KCAD President Will Step Away from Presidency, Return to Faculty

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) announces that President Leslie Bellavance will step away from the presidency and her role as vice president of Ferris State University as of June 30, 2019, in order to return to teaching as a member of the faculty at KCAD as well as to return to her art practice.  

Bellavance is KCAD’s 13th president. She took the post in 2015.

“It has been my privilege to serve higher educational institutions and national organizations in leadership capacities that have supported innovation in teaching and learning, equity, and the creative spirit of art and design,” said Bellavance.  “I am most proud and honored to have served as KCAD’s leader and to advocate for its unique programs as well as its accomplished faculty, staff, students, and alumni. I am enthusiastic to return to teaching and my work as a multimedia artist. These pursuits have defined my professional and personal life.” 

Before coming to Grand Rapids, Bellavance served as the Dean, Director of Graduate Programs, and Professor at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Her career in higher education spans 38 years.  

During her tenure, Bellavance facilitated KCAD’s development of the Kendall College of Art and Design/Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) strategic plan, which is the first strategic plan combining the two institutions. By encouraging a collaborative process, a plan was created that authentically represents the college community and will positively influence the institution’s future direction. 

Also, at KCAD Bellavance supported faculty contributions to Grand Rapids Public School’s Museum School, where she also serves on its advisory board. She encouraged the UICA’s transformative mission to focus on equity and inclusion in contemporary art exhibition and discourse.

In the fall of 2018 Bellavance brought the annual conference of the National Council of Arts Administrators to Grand Rapids to address the theme of Purposeful Relationships: Transforming Communities Through Art and Design.  

Bellavance serves as a board member of Creative Many, Michigan’s statewide arts advocacy organization; and has served on the boards of the College Art Association, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and the National Council of Arts Administrators. 

In accepting Bellavance’s resignation, Ferris State University president David Eisler expressed his appreciation for her leadership. “Ms. Bellavance is an accomplished leader who has been a catalyst for keeping KCAD at the forefront of innovative art and design education. Her significant contributions have positively impacted the college’s and UICA’s future direction.” 

Eisler especially noted Bellavance’s dedication and passion for advancing KCAD’s and UICA’s 
missions, developing strong community partnerships that have enhanced teaching and learning, supporting academic program innovation, and creating strategic college and facilities master plans that will well position the institution for the future.  

Eisler said he plans to work with Bellavance between now and June 30 to seek input from the KCAD community before naming an interim president and beginning a national search for a new president.