Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Ferris State University’s Kendall College of Art and Design.
As CEO of the nation’s preeminent designer trade association, Kolb will be awarded an honorary degree during KCAD’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 10. The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Fountain Street Church located at 24 Fountain Street NE in Grand Rapids. Kolb said that he felt proud as he learned the news of the honorary doctorate that he would receive from KCAD as a result of action approved by Ferris’ Board of Trustees.
“I have not received anything like this before so I feel quite proud to be recognized and I am appreciative that my work with the CFDA has brought me to Ferris State University and Kendall College of Art and Design,” said Kolb, oversees all operations and activities for CFDA, which has a membership that consists of more than 400 of America’s leading clothing, jewelry and accessory designers. “It was great news and an honor that I happily accepted.”
Through his work, Kolb has helped to nurture the next generation of American designers through programs such as the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, an endowment that provides financial assistance and mentoring to the most promising American designers. This effort has strengthened design education through high school-and college-level scholarship programs and was responsible for a $5 million endowment that established the Geoffrey Beene Design Scholarship and a $1 million endowment in the name of Liz Claiborne.
Kolb also oversees the Teen Vogue Scholarship supported by Target and the Gilt All-Stars Scholarship. In 2010, Kolb partnered with the City of New York, Newmark Knight Frank, and the NYC Economic Development Corporation to create the CFDA Fashion Incubator, a program that provides up-and-coming designers with mentorships and low-cost studio space in the heart of NYC’s garment district.
In his work with the CFDA Foundation, Kolb manages Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, a global breast cancer initiative which to date has raised and distributed more than $40 million. He has been a key player in the ongoing 7th on Sale initiative, an industry-wide event that has raised almost $20 million for the New York City AIDS Fund. Additionally, he is a liaison with the Fund to determine distribution of monies raised. He can also be credited with the 2007 establishment of the CFDA Health Initiative, directly addressing the concerns of model health in the fashion industry. Kolb mobilized the industry in 2010 to raise $1 million for victims of the Haiti earthquake and again in 2011 to raise $400,000 for Japan earthquake and tsunami survivors. He has also been involved with groups promoting HIV and AIDS awareness, education and prevention campaigns.
Kolb holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Glassboro State College and a Master in Public Administration from New York University.
Approximately 195 of 227 students who are eligible for graduation from KCAD are expected to participate in the ceremony.
Kolb’s message to graduates will be to understand their individual strengths and weaknesses and to never stop learning.
“No one is perfect in life,” he said. “I will encourage graduates to remember that as they enter the workforce. Learning from a mistake is just one step away from getting it right the next time.”
Graduates will be honored during six total ceremonies. The five ceremonies in Big
Rapids are: On Friday, May 9 at 3:30 p.m. for the College of Health Professions and
at 7 p.m. for the colleges of Arts, Sciences and Education, Pharmacy and the Doctorate
in Community College Leadership; and on Saturday, May 10 at 9 a.m. for the College
of Engineering Technology, 12:30 p.m. for the College of Business and 4 p.m. for the
College of Education and Human Services and the Michigan College of Optometry. KCAD’s
commencement takes place on Saturday, May 10.
Also receiving Honorary Doctorates will be James Gartner and Susan P. Wheatlake. James Gartner has been honored twice as the recipient of the Directors Guild of America Award for “Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials.” He has earned hundreds of other awards, including two Emmy’s and multiple Gold Lions at Cannes. Gartner’s feature film, Glory Road, opened at number one in box-office receipts in 2006. Through her personal advocacy and effort, Susan P. Wheatlake, a Ferris State University attendee, has been instrumental in raising funds to establish and build the Susan P. Wheatlake Cancer Center at both the Mecosta County Medical Center in Big Rapids and Reed City Hospital. In these efforts she has been a tireless supporter of raising both money and awareness for cancer research. One of her many efforts has been the establishment of the annual Susan P. Wheatlake 5K run in support of cancer research.