MICA History

Becoming a College

Historical Milestones (1961-1977)


Eugene W. “Bud” Leake, who studied painting at Yale, becomes president. Enrollment increases dramatically in Leake’s first year; MICA outgrows Main Building. Overflow classes temporarily housed in the vacant Mount Royal Station (B&O passenger service had ceased in 1959). “Loose Caboose” costume ball held by students in Station; Gay Nineties theme hearkens back to 1896, the year it opened.


MICA converts auto repair shop on Dolphin Street (halfway between Main Building and Mount Royal Station) into studios. Dolphin Building becomes printmaking center in the late 1970s. First-ever Annual Fund drive raises $3,000; grows to more than $100,000 over the next decade.


College purchases Mount Royal Station, along with three acres of land and air rights over the tracks. MICA trustees work with B&O directors to make acquisition possible and save the landmark from demolition. Major renovation undertaken. Hoffberger Foundation grant towards $1 million capital campaign was the largest received since Andrew Carnegie helped fund the construction of the Main Building. Station’s transformation, overseen by the architectural firm Cochran, Stephenson and Donkervoet (CS&D), creates space for studios, library, auditorium, and gallery while retaining the building’s historic character. Rinehart School of Sculpture occupies former baggage area. New York Times calls station’s conversion –one of the earliest examples of adaptive reuse—“the keystone of a new urban movement.” Station added to National Register of Historic Places and given National Landmark status in the 1970s. Guest critics and lecturers grow in number; visiting artists and scholars in the 1960s included: anthropologist Margaret Mead; painters Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Indiana, Alex Katz, Fairfield Porter, and Clyfford Still; sculptors David Hare and George Segal; filmmakers Stan Brakhage and Jonas Mekas; and pop artist Peter Max.


Graduate painting program established in 1961 renamed Hoffberger School of Painting in recognition of a major grant from the Hoffberger Foundation. Grace Hartigan, a leading member of the Abstract Expressionist movement in New York who relocated to Baltimore in the early 1960s, is appointed the director.

Learn more about MICA's Hoffberger School of Painting


MICA and five other institutions form the Union of Independent Colleges of Art, the forerunner of present-day art school consortiums including the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), of which MICA was also a founding member. Library in Mount Royal StationMaryland Institute is fully accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Accreditation recognizes expansion and stability achieved under Leake’s tenure: broadening of fine arts curricula; securing full-time liberal arts faculty; tripling of the student body (from some 300 students to more than 900); and growth of facilities and library. MICA sponsors Maryland’s first major film festival, along with Goucher College and The Johns Hopkins University, featuring experimental work submitted by students, faculty, and pioneering national figures.

Learn more about AICAD


Art historian Dr. Theodore E. "Ted" Klitzke becomes vice president of academic affairs and academic dean (1968–1982); further strengthens humanities programs. College appoints its first Poet-in-Residence, Jonathan Williams. New national Alumni Association and Board established to connect with the growing network of alumni across the country. Alumni representative appointed to the Board of Trustees. The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sets off three days and four nights of rioting in Baltimore; MICA closes. Today, MICA honors the life and legacy of Dr. King through its annual Unity Week celebration. MICA hosts conference on the future of the Mount Royal area that fuels the development of a cultural district, eventually leading to the construction of Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and other positive developments. Plan for a new MICA facility adjacent to the Mount Royal Station designed by Architect Louis Kahn, H’68 stimulates discussion.


Alumni Association opens and operates a gallery in Baltimore’s Fells Point for 11 years. Liberal arts exchange program begins with Goucher College; other exchange programs soon follow with The Johns Hopkins University, Loyola College, and the University of Baltimore.


Maryland Institute students and faculty celebrate first Earth Day on April 22 by planting trees on campus. Art supply/bookstore Expanded Art supply/bookstore opened on the corner of Mt. Royal and Dolphin in the former tire shop, “recycling” another condemned building.

Click here to visit the online MICA Art Store


MICA awards its first MFA in photography. Maryland Independent Colleges and University Association (MICUA) established. Maryland Institute among those who played a role in its organization, along with Goucher College, Loyola College, The Johns Hopkins University, and St. John’s College (Annapolis). One ton peanut butter sandwich made by MICA students at Mount Royal Station entered in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Learn more about MICUA


Student services expanded to meet growing financial aid, career, and recreational needs. Campus life in the 1970s also sparked by appearances of well-known artists and scholars including: avant-garde composer John Cage; designer Victor Papanek; poet Allen Ginsberg; critics Clement Greenberg and Roberta Smith; photographer Walker Evans; painters Sam Gilliam, Philip Guston, Elaine de Kooning, Wolf Kahn, and Lowell Nesbitt; master printer Kenneth Tyler; sculptor Robert Engman; and mixed-media/performance artists Eric Staller and Pat Olesko.


Eugene Leake steps down as president in order to paint full time. Dean Theodore Klitzke appointed acting president.


William Finn appointed president for a term of nearly two years; when he resigns, Ted Klitzke is again appointed acting president. Mount Royal School of Art students Second graduate program in painting and other media—later named Mount Royal School of Art—established with studios in rented loft space on Guilford Avenue. Paintings by Hoffberger students, alumni and faculty tour Europe in two-year traveling exhibition sponsored by the federal government; cities on the tour included Paris, Rome and Milan.


Leake Studio, created over the original two-story gallery on the second floor of Main Building, dedicated. Dr. Leslie King-Hammond becomes dean of graduate programs; serves as President of the College Art Association in 1990s.

Learn more about the College Art Association