Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar (photo by Lauren Bieri)
In mid-December, the Kansas City Art Institute announced the appointment of Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar as the college’s 25th president. Her appointment concludes a seven-month national search that resulted in a unanimous vote of approval.
Neuhold-Ravikumar comes to KCAI from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, where she is acting director. She joins KCAI June 1, succeeding Tony Jones as president and holder of the Nerman Family Presidency. Board of Trustees chair Sue Nerman, who also served on the search committee, said Neuhold-Ravikumar was “an unconventional candidate from the beginning since she has not been the president of a college,” but that she impressed the search committee with her “intelligence and creativity, innovative approach to learning and teaching, strong leadership skills, and commitment to community partnerships.”
Neuhold-Ravikumar grew up in Chennai, India, and earned a BFA from Stella Maris College in India and an MFA in graphic design from Iowa State University.
Prior to her Smithsonian post, she served as the director of education for Cooper Hewitt and associate provost of education and access and acting undersecretary for education at the Smithsonian Institution. Before that, she held the positions of professor of graphic design, director of graduate programs, and associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Design at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. She is married to Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar, president of the University of Central Oklahoma.
Trustee and search committee co-chair Laura Flanigan reports that during her multiple day visit to campus, Neuhold-Ravikumar “demonstrated her understanding of the challenges of arts education and her mastery of key administrative processes, her sense of humor, energy, and respect for the work and lives of students, faculty and staff.”
When “KC Studio” asked what attracted her to KCAI, Neuhold-Ravikumar cited the school’s “long and impressive history of supporting and developing creative professionals.”
“I had the opportunity to meet KCAI students in person, and during my conversations with them it became apparent that KCAI is more than a higher educational institution, it’s a nurturing creative community,” she added. “They inspired me, and I knew instantly that this was the community that I could support, protect, serve and grow.”
And she comes with a vision: “My goal is to help KCAI develop a collective vision for itself that includes the voices of students, faculty, staff, the board and other stakeholders,” Neuhold-Ravikumar said. I intend to focus on making sure that KCAI’s offerings and experiences are relevant and responsive to the changing needs of students and the community at-large.”