The San Francisco Art Institute announced on Wednesday that it will be reopening its degree programs this fall, four months after announcing that it was shutting down permanently due to serious financial woes.
The school's board recently reached an agreement to rehire all tenured faculty, and despite not being out of the woods financially — between allegedly missing payments on a $19 million loan and having laid of 69 adjunct faculty members who reportedly taught 75 percent of the school's classes — it says it has already heard from students who want to come back to finish their degrees.
"The core faculty are the heart and soul of the SFAI community, and the Board is delighted that these disputes have been successfully resolved,” said SFAI Board Chair Pam Rorke Levy in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming back some of our degree-candidate students, as early as this fall. Most of our classes are likely to be online in fall semester, with on campus instruction resuming in the spring, pending the status of COVID-19 restrictions."
As KQED reports, while there may be students eager to get back to their classwork, several referred to the last couple of months as a "rollercoaster" and like being in "an abusive relationship" with the school.
There are reportedly only 79 undergraduate and graduate students whom the school is trying to court into returning — and KQED spoke to a couple of immigrant students who had financial aid packages who remain concerned about what lies ahead.
The Art Institute's landmark campus on Chestnut Street may or may not even be a part of the school's future, according to a report last week by Mission Local. The building was used as collateral on that $19 million loan from Boston Private & Trust Company, which the school used in part to build out its Fort Mason campus, and it's unclear whether it will have to be sold. A foreclosure process already began, and according to KQED, the board says the issue is expected to be resolved before classes begin next month.
Also, the Art Institute is cheerfully looking ahead to being able to celebrate its 150th anniversary next spring, if the virus allows. And it's still looking for generous donors and help with some fundraising.
"We need to raise $4.5 million more to make it through this fiscal year and cover the commitment to our faculty, staff and students. But we have some exciting opportunities ahead to attract new supporters and build on our relationships with long-time donors," says Board Vice-Chair Jeremy Stone in a statement. "These include high-profile online auctions featuring works by well-known SFAI faculty and alumni, and a series of public events and programs leading up to SFAI’s 150th anniversary celebration in March 2021."