Headed out.
Headed out. Courtesy of Cornish College of the Arts

When Cornish College of the Arts President Nancy Uscher's contract expires on July 31, 2016, she won't renew it, according to a press release that says the board of trustees "accepted Dr. Uscher's letter of resignation and authorized steps to conduct a formal nationwide search for a new president."

I asked to talk with Uscher and with board president Linda Brown. Neither was immediately available, but I'll follow up after I can speak with them.

Uscher, a classical violist, arrived at Cornish in 2010 after serving as provost at CalArts. She was idealistic and excited at the time about where Cornish could be "in 5 or 10 years."

In 2014, I reported on the major changes coming to Cornish, in the curriculum and in the staffing. Since then, several of Cornish's department chairs have resigned or retired.

I've copied the text of the press release on the jump to get across what Cornish has to say before I can talk directly with the players.

"I came to the College on a five-year contract, which strikes me as a good period of time," Dr. Uscher said. "Announcing this now will allow for an orderly transition." She added that she would reveal her future plans in due course.

"The board is grateful for Dr. Uscher's service to both Cornish and the Seattle community," said Cornish Board Chair Dr. Linda Brown. "We're looking forward to a robust search process that will identify new candidates to guide Cornish into its second century."

Dr. Uscher, a violist by training, is Cornish's first women president since its founder, Nellie Centennial Cornish, who started the school in 1914. Dr. Uscher came to Cornish in 2011 after serving as provost and co-acting president of the California Institute of the Arts. She holds a Ph.D. from New York University.

"It has been a true privilege for me to be at Cornish," Dr. Uscher said. "I am thrilled at the energy and talent embedded in the Cornish community, and how well our graduates are doing in the world. Cornish is on the cusp of big things as Seattle expands its presence on the world stage. The preservation of arts schools and the values they impart is so crucial."

On Dr. Uscher's watch, Cornish erected its first new building since 1921, the $50 million, 20-story Cornish Commons residence hall with classroom space on the main campus in the Denny Triangle section of downtown Seattle. The college also adopted a new visual arts curriculum, launched a film/media program, created a residency for the celebrated Kronos Quartet, began online courses, and stepped up fundraising.