Jeff Fisher changes lives at CCAD

jeff fisher portrait

When Jeff Fisher arrived at Columbus College of Art & Design nearly 36 years ago, he could hardly have imagined he found the place where he would meet his wife, Abby, and that would educate their children, Graham and Leah.

But the job didn’t just impact Fisher’s life. He directly changed the lives of students at CCAD, helping them navigate the challenging finances of college tuition, stay in school, and secure better futures for themselves.

On the eve of Fisher’s retirement this spring as CCAD’s Senior Vice President for Finance & Planning, some of those former students, now with careers in art and design, have shared how Fisher helped them overcome their challenges.

Chile-born Paula Marcela Andrade came to the US as a high school exchange student, but stayed after she received a scholarship to attend college at CCAD. Once here, Fisher helped her earn a grant for her good academic standing. Andrade now teaches sensory art and Spanish to preschoolers at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia.

Recently, with Fisher due to retire at the end of the 2018–19 academic year and Andrade set to sell her work in the 2019 CCAD Spring Art Fair for the first time, Andrade made a big offer: half the proceeds from sales of her work at the Art Fair will go to a new endowed student scholarship fund in Fisher’s name that will serve students with emergency financial needs.

“It was here in the States that I realized I could draw, and it was CCAD the institution that nurtured and supported my artistic talent,” Andrade said. “These scholarships were so important in my life at the time, because they helped me recognize I was talented and showed me a path that, otherwise, I never would have chosen for myself. This is why these scholarship funds are so important to young people. It was a blessing for me to be able to get one, and I want to help others have the same opportunity.”

Multidisciplinary artist and designer Jayashri Triolo studied Fine Arts at CCAD starting in 1986; Fisher’s recommendation—that she enlist in the National Guard, where she worked as a graphic arts specialist to help pay for her school expenses—she said, “made it possible for me to be there” at the college.

“CCAD changed my life. It allowed me to be me, an artist … what I was born to be. I have lifelong friendships made at CCAD, and I use so much of what I learned there every day of my life,” said Triolo, who now owns two businesses and lives in Cazadero, California.

Erwin Lian (Media Studies, Time-Based, 2004) came to CCAD from Singapore impressed by the college’s foundation and its strong student work. But, once here, he sometimes struggled to pay his student fees. Fisher provided him extensions through the Bursar’s Office, he recalled, and also gave him a dose of confidence.