MICA names new president, confronts enrollment and financial shortfalls

MICA has named Cecilia M. McCormick as the art school’s new president, following her six-month engagement as interim president. She replaces Sammy Hoi, who served nearly 10 years before announcing his retirement in January.

Hoi arrived in 2014 and managed the college through layoffs and the coronavirus pandemic, which led to a loss of international students, especially from China. That reduced the undergraduate population and exacerbated financial strains. He continues to reside in Bolton Hill.

According to the Baltimore Sun, between 2010 and 2019, fall enrollment never fell below 1,650 full-time undergraduates. In the fall of 2019, MICA’s enrollment for full-time undergraduate students was 1,689. But by fall 2020, that dropped to 1,254, a 25 percent plunge.

“They’ve got to get their act together,” former MICA President Fred Lazarus said of the school earlier this year. “You’ve got to grow yourself out of this problem.” With tuition at $53,815 plus room and board, it is one of the more expensive colleges in the region. The school’s budget relies heavily on enrollment. According to federal data for fiscal year 2022, 90% of MICA’s revenue was from tuition and fees.

McCormick previously worked as vice provost for academic strategy and in several other positions at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, where she was said to be integral to the school’s merger with Philadelphia University that brought together health sciences and the world of art. She previously was at Widener University in Chester, PA, serving as Executive Director in the Office of the President.

McCormick received her bachelor’s degree in management and marketing from Saint Joseph’s University, a Jesuit school in Philadelphia. She earned a law degree from Delaware Law School at Widener and completed  post-doctoral education at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education

“President McCormick joined our tight-knit community, and immediately employed her expertise and wide-ranging connections to give herself wholeheartedly to our institution,” said Eric Jordahl, Chair of MICA’s Board of Trustees. “MICA is in the midst of a transformational time that sees it poised to thrive as it enters its third century. Cecilia brings the kind of financial, legal and operational expertise that is essential for this moment in MICA’s history.”

The administration said McCormick has helped MICA re-emerge after the pandemic disruptions, closed financial gaps and increased enrollment. Fall 2024 will mark the start of the school’s new media arts program, and MICA is poised to debut its first online bachelor’s program for design in the next year.