Kendall president resigns

Unanswered questions surround Rosen’s unexpected departure

President Rosen of Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) in Grand Rapids unexpectedly resigned two months before his intended resignation date.

After rumors and speculation of his resignation a few days prior, Rosen made the announcement in an email to faculty and students on April 10.

“I was not terminated,” Rosen said.  “I voluntarily tendered my resignation in March, and am fully satisfied with the terms and conditions of my departure, which is effective today.”

Rosen has not elaborated on any reason behind his resignation.

Ferris State University spokesperson Marc Sheehan said such personnel issues as employee resignations are considered confidential under university policy.  However, he added that the university had accepted Rosen’s resignation with regret.

According to documents released to The Grand Rapids Press and in a public records request, Rosen’s resignation letter shows that he told Ferris President David Eisler on March 26 he wanted to step down as president on June 2 and return to the ranks of the faculty at Kendall.

Instead, Rosen left Kendall with no right of return and $100,000 in separation pay.

According to Kendall Faculty Association (KFA) President Adam DeKraker, Dr. Rosen was offered tenure and rank among the KCAD faculty by the administration of Ferris State University as part of his initial hiring package, but those rights were revoked as a part of his resignation prior to any formal discussions with the Kendall Faculty Association.

“The KFA was not made aware, or informed of such discussions made by the FSU or KCAD administrations and did not reject a request for Dr. Rosen to join the faculty,” DeKraker said. “The Kendall Faculty Association was not provided an opportunity to consider such a request.”

Students rallied in support of Rosen and took to social media to praise him and vent frustrations towards unanswered questions in his departure.

“Students and faculty continue to make speculations about the situation,” DeKraker said. “The individuals who have the information are unwilling or unable to discuss it with those who are affected by the decisions.”

Many students speculate Rosen’s resignation may have been due to concerns that the school didn’t have enough autonomy from Ferris State University. However, no official comments have been made.

Dr. Rosen’s email to students addressed the assumption and said a number of demonstrations, both physical and online, have been disruptive to KCAD.

“These are not in my best interest, nor in the best interest of the college, our students, alumni or supporters,” Rosen said. “They are also based on misinformation.”

Rosen’s resignation continues to impact students and faculty of KCAD.

“Rosen is a forward-thinking individual who is not defined by those around him and is someone who is willing to challenge conventional notions of what a college could be,” said DeKraker, who has known Dr. Rosen since the beginning of his presidency in 2012.

Rosen earned his bachelor’s degree from Haverford College and both his master’s and doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.  Nine years before his KCAD presidency, he served as Senior Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Woodbury University, a private college in Burbank, Los Angeles and San Diego that specializes in art, architecture, media, design and business.

According to MLive, Eisler said former Kendall President Oliver Evans will serve as interim president while a search committee will be formed to find the college’s next president.