share this

Share This Search

News . Press Releases

Press Releases

June 08, 2021

Cleveland Institute of Art President Grafton Nunes announces retirement

Yearlong Transition Will Lay Groundwork for New Leadership


June 8, 2021

CLEVELAND—Grafton J. Nunes, the 10th president of the Cleveland Institute of Art, announced today that he will retire from his post effective June 30, 2022. Nunes announced his decision to the College’s Board of Directors at its spring meeting earlier today.

“It’s been an honor to serve as president of the Cleveland Institute of Art,” said Nunes. “I’ll leave knowing that CIA’s future is bright. Today, CIA is known nationally and internationally as a leading college of art and design. I can’t take sole credit for that achievement. It starts with the oversight and inspiration provided by our Board of Directors. It’s the result of hard work by our incredibly talented faculty and staff; enthusiasm and perseverance on the part of our students; generosity on the part of our donors and community partners; and steadfast connection with our alumni, who are now showcasing their education at companies, galleries, museums and institutions around the world.

“I’ve pledged to the Board that I will do everything I can to make the transition to new leadership as seamless as possible,” Nunes added. “I look forward to welcoming the 11th president and helping that individual carry on the work we’ve done as a team to offer an outstanding education to students seeking a career in art and design.”

“Grafton Nunes will leave an extraordinary legacy as president of the Cleveland Institute of Art,” said Cynthia A. Prior Gascoigne, chair of the CIA Board of Directors. “His term has been marked by numerous successes and achievements that have put our school in sound financial condition, with dynamic programs, an enhanced endowment, a reimagined campus and increased enrollment. He has built a strong faculty and an accomplished staff. We’re in a solid position to take CIA forward thanks to his leadership.”

Gascoigne said the Board has authorized its executive committee to oversee the process to identify Nunes’ successor. “We haven’t set a firm timetable for naming that individual, but we plan to move forward as expeditiously as possible. Grafton has graciously provided a yearlong transition period before his retirement begins, and we’re confident we’ll have the new president in place when he departs next summer,” she said.

Nunes joined CIA in 2010 after serving as founding dean of the School of the Arts at Emerson College in Boston. Prior to joining Emerson, he served for 22 years at Columbia University in New York City, eventually becoming associate dean of the university’s School of the Arts. During his time at CIA, the College completed a $75 million capital campaign; concluded a campus unification plan that consolidated operations under one roof at the George Gund Building on Euclid Avenue; transformed from a commuter school to a residential college with two residence halls; successfully passed two cycles of accreditation with NASAD and HLC; increased enrollment and improved upon the diversity of its student body; welcomed an increasingly diverse faculty and staff, including among directors, deans and vice presidents; revised curriculum with new disciplines and new technologies; enhanced the endowment and strengthened its financial position; saw its profile both in the U.S. and abroad grow exponentially; and successfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to offer in-person, hands-on instruction during the 2020–21 academic year.

Nunes said he intends to spend the next 12 months focused on expanding CIA’s strong financial footing. “As costs rise to deliver the first-rate art and design education our students deserve, we need the resources to support our students with enhanced scholarship aid as well as to retain and attract talented faculty—costs that tuition dollars alone can no longer cover,” he added.

Nunes will leave as CIA prepares to celebrate its 140th anniversary in 2022. Since the College opened in 1882, it has been the training ground for countless students who have gone on to make important contributions to the fields of art and design. Founded as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women, CIA today offers 15 majors in fine arts, design, crafts and entertainment arts. Its students have designed internationally recognized products and their work is displayed in major museums and private collections around the world. Notably, its graduates are employed by Hollywood and Fortune 500 companies, and work in academia, design studios and institutional settings. It enrolls approximately 600 students from across the country and internationally, and has a faculty of nearly 50 full-time and 60 adjunct faculty members, all of whom are practicing artists, designers and scholars.


Cleveland Institute of Art
Michael C. Butz, Director of College Communications + External Relations / 216.421.7404

Back to press releases


For more information about this or other CIA news, contact us here.