Karen P. Moynahan, one of the nation’s most accomplished arts executives in higher education, will be the keynote speaker for Watkins College of Art, Design & Film’s 2015 Commencement on Saturday, May 16. The graduation ceremonies will be held at the Downtown Presbyterian Church, 154 Fifth Avenue North, at 2 p.m., and the public is invited.
Ms. Moynahan is executive director of four independent and autonomous accrediting organizations–the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the National Association of Schools of Music, the National Association of Schools of Theatre, and the National Association of Schools of Dance–that work with more than 1,300 postsecondary institutions and programs throughout the United States by offering the service of discipline-specific peer review. She also oversees and manages the Higher Education Arts Data Services project, a joint effort of the four organizations to provide comprehensive management data on the arts in higher education.
Ellen L. Meyer, president of Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, described Ms. Moynahan as “a tireless champion of the arts with an unrivaled view of the interconnectedness of the disciplines of art, design, film, music, theatre and dance.”
Based in Reston, Virginia, Ms. Moynahan is a trustee and the executive director of the Council of Arts Accrediting Associations, a forum for policy discussions regarding the arts, education, and accreditation. She also serves as the executive director of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Precollegiate Arts Schools, a body established to review and accredit schools and programs providing non-degree instruction in the arts disciplines to children, youth, and adults. She holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland, and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. A member of the advisory board of Arts Education Policy Review, Ms. Moynahan consults regularly with specialized and regional accrediting bodies; state and federal offices; higher education and arts organizations; international institutions seeking information or assistance; and students, parents and the public regarding the work of the arts accrediting organizations and their programs.
After a welcome from Watkins President Meyer, Ms. Moynahan will deliver the Commencement address. Following her remarks, Vice President for Academic Affairs Joy McKenzie will present BFA, BA and Certificate candidates in art, film, fine art, graphic design, interior design and photography, and Samuel E. Stumpf, Jr., chair of the Watkins Board of Trustees, will confer the degrees and certificates.
The Class of 2015 will be the last to graduate under the leadership of President Meyer, who is retiring July 31 after seven years in office. Ms. Meyer began her work as the institution’s 15th president on August 1, 2008. Under her energetic leadership, she has led Watkins to a place of recognition and prestige among the best colleges of art in the country.
Achievements include the realization of a decade-long goal of regional accreditation of the college through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC, in 2010) and re-accreditation of the Department of Interior Design by Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the national accrediting agency for art and design and art and design-related disciplines. In 2011, Watkins gained acceptance into the prestigious Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), a consortium of 43 leading visual arts colleges in the United States and Canada.
Under President Meyer’s guidance, community partnerships expanded, the campus itself experienced significant transformation, and academic standards have consistently been raised in Watkins’ BFA degree programs in Film, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Interior Design and Photography, BA in Art, and Certificate in Film and (added 2013) in Interior Design. Notably, in the midst of a national economic downturn, Watkins has remained fiscally sound, achieved high-level fundraising, and established a professional admissions office with increasingly sophisticated student recruitment efforts.
The historic Downtown Presbyterian Church, a national landmark noted for its Egyptian Revival motif, is located at 154 5th Avenue North (corner of 5th and Church Street).