Philadelphia, PA—Moore College of Art & Design President Cecelia Fitzgibbon, the 10th president in the history of the College, has announced her intention to retire at the end of the 2021–2022 academic year, effective June 30, 2022. Since her inauguration in summer 2012, President Fitzgibbon has made a major impact on the College’s financial health, academic environment and reputational standing as a higher education institution for artists and designers who wish to build creative, enterprising careers of significant impact.
Frances Graham ’66, Chair of Moore’s Board of Trustees, said, “President Fitzgibbon’s guidance, kindness and wise leadership has made it possible to accomplish so much and to make Moore the outstanding institution that it is today. Her dedicated leadership will be felt for years to come as we continue to grow into the future. We are so very grateful for her time with us.”
“It has been the great honor of my career to build and uphold the outstanding reputation of the nation’s first and only historically all-women’s college for art and design,” said President Fitzgibbon. “Thanks to the collaboration, collegiality and shared commitment of our faculty, staff and Board, we have spent the past decade preparing Moore students to harness their talent and ambition, to become leaders and visionaries in their fields, and to change the world. I take immense pride in knowing that the work that we have done together has truly made a difference.”
Under Fitzgibbon’s leadership, the College more than tripled its endowment from $12 to $40 million, retired its long-term debt, and completed numerous capital projects to improve the physical space of the campus. In 2019, Fitzgibbon received a gift of $5 million from the late philanthropist and artist Jane Walentas, a 1966 Moore graduate, and her husband, David Walentas—the single largest donation in the history of the College. This gift went directly toward the creation of 10 annual scholarships for students accepted into Moore’s prestigious Visionary Woman Honors Program, created during Fitzgibbon’s tenure. Fitzgibbon also capped the success of ImagineMoore, a three-year capital campaign that raised $17.5 million to increase the College’s resources for scholarships, to build internal capacity and to conduct major projects. The campaign exceeded its original goal of $15 million and raised $11.9 million for scholarships, guaranteeing that Moore can continue to admit and graduate the most talented art and design students, regardless of their ability to pay tuition.
Fitzgibbon has also overseen several projects geared toward establishing a more collaborative, rigorous and inclusive learning community. She worked closely with Moore’s academic dean to institute new standards for peer evaluation among faculty and collaborated directly with faculty to create the charter for a shared governance body, the Faculty Forum. During her tenure, the College launched new Socially Engaged Art MFA and MA graduate programs and two undergraduate programs: Film & Digital Cinema, which will welcome its first students in fall 2021, and Animation & Game Arts, which has since become the College’s most popular major. Both majors were developed in direct response to an ongoing need for stronger female and nonbinary representation in those industries. Fitzgibbon also oversaw the College’s first diversity, equity and inclusion climate survey, which engaged students, faculty, staff and Board members in conversations around the College’s commitment to these values. In response to survey feedback, Moore introduced and adopted a revised admissions policy in spring 2020, inclusive of nonbinary and gender-nonconforming undergraduate students.
During Fitzgibbon’s time as president, numerous projects have substantiated the College’s role as an important member of the Philadelphia cultural community. The Walentas Fellowship, endowed with support from Jane and David Walentas, was established in 2018 to welcome a diverse range of emergent artists to work within Moore’s community and extend the work with neighboring cultural partners. In addition, Fitzgibbon has overseen the launch of a new visiting curators program for The Galleries at Moore, inviting up-and-coming curators to Moore to interface with students and to install contemporary, meaningful work in the space, and has extended the College’s work into the Norris Square area and other Philadelphia neighborhoods through collective, community-based programming.
In the past year, Fitzgibbon led the College through the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring a safe learning and working environment for the College community and upholding Moore’s longstanding commitment to a world-class art and design education for its students, even in the face of unprecedented challenges. During this time, Fitzgibbon also led the College in an award-winning rebrand, launched in fall 2020, which included a redesigned, Webby Award–nominated website and a new tagline: “The World Needs Moore.”
In addition to her accomplishments at Moore, Fitzgibbon’s professional career has included multiple professorial and administrative positions at Drexel University, where she was the Graduate Arts Administration program director from 1996 to 2012 and a senior advisor for the Philadelphia Cultural Management Initiative with the Pew Charitable Trusts from 1999 to 2005. She also held senior leadership roles at First Night Wilmington, Arts Market Consulting, the New England Foundation for the Arts, Delaware Division of the Arts and the American Council for the Arts. Serving nine years as the Division Director in Delaware, she moved the agency from 17th to third in the nation in per capita funding for the arts and hired previous Alliance director Peggy Amsterdam in her first professional role. Currently, she serves as treasurer and chair of the presidential search committee for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and she was board chair of the Parkway Council Foundation from 2018 to 2020, among many other affiliations.
A Presidential Search Committee will assist the Board in the search for President Fitzgibbon’s successor. This committee will be made up of several Board members, the incoming and outgoing presidents of Moore’s Faculty Forum, the president of the Staff Council, a representative of the Alumni Council, and the president of the Student Government Association. The College anticipates announcing President Fitzgibbon’s successor in the spring of 2022, and a July 1, 2022 start date.