked extensively in higher education at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma where she advanced from professor in graphic design to director of graduate programs and associate dean of the College of Arts & Design. Ruki is also an award-winning graphic designer.
“Ruki brings a tremendous amount of experience to the college,” said Sue Nerman, chair of the board of trustees. “She embodies a creative resiliency and dynamic spirit that is the essence of KCAI. Her innovative approach to learning and teaching, strong leadership skills, and commitment to community partnerships is exactly what KCAI needs to lead us into the next chapter.”
Following her appointment, Ruki said, “I am so elated to be a part of the KCAI community. The commitment of KCAI’s faculty, staff and board of trustees to nourish the bold ambitions of students to tackle the complex challenges of the world is inspiring. I am honored to take on the role that bears the Nerman family name and lead KCAI into its next phase of evolution.”
Originally from Chennai, India, she received her MFA in graphic design from Iowa State University and BFA in the history of fine art and drawing and painting from the Stella Maris College in India. Ruki also has an executive education certificate in business from Yale University and a certificate in museum studies from Northwestern University. She is married to Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar, president of the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma.
Ruki has held multiple leadership roles at American Institute of Graphic Arts and was named an AIGA Fellow in 2015 by the Oklahoma Chapter. She has won numerous awards and recognitions including the prestigious 2021 Design Achievement Award from Iowa State College of Design.
Enthusiasm for this appointment was felt throughout the Board, and described by Chair Sue Nerman, who stated, “On behalf of the KCAI community, I want to take this opportunity to both welcome Ruki to Kansas City and thank retiring President Jones. For seven years, Tony has worked tirelessly as a champion for this college and led a complete transformation of the campus. Thanks to his efforts, the school is poised for great things ahead.”
The next generation of creative professionals on this campus are bold, fearless, and dream big about how they will help shape our future. As creative writers, animators, illustrators, and filmmakers, they want to tell stories that haven’t been told. While product designers, sculptors, and ceramists take concepts and shape them into objects and reality. Every student learns to tackle complex problems and use their creativity to transform the environment around us. KCAI is exactly where they are meant to be. Make a gift today to invest in the future of our students and their work as leaders in the art and design community and creative industries. Donate
KCAI students are immersed in classroom learning and studio work but stepping away from the college to visit museums and workshops offers them unexpected hands-on experiences and historical perspectives. This fall Fiber and Product Design students took to the road to discover the art of quilting and glassblowing. International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska In late September, 39 Fiber students, community members, and alums got an exclusive tour of the International Quilt Museum’s collection and a behind-the-scenes look at the maintenance of the quilt inventory. In the collection space, they viewed quilts made from the 1800s to the 2000s and learned about the history of quilting and major quilting artists. In the maintenance area, they observed the special vacuuming and folding techniques used for optimal quilt storage. They also got a sneak peek at temperature-controlled storage rooms, which held thousands of different quilts. One of the main goals of this museum is to maintain quality, integrity, and longevity for all the pieces. Leon McAllister (Sophomore, Fiber) was motivated by the trip. “It was inspiring to be able to see so many pieces and to think about who made them, how long it took, and what struggles they overcame. I was read more…
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