Power shift at Kendall College causing a stir

Apr 10, 2014

David Rosen helps present juried awards at ArtPrize 2013.
David Rosen helps present juried awards at ArtPrize 2013.
Credit Kendall College of Art and Design

The president of Kendall College of Art and Design, David Rosen, announced his resignation Thursday afternoon. It’s not clear why he resigned.

Students and staff rallied in support of Rosen in person and on social media.

Kendall is a college within Ferris State University. FSU spokesman Marc Sheehan says the reactions are “completely understandable.”

“This is news that people are going to have to process,” Sheehan said.

Kendall’s previous president, Oliver Evans, will come out of retirement to fill in as interim president.  Before Rosen was recruited in 2012, Evans ran Kendall College for nearly 20 years.

“Certainly what I hope is that when people see the commitment we have to the values of Kendall College of Art and Design by ... having Oliver agree to come back to lead the college ... that will help alleviate whatever anxiety people may have about David Rosen’s resignation,” Sheehan said.

Kendall alumna Gwen O’Brien chuckled at that notion. “I don’t know if I can comment on that, but I think it’s a really difficult place to be,” O’Brien said. “I think it’s wonderful that Oliver stepped up to help out.”

“David really set the bar for what it means to be a really dynamic leader in this city and I hope we see more of that. I hope that spirit doesn’t go away,” she said.

O’Brien, co-owner of Plenty Creative and president of a group of professional designers in West Michigan, says she watched Rosen work to connect creative professionals with Kendall students.

“What he did was really open up Kendall to the community and had Kendall participate more in the community, and I think that’s part of what people really love about David,” O’Brien said.

It’s not just folks in the creative world who are surprised and disappointed by Rosen’s resignation.

Bill Holsinger-Robinson worked with Rosen as a professor at Grand Valley State University and as a leader of TEDx Grand Rapids.

“Aside from the specific work that he was doing, I think he has really been a symbol of an opportunity for the region to change in a number of ways,” Holsinger-Robinson said.

He says Rosen was a progressive leader in Grand Rapids, one who bent over backward to work with a variety of people on all sorts of projects.