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Letter from the President

Charles HirschhornOur mission to educate a diverse community of students to become highly skilled, well-informed, and responsible professionals—empowering them to shape the world, is more important than ever.

Art and design guide us forward in powerful ways. They bring new ideas into our lives and spark imaginations. The skills and knowledge our faculty share with our students every day prepare them to navigate and lead, especially through challenging times. 

The 2020-2021 academic year tested these ideas in ways we could not have imagined.

Along with the Class of 2024, I began at Otis College remotely. On my first day, June 1, 2020, I took an opportunity to pledge my support for Black Lives Matter and to learn more about the diverse community of Otis College. We also hired new Provost Jiseon Lee Isbara, addressed a pandemic-driven enrollment decrease and subsequent revenue shortfall, implemented  Covid-19 testing, weathered Zoom fatigue, witnessed the violence surrounding certification of a U.S. presidential election, learned more about the remote learning needs of both students and faculty, and repeatedly rose to the occasion by  hosting hundreds of student, public, and admissions events.  We created joy and celebration both meaningfully and remotely with our Fashion Show Benefit, Annual Exhibition, and Commencement.

The full list is longer and more varied, but the common practice guiding our actions was a continual effort toward an open, transparent, and inclusive exchange of ideas. What made many, if not all, of these actions possible was extraordinary engagement and philanthropic support from the Otis College community.

In response to the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, we launched Otis Is Essential, a campaign to support students, faculty, and staff at the College. The response was remarkable. Thank you to everyone who participated with contributions both large and small. Because of your support, we reached our $1 million goal in this urgent, one-year campaign when it closed on June 30, 2021.

We were also deeply moved by a contribution of $1 million by Mei-Lee Ney, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Otis College. In a significant endorsement of the initial anti-racism actions announced by the College in the summer of 2020, her gift enabled the immediate launch of several initiatives, including additional scholarships and the hiring of Nick Negrete, the College’s first diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) executive role at the College.

Throughout the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the donors—individuals, foundations, organizations, and corporations—celebrated on this Honor Roll generously supported the College during a uniquely transformative time in our history.  We have turned many of these ideas into reality.  By doing so, we have reinforced a solid foundation for Otis to both return to its pre-pandemic stature and build upon that with strength and continual, creative innovation.

Your support is essential and, on behalf of everyone at Otis College, thank you.


Charles Hirschhorn