Long-time art advocate named first director of the Corcoran School

Updated: Aug. 4, 2015 at 2:10 p.m.

A long-standing art educator and former director of multiple art institutes will serve as the first-ever director of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, the University announced Tuesday.

Sanjit Sethi was the director of the Santa Fe Institute of Art for two years, where he ran programs that connected art students with other artists in the Sante Fe, N.M. area and around the world and collaborated with humanitarian groups like the Institute of American Indian Arts and the Taiwanese Ministry of Culture.

Sethi also led a fundraising campaign to renovate the institute and won funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for the project. GW plans to spendat least $25 million renovating the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which University President Steven Knapp said would have to be paid for partially through fundraising. Sethi’s connections could also help grow the Corcoran’s donor base, something GW’s fundraising officials have promised to focus on.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of a legacy institution like the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at the George Washington University,” Sethi said in a University release. “I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff and administrators across the Corcoran and GW to cultivate diverse forms of creative practice and educate the next generation of critical problem-solvers.”

Senthi will oversee the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’ transition of GW’s theater and dance programs to the Corcoran School, a move Provost Steven Lerman said would happen over the course of a few years. GW absorbed the historic art school last year.

Before working at SFIA, Sethi had experience working in higher education art as the director of the Center for Art and Public Life at the California College of the Arts. Sethi has exhibits of his own artwork on display around the world, including a collaborative work called “Building Nomads Project” in Bangalore, India, which he worked on as a Fulbright Scholar.

Dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Ben Vinson called Sethi “an accomplished artist and administrator” who is skilled in developing partnerships in the art world.

“In the course of his career, he has displayed a rare sensitivity to connecting with communities and promoting art for the greater good,” Vinson said in a release.

Sethi will begin his post as director on Oct. 1. He was selected by a panel of students, faculty, staff and alumni, who met with a search firm earlier this year. Last year, Vinson said the search was prioritizing candidates who would ease the school’s transition into the Columbian College.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported the University announced Sethi’s position on Monday. The University announced his position on Tuesday. We regret this error.

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