New Leader For Rocky Mountain College Of Art and Design

June 12, 2015
Photo: Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design campus in Lakewood, Colo. 

Sage Ann Scheer has been named the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design's new president, the second person to hold that post in five years.

She takes over the private, for-profit institution based in Lakewood after serving as RMCAD’s chairman of the academic affairs subcommittee since 2009 and as board chair since 2014. Scheer joined the board of directors in 1992.

“She clearly stood out as an expert in the education industry, with more than 40 years of experience,” RMCAD communications manager Kristine Kilbourne said. “She knows who we are as an institution. She knows our students and she knows where we’re headed.”

Photo: RMCAD President Sage Ann Scheer
RMCAD President Sage Ann Scheer.

Scheer succeeds Maria Puzziferro, who in January told the board she intended to leave and then submitted her resignation letter in April.

“She made the decision to move her family to a warmer climate,” Kilbourne said.

This marks another significant personnel change for RMCAD, which has seen turnover in key positions including deans, registrar and department chairs since 2009.

In 2010, a group of private investors with ties to a number of for-profit schools bought out the Steele family, who founded RMCAD in 1963. That led to a new academic calendar, teaching models, programs and classes with a greater emphasis on online education. The major transition prompted the departure of some staff, faculty and students.

But Scheer says RMCAD has put this “rough patch” behind it, adding that some students and employees have since returned.

“This institution has done a 180 from a year ago to where it is right now,” Scheer said. “The energy, the vibrance, the true feel of community is much more prevalent.”

Former RMCAD vice president Julie Stewart-Pollack, who resigned in 2012, says appointing someone from outside the school could have brought fresh ideas and approaches to the college.

“I hope Dr. Scheer can lead RMCAD into a brighter future but am disappointed for the college that their perspective remains so insular when it come to leadership,” she said in an email to CPR News.

RMCAD reports an increase in enrollment over the last year, with about 600 online students and about 600 on-campus students. The latter group also takes some lecture-based classes online.

Officials from the Higher Learning Commission visited RMCAD last year as part of a standard continued accreditation process. The Commission regionally accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions like the University of Colorado and the Art Institute of Colorado.

RMCAD is awaiting final confirmation of its accreditation status, but Scheer says preliminary reports indicate the school met all of the criteria. Scheer adds that the Commission also approved two new degree programs for creative writing and business for the creative industries. 

RMCAD hopes to develop more new programs and to grow the faculty and enrollment, Scheer says. The school has ramped up its national and international recruiting efforts.

“I hope we always stay in a state of change and evolution,” the new president said. “The legacy that I would like to leave is that I helped to foster an open, transparent and honest environment in which ideas are pursued and challenged, where the creative mind is free to explore within the societal constraints. But that all of this leads to growth.”