Columbus College of Art & Design’s board of trustees confirmed Thomas White, an award-winning industrial designer and branding expert who has positioned organizations for growth in a variety of business sectors, including higher education, as CCAD’s new president during the board’s annual meeting on June 24.
White, 58, is a passionate advocate for the power of art and design to fuel economic growth and innovation. He succeeds Dennison W. Griffith in leading one of the nation’s oldest and largest private colleges of art and design. Griffith, who announced in August that he would retire when his contract expired June 30, was president for 16 years and most recently oversaw the opening of the CCAD MindMarket as a hub for businesses to engage with the college.
“Tom’s career accomplishments, combined with his passion for creativity and commerce, made him the ideal next president of CCAD,” said Robert P. Restrepo Jr., chair of the CCAD board of trustees and president, chairman and CEO of State Auto Insurance Companies. “He has the perfect blend of experience in academia and business. His expertise in branding, marketing and business development presented a skill set the search committee recognized as key for today’s competitive higher education marketplace.”
White, who has taught drawing and industrial design at California campuses during his business career, begins his tenure at CCAD immediately.
“This is a college with a rich legacy in an amazing city,” White said. “We have unlimited potential to deliver value to a growing population of creative thinkers that seek a quality education. I’m here to build on the value of CCAD regionally and nationally. Collaboratively, we will lead the college into a new era of growth.”
White sees the changing global business environment as a call to action for art and design educators.
“We’ve entered the ‘Era of the Creatives.’ The financial, legal and technical voices will always be critical to any endeavor, but the creative voice has emerged as the engine for innovation and growth,” White said.
Prior to accepting the CCAD presidency, White was vice president of corporate development at Co-Optimum Connect+ in Sherman Oaks, Calif. His business career includes leadership roles in technology design, marketing, advertising and branding with Citicorp and Lockheed-Martin as well as international design firms RKS Design and EDG Visual Communications in the Netherlands. Among White’s consultancy engagements was leading the strategic planning effort for the Savannah College of Art and Design.
White earned his undergraduate degree in industrial design at California State University, Northridge, and an MBA at Pepperdine University. In the classroom, White taught drawing in the interior design Extension program at the University of California, Los Angeles, and industrial design at his alma mater, CSUN. He also created the Commerce of Creativity Distinguished Speakers Series, known as C2, at CSUN.
Restrepo said the nine-month search for Griffith’s successor was extensive and attracted a diverse pool of international candidates. Board member Jane Ramsey, chief human resources officer for L Brands, Inc., chaired the committee, which worked with search firm Korn Ferry.
“The search committee was very thorough and included a well-rounded group of trustees, faculty and senior staff members,” Restrepo said. “We owe them our thanks for the hard work they invested to bring forward such a fine candidate.
“The board is very confident Tom’s personal style, strong leadership experience, and clear, concise communication skills will enable him to tell the CCAD story well,” Restrepo said.
News about Columbus College of Art & Design, including the accomplishments of CCAD alumni, faculty, staff, and students.