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"The Right Man, at the Right Place, at the Right Time"

Flashback to Fred Lazarus IV’s First Moments as MICA President

Posted 01.01.14 by MICA Communications

President Fred Lazarus IV responding to statements of vision and challenge (photo by Joan C. Nethewood ’77).

As Juxtapositions continues to look back at President Fred Lazarus IV's tenure, an excerpt from the 1978 special edition of Contact captures Lazarus' first moments as MICA President.

"Many challenges have been set forth by those who have addressed us this afternoon. But also we have had many insights about what makes the Mary land Institute such a great institution," said President Lazarus. Fred Lazarus IV, stood on the white marble steps in the court of the Main Building on October 26, 1978. The crowd assembled included scores of students and faculty, Trustees, alumni, representatives of other educational institutions, the cultural community, individual and corporate supporters, public officials from the city, state, and nation, reporters, family and friends from Mr. Lazarus' past associations including the Council on Equal Business Opportunity and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Introducing Fred Lazarus

On July 21, 1978, Eleanor K. Hutzler, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, announced the appointment of Fred Lazarus IV as President of the Maryland Institute College of Art. The announcement concluded a national search that occupied more than a year.

Mr. Lazarus, 36, had formerly been the top assistant to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 1975, he worked with Miss Nancy Hanks and, since 1977, with Livingston Biddle. 

Prior to the years at the National Endowment, Mr. Lazarus served as President of the Washington Council for Equal Business Opportunity and as staff associate at the National Office for Equal Business Opportunity. From 1966 to 1968, he served in the Peace Corps in Panama City.

Mr. Lazarus received a BA from Claremont Men's College in California in Economics and a MBA from Harvard Business School. George L. Bunting, Jr.,Vice-chairman of the Board, served as chairman of the Trustee Selection Committee. Assisting Mr. Bunting were Mrs. Hutzler and Trustees Otto Kraushaar and Harrison Robertson. A Search and Recommendation Committee, consisting of faculty, staff and alumni, worked with the Trustee Selection Committee for 9 months. The national search involved over 100 applicants and the interviewing and screening of several candidates.

According to Mr. Bunting, "Both the trustee committee and the faculty and staff committee displayed an impressive diligence and integrity in their efforts, continually seeking a more thorough understanding of the Maryland Institute's true needs and trying always to match a candidate's strengths with those needs. I am personally confident that Mr. Lazarus will serve the Institute well, leading it toward new levels of strength and commitment."

Mr. Lazarus officially began as President on September 11, 1978. 

Jonna Lazarus graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in merchandise and design. Currently studying landscape design at George Washington University, Mrs. Lazarus is also an amateur watercolor painter. 

Mr. and Mrs. Lazarus have a newborn daughter. They live on Capitol Hill in Washington and plan to move to Baltimore early in 1979. 

Fred Lazarus began with a full schedule. In the first two weeks, he held a series of meetings open to all faculty and students. As many have noted, he listens well, often recording information on a steno pad. 

"Are you as excited about our new president as I am?" asked one member of the faculty. "Fred has what it takes. When does he find time to sleep?" 

At his first meetings with the faculty and Board of Trustees, Mr. Lazarus said he would like to establish joint committees-including faculty, students, trustees, and staff-to review the areas of the studio majors, the liberal arts requirements, the graduate programs, and the faculty handbook. 

The Maryland Institute recently received reaffirmation of accreditation for a 10-year period from both the National Association of Schools of Art and the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges. The committees, Mr. Lazarus said, can help us to study ourselves, to continue evaluation on an ongoing basis. Changes are not necessarily predicted, but if change is recommended, then the right participants will be involved in the process. 

Among his first impressions, some of the strongest include the "almost unbelievable ability the Institute has to stretch a dollar. There has been very little waste here. At the same time, there are many pressing needs that haven't been met. It can't all come from tuition either. The physical resources need improvement. Cannon [Fox Building] is an important part of this-a central part-but upgrading in studios must take place in other buildings, too."

On Cannon Shoe Company Building[Fox Building]:
"We must find another name ... I am hopeful that basic code work will be completed by the fall of 1979 so that some area
can be used for instruction. We will phase in the rest as rapidly as possible."

On Baltimore:
"Jonna and I have been boosters for a long time, frequently bringing guests here from Washington-that was before I knew about the Institute looking for a President. I became better informed when the Endowment sponsored a research project on the cultural life of the city (incidentally co-chaired by Ellie Hutzler). I discovered Baltimore's unusual position nationally-it has a great climate for the arts. I've been speculating on the coincidence of cities on the rise-they all seem to have vital cultural activity. Baltimore fits that description. There may not be an obvious cause-effect relationship, but ..."

On the Institute's Reputation:
"The Maryland Institute has a terrific national reputation as a leading art school that produces creative people. It's strange that here in Baltimore-on the one hand it's hard to find anyone who doesn't know someone who has attended the Institute, but then people also say that they don't know a thing about the school. I feel that so many of the arts have their own established forums for expression-but this isn't so true for the living, creative visual artist. Art schools could help serve this function. I think that some things we'll be doing will try to serve that end in part."

On His Past Experience:
"My job at the Endowment had no relationship to being President, but there are some similarities: one of these is dealing with a variety of constituents; another is understanding and trying to articulate the arts to a diverse group of people."

On the selection process:
"People have asked me how I learned so much so soon. My answer is that the search process was a fabulous learning experience-meeting students, faculty, staff, and Trustees at the pace that was established. I found people with good ideas, exciting ideas. I wanted to become a part of the Institute and take part in its future."

Remarks from 1978 Ceremony to Honor President Fred Lazarus IV

"It's a happy occasion," said Eleanor K. Hutzler, then Chairman of the Board, as she welcomed guests and opened the ceremony. Past Faculty Assembly President Quentin Moseley commended the new President for already providing "a structure that creates a forum for open discus sion of the issues that lay before the Institute."

"The Maryland Institute is one of the chief custodians of this community's culture," said former Trustee Dr. Otto F. Kraushaar. "The mantle of leadership and vision is now on your shoulders, Fred Lazarus. And this comes at a special time in Baltimore's renaissance-a city that has made such a brilliant beginning in shaping a more positive physical environment. The vision must go beyond new plazas to include the very visions people themselves have and hold."

"I like Fred Lazarus' attitude," said Alonzo G. Decker, Jr., then member of the Board of Trustees. "He told me ‘There are no problems at the institution, only challenges and opportunities...'"

"Today the Institute needs a financial humanist," said past President Eugene W. "Bud" Leake. "You have him. He is the right man at the right place at the right time." Bud Leake predicted that "the coming ten years will be the greatest decade in the Maryland Institute's history."

On behalf of then Mayor William Donald Schaefer, Ruth Corson, former curator of City Hall, presented a plate to Mr. Lazarus. She expressed the hope that the "exciting and successful experiences" between the Institute and the City would continue.

Image Caption (from top to bottom): President Fred Lazarus IV responding to statements of vision and challenge (photo by Joan C. Nethewood '77); Cover of the 1978 special edition of Contact; Michael Brown, student representative, meeting Trustee Alonzo G. Decker, Jr., as the ceremony is about to begin photo by Joan C. Nethewood '77).