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Smith-Buonanno Family Director of Contemporary Practices

School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Illinois, United States
Salary Not specified
Posted date
Oct 25, 2021

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Position Type
Faculty Positions, Arts, Art, Design & Graphic Arts
Employment Level
Tenured/Tenured Track
Employment Type
Full Time
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The School of the Art Institute of Chicago invites applications for the Smith-Buonanno Family Director of Contemporary Practices, to begin in August of 2022. This endowed professorship is a tenured, leadership position, overseeing the first-year program at SAIC. Rank and salary are competitive with peer institutions and are commensurate with level of practice, scholarship, current academic research, extent of teaching experience, and current professional standing. The Smith-Buonanno Family Director of Contemporary Practices will teach one course in the department per academic year and will receive annual research funding while serving in this role.


SAIC's first-year program, the Department of Contemporary Practices (CP), provides an intensive introduction to interdisciplinary contemporary art and design practices, including required curriculum for first-year and transfer students. Pedagogically, the Department of Contemporary Practices is committed to integrating critical thinking skills, cultural competency, anti-racism, and social engagement towards a decolonized, studio-based curriculum across myriad media and processes. Courses move between studio practices, investigating and applying formal languages, skill building, collaborative learning, various forms of critique, and activities to foster community.

Evolving out of a traditional foundations program, the Department of Contemporary Practices is continually evaluating and assessing what a firstyear required curriculum in the arts might be, rigorously exploring the changing nature of what it means to be “contemporary” for new generations of artists and designers.

In the summer of 2020, the Department of Contemporary Practices made the decision to prioritize anti-racism in its conversations about diversity. The faculty, staff, and students in the Contemporary Practices Department are deeply committed to consistent and ongoing anti-racist work and creating a culture of learning and engagement with one another.

The Department of Contemporary Practices provides courses for over 850 students. Seventy-five faculty teach in the department, eleven of whom are tenured or tenure-track faculty. Further information about the department can be found at the following URL:


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. Additionally, 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.


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.


Questions regarding the School and its open positions, application procedures, or the search process may be emailed to Please consult for information on the School and its programs, or for open positions and application procedures.


A leader in educating artists, designers, and scholars since 1866, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers undergraduate, graduate, and post-baccalaureate programs to students from across the globe. Located in the heart of Chicago, the School is one of the largest and oldest private schools of art and design in the country with programs reflecting current practices in art. SAIC's educational philosophy is built upon a transdisciplinary approach to art and design that provides unparalleled opportunities for students to develop their creative and critical abilities with renowned faculty who are leading practitioners in their fields. SAIC's resources include the Art Institute of Chicago and its Modern Wing, and numerous special collections and programming venues that provide students with exceptional exhibitions, screenings, lectures, and performances. The campus is located on Chicago’s magnificent lakefront amid the city’s cultural and architectural treasures.

The School currently enrolls 3,132 students in 15 studio departments and 8 academic departments. There are 156 full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty and 607 part-time faculty. Degree tracks include the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Studio; BFA with Emphasis in Art Education or Writing; BA degrees in Art History and Visual and Critical Studies; Master of Architecture; Master of Design (MDes) in Designed Objects; MDes in Fashion, Body, and Garment; MFA in Studio or Writing; MA degrees in Arts Administration; Art Education; Art History, Theory, and Criticism; Art Therapy; New Arts Journalism; Teaching; Visual and Critical Studies; and a Master of Science in Historic Preservation.


The Art Institute of Chicago, including both the school and the museum, is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for its students, visitors, faculty, and staff, and to ensuring that educational and employment decisions are based on an individual’s abilities and qualifications. The Art Institute of Chicago does not tolerate unlawful discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, military or former military status, or any other status protected by federal, state or local law, in its programs and activities, public accommodations or employment practices. The following individuals have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies:

Title IX Coordinator

Lumaturije “Luma” Asanoski, 116 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 1200, Chicago, IL 60603, 312.499.4165,

Section 504 Coordinator

Felice Dublon, PhD, Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs, The Office of Student Affairs, 36 S. Wabash Ave., suite 1204, Chicago, IL 60603, 312.629.6800,

For further information on notice of nondiscrimination, see the Office for Civil Rights Discrimination Complaint Form for the address and phone number of the office that serves your area, or call 800.421.3481.


SAIC provides reasonable accommodations during the interview process for candidates with disabilities in adherence with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Should you require an accommodation to participate in an interview or other aspect of the search process, please contact Molly Roth Scranton, Associate Director of Faculty Affairs at

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