MICA History

Becoming the Leader

Historical Milestones (1978-Today)


Fred Lazarus IV inaugurated as president. Lazarus, then 36 years old, brought a background in business and the arts to his new role, including several years as top assistant to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. MICA’s first five-year plan adopted, focuses on addressing need for instructional space. Renovation of the former Cannon Shoe building directly across Mount Royal Avenue from the Main Building begins. Addition of this four-floor warehouse, completed in 1980, nearly doubles the college’s academic space and helpFox Building s consolidate fragmented campus. Named Fox Building in honor of Charles James Fox (class of 1885), in gratitude for gifts made by his daughter, Hazel Fox, and grandson, Alonzo G. Decker, Jr., Chairman of Black and Decker, and longtime MICA Trustee. Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Gallery in Fox Building, dedicated 1981, enables exhibition program to expand.


Rev. Richard B. Kalter, PhD, poet, painter, theologian, appointed Philosopher-in-Residence after 20 years teaching at Yale, brings ideas and people together at MICA for 25 years until his death in 2004.


Trustee Awards for Teaching Excellence established; Distinguished Alumni Award followed in 1982.


First major merit scholarship endowment program—Fanny Blaustein Thalheimer Scholarship—established.


Fred Lazarus works with arts community and the city to create alternative space gallery—Maryland Art Place (MAP)—and locate a new citywide summer arts festival, Artscape, along Mount Royal Avenue. Three-day arts extravaganza becomes America’s largest free public arts festival.

Learn more about MAP


Barbara Price appointed vice president for academic affairs and academic dean, assumes office in 1983; expands curriculum. College increases international programming: brings artists and exhibitions to campus from countries including Cuba, China, and India. The Starr Foundation enables MICA to expand recruitment of international students. The student body at the time hailed from more than 20 countries; today the number is more than 40 countries represented.


First computers (Apple IIe models) used by students in Graphic Design department.


Mt. Royal Station renovated again; train shed roof replaced (one of the last gable-roof sheds in existence).


MICA partners with Ford Foundation to launch five-year National Fellowship Program for Visual Artists of Color to provide scholarships for minorities to earn their MFA and thus have credentials to teach at the college and university level. Well-known Baltimore artist Tom Miller ’67, ‘87 is among the first fellowship recipients. Program continued for another five years by Philip Morris Companies in 1990. "Black Mountain Revisited" poetry series, developed by poet and faculty member Joe Cardarelli, brings Beat Generation poets Joel Oppenheimer, Ed Dorn, Robert Creeley, Jonathan Williams, and Robert Duncan to MICA in the spring of 1985.


College Center opens in converted office space and railway Union Hall two doors up from bookstore, providing cafeteria, meeting space and exhibition space. Now houses Art Tech/Center, digital media and animation labs. Parents Council established and Alumni Association restructured to adopt Alumni Council model: both Councils focus on increasing communication between College and respective constituencies, meet annually, sponsor activities on MICA campus and in regions throughout the country. Both Councils have representatives on Board of Trustees. Endowments created to help fund exhibitions, lectures and visiting artist residencies on an ongoing basis beginning with Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Special Programs Endowment. Amalie Rothschild ’34 Residency Program and The Rouse Company Program established soon thereafter. Guest critics and lecturers in the 1980s included: conceptual artists Barbara Kruger and British duo Gilbert & George; designers Seymour Chwast and Philip Meggs; environmental artists Helen and Newton Harrison; painters Gene Davis, Elizabeth Murray, Alice Neel, and Neil Welliver; installation/fiber artist Ann Hamilton; poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Andrei Codrescu; and printmaker Robert Blackburn. 1987.

Learn more about the Parents Coucil


Master of Arts in Teaching launched offering graduate level preparation for teaching art K-12. Combined BFA/MAT program begins three years later, offers full studio major integrated with art education coursework in a five-year format. MICA’s Center for Art Education is named for Dr. Al Hurwitz ‘41, Chair Emeritus in Art Education in 1999, who laid the groundwork for the MAT program.

Learn more about MICA's Master of Arts in Teaching


MICA moves its commencement ceremonies to Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Held for many years in the Lyric Opera House, beginning in the mid 1960s, commencement ceremonies were conducted outdoors at the Mount Royal Station as well as the Bolton Hill churches Corpus Christi and Brown Memorial.


First summer study abroad programs established in Italy, Greece and Canada. Open Studies program on campus also broadened; enrollment surpasses 2,000 students by the end of the 90s. Jewelry Center at Meadow Mill opens 1992.

Learn more about MICA's Open Studies programs


Main Building undergoes first major renovation over two summers to clean the exterior and Main Court, update its infrastructure, and create additional academic and office space. Japanese sculptors in residence and students at MICA construct a 33-foot high wooden sculpture of Fudo Myo-oh, an incarnation of Buddha—the largest of its kind ever made. Participating MICA students organize and raise funds for student exhibit in Hiroshima, Japan in 1992. Project further strengthens college’s ties to Japan, which date back to 1981 when Fred Lazarus first visited Osaka University of Arts to initiate exchange programs there.


MICA and Contemporary Museum present a national exhibition in recognition of "A Day Without Art" and "AIDS Awareness Day."


First MICA-built student residence, The Commons, opens, housing 350 students, mostly freshmen. New dorm planned in partnership with Bolton Hill neighborhood helps attract and retain students from other states and countries and revitalizes vacant lot three blocks north of the Main Building, creating a safer, more attractive area for students and the community. Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development established, named in honor of endowment from the Joseph & Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds. Additional staff allows expansion of program, number of students and young alumni served. First Alumni Career Day held. (Career Center moves from row house to Gateway in 2008.) MICA exhibition, “Beyond Glory: Re-Presenting Terrorism,” and symposium, “The Politics and Imagery of Terrorism,” is one of the first mixed-media shows to examine the issue of international terrorism.

Learn more about MICA's Center for Career Development


Summer Pre-College Studio Residency Program established at MICA; now attracts over 200 high school students a year from across the country. Similar programs later offered in Aix-en-Provence and most recently, Tuscany. Artafare hosts, 2005 First Artafare gala held as a fundraiser for community programs. Themed party rooms created by MICA students reminiscent of the Fete of Lights.

Learn more about MICA's Summer Pre-College program


Raymond Allen, who had been a member of MICA’s painting faculty for 13 years and chair of the Foundation Program before leaving in 1983 to become academic dean at Maine College of Art, returns to MICA as vice president for academic affairs and academic dean (now provost); focuses on establishing design culture and liberal arts programs of stature equal to MICA’s fine arts disciplines. Later serves as president of National Association of Schools of Art and Design. US News and World Report ranks MICA in the top tier of art colleges—until ranking of undergraduate fine arts programs was discontinued, MICA was consistently ranked in the top four nationally.

Learn more about the National Association of Schools of Art and Design


Lucas Collection permanently transferred to Baltimore Museum of Art and Walters Art Museum. Funds MICA receives in exchange are invested in the college’s endowment to further develop the educational program. Agreement allows collection to remain intact in the native city of its namesake, George A. Lucas.


MICA becomes administrator of the Alfred & Trafford Klots Artist Residency Program for established artists and writers in Rochefort-en-Terre, Brittany. Friends of Rochefort provide support.


Renovation of former Maryland AAA headquarters adjacent to Fox Building increases MICA’s academic space by 20 percent; renamed Bunting Center in honor of long time trustee George Bunting. AIA-award winning conversion allows for the relocation and expansion of Decker Library, Media Resources collection, and several academic departments. New gallery, named Pinkard Gallery in honor of former trustee Walter D. Pinkard, Sr., is added, further expanding the exhibition program.


Fred Lazarus becomes Chairman of the Board of Americans for the Arts, the newly created advocacy organization formed to strengthen support for the arts at the national and local levels.

Learn more about Americans for the Arts


Graduate program in digital arts created to meet growing opportunities for artists and designers skilled in digital technology (now part of MICA’s MFA program in photographic and electronic media). Baltimore Collegetown Network created to enhance the academic and social experience of the Baltimore region’s more than 100,000 college students, and to enable member colleges to share resources. Seven-year capital campaign raises $23 million for facilities and endowment—twice the amount raised in the 1980s. Ever-growing array of visiting artists and lecturers in the 1990s included: computer graphics pioneer Mihai Nadin; art critic Jerry Saltz; ceramic artist Rudy Autio; conceptual/ecological artist Mel Chin; designers Milton Glaser and Steven Heller; fiber artist Lenore Tawney; mixed-media artist Jane Hammond; painters Robert Natkin, Denise Green, and Louisa Chase; illustrator/activist Sue Coe; poet Amiri Baraka; multi-media designer Mieke Gerritzen; photographer/filmmaker Laurie Simmons; and sculptor Michael Singer.

Learn more about the Baltimore Collegetown Network


Two MICA alumnae, designer Ethel Kessler ‘71 worked on the typography and illustrator Whitney Sherman ‘71 created the artwork for USPS’s Breast Cancer Research stamp, the nation’s first-ever fundraising stamp. To date, the stamp has raised more than $58 million for breast cancer research and prevention.


Fred Lazarus’ 20th anniversary celebrated with a Bow Tie Ball attended by 1,000 students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, parents, neighbors, and Baltimore community members. Gifts in honor of the 20th anniversary create the President’s Fund for Community Projects. Community arts projectMICA is one of six colleges and universities nationally selected to create a Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) program with seed funding from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund—an initiative built on the growing student interest in community service during the 90s. MICA’s successful CAP program is the foundation for the College’s MA in Community Arts and other community-based programs today.


Kramer House, the Bolton Hill home and studio of Reuben Kramer ’34 and Perna Krick ’32 (both Rinehart alumni), bequeathed to MICA and renovated as a residence for international visiting artists and other guests. MICA and Baltimore Museum of Art collaborate on Joyce J. Scott: Kickin' It With the Old Masters, a major exhibition featuring the work of mixed-media artist Scott ’70. Exhibition drew more than 100,000 visitors to the BMA and has since toured to ten other museums. Organized by George Ciscle, MICA’s Curator-in-Residence, and students in his Exhibition Development Seminar (EDS)—a unique cross-disciplinary class begun in 1997 that has become a national model for engaging students and the community in the curatorial process.


First electronic arts concentrations offered in animation, video, digital media. Growing demand also leads to creation of new majors in these fields. Graduates take the lead in emerging industries like computer game design; Hunt Valley, MD becomes the second largest center of computer gaming in the US after Silicon Valley. Comma eliminated from the college’s name: Maryland Institute College of Art. Board adopts Plan for the 21st Century: Integrating new technologies into traditional studio practices and expanding facilities to meet changing needs and accommodate growth of student body, are among its chief goals.


MICA celebrates its 175th anniversary with special lecture series featuring international authorities on art, science, and culture including: art critic Arthur Danto; light and space artist James Turrell; and scientist Stephen J. Gould. MICA acquires the historic 1903 firehouse on North Avenue and renovates it as a new home for its Operations division. Internationally known artists Lynda Benglis, Chuck Close, Jim Dine, and MICA alumni Donald Baechler ’78, Lesley Dill ’80 (Mount Royal) and Christy Rupp ’77 (Rinehart) featured in MICA exhibit. New work by David Byrne, multi-media artist who studied at MICA in the 1970s prior to forming the band Talking Heads, premiered at the college the same year. Undergraduate design department at MICA forms partnership with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHBSPH) to develop public health campaigns addressing issues such as HIV/AIDS, lead paint, air pollution, and hypertension. Projects produced in the MICA/JHU Design Coalition class have been presented at design conferences worldwide. After the tragic events of 9/11/2001, painter and MICA instructor Barbara Marcus creates The Face of Courage Project to provide families of fallen New York City firefighters and police officers with portraits of their loved ones and to organize these paintings in a traveling exhibition. More than 35 artists, many MICA alumni and teachers, participate nationwide.


MICA opens Meyerhoff House (Lafayette Ave and John Street), former Hospital for the Women of Baltimore (established in 1882), as its second student residence. Named in recognition of Robert and Jane Meyerhoff, the facility includes the College’s main dining hall, a fitness center, the offices of student activities, music room and student space gallery. Enhanced student life services supports 20 new students clubs and organizations. MICA plays a leadership role in the creation of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District and ongoing revitalization efforts in Midtown Baltimore. Former Jos. A. Bank Building (now Fred Lazarus IV Center) along North Avenue acquired by the College in 2000 becomes an important anchor of Station North.

Learn more about Baltimore's Station North Arts and Entertainment District


MICA opens Brown Center, its first newly constructed academic facility in nearly 100 years. Named in recognition of the College’s largest single gift—$6 million from Eddie and Sylvia Brown and family (also the largest gift to higher education by an African American family in US history). Designed by Charles Brickbauer with Ziger/Snead Architects, the center for digital art and design was dedicated at a gala in October 2003 with 3,500 in attendance. Glass-clad landmark garners wide acclaim: “…simply the finest modern building erected in Baltimore or Washington since I.M. Pei’s East building of the National Gallery of Art in 1978,”said Architectural Record. Through programming in Brown Center’s new 525-seat Falvey Hall, named in honor of gift from Alice Falvey Greif and her husband, Roger, MICA dramatically expands public programming and becomes a premiere venue for over 100 events a year. Front cover of Graphic Design: The New BasicsMICA inaugurates MFA in graphic design. MICA and the University of Baltimore launch the Creative Entrepreneurship Program to provide business tools for creative professionals.

Learn more about MICA's M.F.A. in Graphic Design


MICA's first endowed chair established, funded by a gift from Florence Gaskins Harper ‘34 in 2004 for the dean of Art Education. Sally’s GardenCohen Plaza dedicated: converts parking lot into vibrant green space between Brown Center, Fox Building, and Bunting Center. New quad continues the "greening" of MICA’s urban campus, which now includes Sally’s Garden (1200 block Mount Royal Ave); Edwin A. Daniels, Jr. Inner Courtyard and Alex. Brown Garden (Meyerhoff House); Frost Plaza and Worthington Triangle (Mount Royal Station); public plaza and Rett’s Courtyard (The Gateway).


MICA launches nation’s first Master of Arts in Community Arts (MACA) program to serve visual artists who wish to pursue careers in art-based community development. Professional growth opportunities for students in this field also supported by the creation of the Community Art Corps program in 2004 and France-Merrick fellowships for student leaders in the CAP program in 2003. Jeff Koons ’76, one of the leading figures in the contemporary art world, is among the featured speakers in MICA’s distinguished senior thesis seminar lecture series, Artists on Mondays. Other guest critics and lecturers continue to spur exchange of ideas including: architects Lawrence Scarpa and Rafael Vinoly; curator Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims; electronic media artists Jim Campbell and David Clark; filmmakers Trinh T. Minh-ha, Barry Levinson, and D. A. Pennebaker; graphic designers Jan van Toorn and John Maeda (now president of RISD); illustrators Marhsall Arisman, Henrik Drescher, and Anita Kuntz; painters Eric Fischl and Terry Winters; photographer William Wegman; poets Galway Kinnell and Ishmael Reed; sculptor/installation artist Krzysztof Wodiczko; and virtual reality pioneer Scott Fisher.

Learn more about MICA's M.F.A. in Community Arts


Renovation of Mount Royal Station undertaken to increase and update sculpture classrooms and restore the historic building, named an Official Project of Save America’s Treasures in 2005. Middendorf Gallery established. New entry at Frost Plaza features historical timeline tracing the development of (and relationship between) railroad and the College. MICA partners with the City to rejuvenate Pearlstone Park adjacent to Mount Royal Station and Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in 2008. First annual Constitution Day conference held at MICA recognizing the ratification of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. Ralph Nader, Helen Thomas, Jesse Jackson and John Waters among recent participants.


MICA launches its first liberal arts BFA, in art history, theory, and criticism. A doubling of its liberal arts faculty over the past ten years enables MICA to offer broadest array of academic courses of any art college. Interdisciplinary study also made possible by 10 new concentrations established since 2000. Alpha EtaMarcella Brenner H’01, distinguished educator and the widow of painter and MICA alumnus Morris Louis ’32, establishes MICA’s largest endowment fund for faculty development. Brenner, also creator of two student scholarships, donated Louis’ painting Alpha Eta on display in Brown Center.

Learn more about MICA's B.F.A. in Art History, Theory, and Criticism


MICA named first nationally in its category as a producer of Fulbright Fellows by The Chronicle of Higher Education for 2006–2007. Expansion of international programs continues: Open Studies broadens international opportunities through creative Summer Travel Intensives; over a dozen new global exchange programs instituted; number of students studying overseas triples.

Learn more about Study Abroad and Exchange at MICA


Campaign launched in 2000 reaches $75 million thanks to the generosity of numerous donors; Annual Fund doubles from $900,000 to over $2.1 million. Brown & Gelman scholars, 2007 Growth in endowment increases MICA's ability to provide scholarships and foster a diverse, talented student body. First "full ride" scholarships established by the Brown family and the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Trust. MICA creates two new centers to develop best practices in the areas of design: Center for Design Thinking, devoted to research and publication on issues of contemporary design, and Center for Design Practice, a multi-disciplinary studio that brings students together with educators, entrepreneurs, and businesses to pursue new design solutions. MICA’s first endowed chair in painting established by Genevieve McMillan of Cambridge, MA, named for McMillan’s long-time friend, former MICA faculty member, and painter Reba Stewart. College expands efforts to create a sustainable campus and reduce its carbon footprint. MICA becomes second college in the City of Baltimore to implement “single-stream” recycling, while off-campus design students collaborate with the University of Maryland, College Park on Biodeisel University project to create a mobile classroom that runs on biodiesel fuel to educate people about sustainable sources of energy. Studio Center Studio Center restructured to accommodate MICA’s graduate programs including Hoffberger, Mount Royal, MFA in Photo and Electronic Media, as well as undergraduate studios and post-baccalaureate program. Since 2005, the Studio Center has also provided homes to three nonprofit groups: Maryland Lawyers for the Arts, Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc., and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance. College unveils new logo to provide a "graphic signature" for the MICA acronym.

Learn more about MICA's Center for Design Thinking


MICA opens The Gateway, a new student residence hall and the college’s first “green” building. Innovative live-work space conceived as a result of an international RTKL interoffice design competition won by the London team. Includes student apartments, studio tower, a black box theater named BBOX (in honor of Betty Cooke ’46 and Wm. O. Steinmetz ’50), meeting spaces, the Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development, a student space gallery, café, and an exterior plaza and fountain (Harriet’s Haven) and resident’s courtyard named Rett’s Courtyard by Dana and Charles Nearburg P’07 in memory of their son, Rett. Office of Research established. MICA is the first art college in the United States to appoint a senior academic position for research, with a focus on developing strategic collaborations in emerging and established industries involving artists and designers: from public health communications to entertainment to interface and product design. MICA launches the Center for Race and Culture to support and disseminate research on the ways in which considerations of race, culture, and identity inform the practice and interpretation in contemporary art and design. MFA studioMICA’s Master of Fine Arts programs, which experienced a 48% increase in enrollment since 2000, are ranked among the top tier in the nation, with those of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Yale University, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, by U.S. News & World Report in its “Best Graduate Schools” edition, released in the spring of 2008. Preservation Maryland honors Fred Lazarus with its Stewardship Award recognizing the college’s 30 years of stewardship and adaptive reuse of the historic buildings that comprise MICA’s campus during his leadership. New Office of Diversity and Intercultural Development established to address issues of culture, class, race, gender, and sexuality among the student body and campus community—a critical piece of MICA’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative begun in 2005 to create a campus that is welcoming to individuals of all backgrounds.


Fred Lazarus marks his 30th year as MICA’s president having overseen a period of unprecedented expansion and leadership, which since 2000 has included: a 43 percent increase in enrollment; a doubling of the College’s endowment from $30 million to $60 million; the addition of over 160,000 square feet of academic space and 120,000 square feet of residential space; the creation of seven new undergraduate and graduate programs; and a deepening commitment to community collaboration and international engagement.


Samuel Hoi is named president and becomes MICA's 18th leader.