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[All Staff] Letter from the President of CCA

Posted November 7, 2022, 10:29 AM

Dear Staff and Faculty,

After more than a decade of dreaming, visioning, collaborating, and planning, I am beyond thrilled to announce that we’ve begun construction on our new, expanded campus in San Francisco!

Opening to students in the fall of 2024, the new campus will unite CCA’s academic programs with living, learning, and making spaces in a single hub of innovation, creativity, and community. Designed by MacArthur award-winning architect Jeanne Gang, the Double Ground campus—so named for its “double” ground levels—invites cross-disciplinary collaboration and the open exchange of techniques and ideas, while foregrounding flexibility, environmental sustainability, and connectivity with the wider community.

If you’re in the Bay Area, I hope you’ll join us on campus Tuesday, November 15 at 3 pm for Maker / Meets / Future, a “ground-making” (and history-making) ceremony and community celebration to mark this milestone for our college.

We’ll continue to update you as we build a future-focused campus designed to inspire and serve generations of artists and designers to come. In the meantime, I’m pleased to share a few other highlights of what our community has been up to lately.

Reviving studio culture and unifying in San Francisco

As CCA was able to safely reopen studios and classrooms, students and faculty embraced the return to campus and got back to doing what they do best—making, creating, and transforming together. After going online at the beginning of the pandemic, we were fully back on campus in the spring of 2022. It was inspiring to see our campus and studios come back to life—for many, with a new appreciation for what makes CCA so special.

In the shops, the Kuka robots, 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC routers were buzzing again, as Architecture students prepared models of a built environment designed for the future of life, work, and public space. In the Furniture Atelier course taught by Wornick Visiting Professor Ido Yoshimoto, students reclaimed wood from drought-damaged trees from the Oakland campus to craft beautiful pieces of furniture that will carry a bit of the historic campus with them. In the painting and drawing studios, students and faculty reveled in the energy that comes from making and critiquing work together, in person. And our Pre-College programs took place entirely in San Francisco for the first time, with 120 high school students participating—70 of them as residents in CCA’s new student housing—as they got an early taste of college life and earned college credit.

As I write this, we’ve begun our first semester on a unified campus in San Francisco, without Bay or bridges separating our programs, studios, and residence halls. A flurry of ingenious space-planning and agile construction projects over the summer made space for CCA’s Oakland-based programs in San Francisco, some in temporary or off-site facilities until Double Ground is completed. Official instruction on the beloved and historic Oakland campus ended in May 2022. We honored the campus by gathering alumni, faculty, staff, and friends for a series of events organized by the Oakland Campus Legacy Committee, co-chaired by Professor and Chair of Textiles Deborah Valoma (MFA Fine Arts 1995), Director of Alumni Engagement Lisa Jonas (MFA Fine Arts 2014), and Associate Vice President of Instructional Services Annemarie Haar (BFA Photography 2003). It was especially moving to read the “love letters” to the Oakland campus that CCA community members wrote and hung from tree branches as we said farewell to CCA’s home for the past 100 years.

CCA's new Double Ground campus, now (left) and in the future (right)

Expanding scholarship support To create a more just and sustainable world, we must invest in an inclusive community of young artists, architects, and designers—one that is encouraging to students from diverse backgrounds and points of view. CCA scholarships are key to realizing this vision.In response to the ongoing financial challenges faced by many CCA students and their families, donors continue to generously support scholarships. Over the last year, hundreds of alumni, friends, and businesses stepped up to invest in CCA scholarships, and we are grateful. I’d like to extend special thanks to three who’ve directed their support to students from diverse backgrounds:

  • The Gensler family and Gensler, the award-winning global architecture, design and planning firm, contributed $2 million to establish the M. Arthur Gensler Jr. Center for Design Excellence.
  • Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation pledged $954,000 to support full tuition and room-and-board scholarships over four years.
  • Amazon gave CCA $100,000 directed to local San Francisco and Bay Area applicants with financial need.
  • Z Supply, owned by CCA alums Greg Garrett (BFA Glass 1975) and Sally Garrett (BFA Glass 1974), made a gift of $100,000 to create an endowment and spend-down fund for Fashion students from diverse backgrounds.

In addition, I’m pleased to announce the launch this year of the Visionary Practice Scholarship, which will provide students who bring diverse life experiences and bold ideas with the financial means to realize their creative ambitions at CCA. The scholarship, a reimagining of CCA’s former Diversity Scholarship, supports the full cost of tuition and fees for the duration of a student’s enrollment, helping them graduate and launch a career.

In a magical moment, a white dove landed on the dais during “Rooted,” a September ceremony honoring the Oakland campus. To the crowd’s delight, it poignantly accompanied CCA Director of Alumni Engagement and OCLC co-chair Lisa Jonas (MFA Fine Arts 2014) as she left the podium.


So much of CCA’s positive trajectory can be credited to the generosity, dedication, and ingenuity of our trustees, whose philanthropy and wisdom are making Double Ground possible and providing the scholarship support that enables many of our students to pursue their creative and professional vision at CCA.

Ten new board members have joined CCA during the past year, adding depth, experience, and rich diversity to the Board of Trustees. I am proud to have partnered with Trustee Noel Perry and the Committee on Trustees, along with the entire Board, on this good work, which will serve us well for many years to come. And I’m grateful to all of our trustees, whose leadership is so important to CCA’s continued success.

Our unified presence in San Francisco offers an enormous opportunity to expand our influence and enhance appreciation—and support—for all that CCA does. We know that CCA graduates enter their careers equipped with the making and critical thinking skills to effect the transformative change our society and world need today. As we—and our supporters—invest in the future of our campus and our students, we’re investing in the future of San Francisco as a hub of creativity and positive change. Thank you for being part of it.Warm regards, Steve Beal, President California College of the Arts
1111 8th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
CCA current and historical campuses are located in Huichin and Yelamu, also known as Oakland and San Francisco, on the unceded territories of Chochenyo and Ramaytush Ohlone peoples.