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SMC Luncheon Speaker: Richard Rogers of the College for Creative Studies

On April 9th, Richard Rogers, the President of The College for Creative Studies for nearly 25 years, spoke to us about the history and mission of the College. The College for Creative Studies was founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. Its original purpose was to encourage good and beautiful work as applied to useful service. It still pursues that purpose but as one of the nation’s leading art and design colleges. CCS is fully accredited and enrolls more than 1,400 students. It focuses on arts education, offering both Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees. CCS, located in midtown Detroit, strives to provide students with the tools needed for successful careers in the dynamic and growing creative industries. The College also offers free art education for more than 4,000 Detroit youth annually through its Community Arts Partnerships program. In addition, the College’s Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies is a public charter middle and high school enrolling more than 800 students in a high-performance academic curriculum with a special focus on art and design.

The vision of CCS is to educate the best artists and designers in the world through a relentless focus on creativity, and they have an impressive list of alumni throughout the creative world. They have traditional disciplines such as painting, sculpture, glass blowing, ceramics, and metalsmithing as well as high-tech disciplines such as automotive design, digital animation, and game design. They are considered the best automotive design school in the world. Although 80% of their students come from Michigan they also come from 33 other states and 10% are international. About 98% of their students receive financial aid.

LinkedIn has ranked CCS as the third-best design school in the US. They are focused on career development and their employment rate for students two years after graduation stands at 90%. The kind of education they provide in art and design provides the kinds of capacities that students will need in the future to be successful in business, such as creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. CCS collaborates with numerous businesses to produce gradutes with the skills needed today. Many companies sponsor projects in CCS classrooms. President Rogers showed us the result of several such projects. Last year 222 companies interviewed on campus, and we saw examples of the success that CCS graduates have achieved, including becoming the editor of Mad Magazine. CCS has over 200 graduates at GM, over 100 at Ford, and two-thirds of the design staff at Chrysler.

The College also offers free art education for Detroit youth through its Community Arts Partnerships program. They collaborate with local community organizations to provide arts education to students who no longer receive it in their public schools. CCS has also done permanent public art programs in neighborhoods around the city, including murals and sculptures. The College has two galleries that feature exhibitions of students and other artists and they sponsor two endowed lecture series each year. Finally, CCS has been active in economic development by establishing Design Core Detroit, an organization that attracts design-driven businesses to Detroit and assists local businesses in incorporating design into their products or services. President Rogers noted that this organization was instrumental in bringing Shinola to Detroit. It was also successful in applying to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culturual Organization (UNESCO) Creative Cities Network, making Detroit the first and only city the the US to receive the UNESCO City of Design designation.

We would like to thank Richard Rogers for highlighting the importance of the College for Creative Studies in the creative life of our community.

                                        Reported by George Arsenault and David Morrow

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