Smith-Buonanno Family Director of Contemporary Practices

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Smith-Buonanno Family Director of Contemporary Practices is a leadership position at SAIC and is responsible for working with the faculty in developing the curricular and programmatic initiatives of the Department. The Director is expected to demonstrate a commitment to the mission of the Department of Contemporary Practices: to maintain the “contemporary” in Contemporary Practices, while also underscoring the importance of fundamental skills, interdisciplinary practices, and critical thinking that are part of SAIC’s curriculum. The primary responsibility of the Director is to work with the faculty to develop and maintain innovative courses and to select faculty to teach those courses. Other duties include facilities planning and oversight, budget and resource allocation, as well as evaluating curriculum and faculty performance. The Director works in partnership with the Undergraduate Division, Student Affairs, and the chairs of twenty-four studio and academic departments. In addition, the Director is an outward facing member of the SAIC community who connects with the School at large, potential students, and the city of Chicago.


A selection of primary responsibilities of the Director include:

● Providing leadership in implementing a long-term vision for the Contemporary Practices curriculum, upholding the departmental commitment of innovating and integrating an anti-racist and decolonized curriculum into a studio-based curriculum.

● Providing advocacy for Contemporary Practices students, faculty, and departmental needs.

● Liaising with institutional, departmental, and program leaders throughout SAIC to ensure alignment of the Contemporary Practices curriculum with evolving departmental and institutional needs.

● Directing and mentoring full-time faculty in their departmental service responsibilities, including the Departmental Faculty

Coordinator, who supports and oversees part-time faculty development, and the Departmental Curriculum Coordinator, who supervises and facilitates departmental curricular development and assessment.

● The Director works departmentally with the CP assessment committee to envision and implement meaningful and creative assessment models to support effective teaching of the CP learning goals and course learning outcomes, while also engaging with broader schoolwide accreditation cycles.

● In consultation with the Faculty Coordinator and Administrative Director, scheduling faculty for all Contemporary Practices classes.

● Participation in managing the administrative staff. Collaborate with the Senior Administrative Director to develop departmental procedures and logistics.

● Working with the Senior Administrative Director to establish and monitor the operating and capital asset budgets Working with the Office of Advancement to secure student scholarships and funding for additional Contemporary Practices initiatives.

● The Director is a standing member of the following institutional committees: Undergraduate Recruitment Committee; Department

Heads; Undergraduate Cabinet; First Year Forum. The Director facilitates communication between these committees and the Contemporary Practices departmental faculty.

● Active participation in School governance.

● In addition to the above, the position of the Director involves numerous other responsibilities that range from ongoing administrative needs to departmental program review and assessment.


● MFA, terminal degree in an adjacent field, or equivalent professional experience is required.

● Candidates should have a minimum of five years of fulltime experience teaching foundation studio or equivalent first-year students; an ongoing history of recognized accomplishment in their field; and a demonstrated ability to work effectively with both faculty and staff as a manager and a mentor.

● Candidates should demonstrate their experience with, or aptitude for, departmental administration.

● Candidates should be prepared to demonstrate how they will contribute in meaningful ways to the department and SAIC’s shared commitment to anti-racism, cultural diversity, pluralism, and individual differences.

● The candidate for Director should have commensurate qualifications that would lead to a tenured appointment as an associate or full professor.

● The ideal candidate will contribute to the diversity of the School by bringing a perspective, way of thinking, and/or a unique set of experiences that expand the intellectual conversations and art/design practices within the fields of art and design.

How to Apply

On or before Wednesday, January 5, 2022, please submit application materials via

You will be asked to create an account after which time you may complete the application, comprised of fill-in fields and uploaded documents. You are encouraged to begin the application well before the deadline. No applications may be submitted beyond the deadline for any reason.

Complete the fields for: educational background; current position; and contact information for three professional references.

Please convert all word documents into PDFs before uploading. Required files to upload include:

● cover letter stating interests and qualifications;

● curriculum vitae;

● diversity statement;

● statement of teaching philosophy including details on how your teaching has supported the success of students from racial, ethnic, gender, and/or socio-economic backgrounds that are underrepresented in your academic field;

● documentation of a selection of professional work;

● statement of research and practice;

● statement of administrative philosophy.

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Posted on September 16