The Maryland Institute College of Art announced they’re permanently hiring Cecilia McCormick to lead the historic Baltimore school as its next president.

McCormick had been serving since January in an interim role and was chosen to head the college after an extensive review process involving trustees, staff, faculty and students, according to a statement.

“It has been a particular thrill to lead MICA these past several months. It is a truly vibrant place with remarkable faculty, staff, and students,” McCormick said. “I stand honored and ready to steward such a historic institution into its third century.”

Her hiring comes on the heels of a trying period of recovery as the school faced drops in enrollment and staffing cuts like many other institutes of higher learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

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McCormick has extensive experience in leading roles at institutions of higher education. She served as Elizabethtown College’s first female president where she’s credited with boosting the Pennsylvania school’s enrollment and securing financial stability.

At Thomas Jefferson University, she took on top strategic, administrative and financial roles, and served as dean and director of the Legal Education Institute for the from Widener University Delaware School of Law in Wilmington.

“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.”

Cecilia McCormack has been named president of the Maryland Institute College of Art. McCormick replaces Samuel Hoi, who retired at the end of 2023. (Courtesy Maryland Institute C)

McCormick’s predecessor Samuel Hoi retired and had been in the role since 2014. He saw the school through the strains and financial hardships wrought by the pandemic.

Like colleges and universities across the country, MICA saw a drop in enrollment numbers and revenue shortages as schools sent students home and switched to remote learning. In-person learning resumed in fall 2021 with fewer students, higher operating costs and more pressure from its faculty and staff unions to offer better wages and benefits.

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The result for MICA meant layoffs of full-time faculty and staff ahead of the 2023 school year and a thinning of class options.

Faculty and staff members had been at odds with school leaders since at least 2020, when faculty sent a letter of no confidence to Hoi as well as MICA’s provost and Board of Trustees, with faculty alleging breakdowns in communication and shoddy planning ahead of the fall 2020 semester.

But McCormick “has made great strides in helping MICA re-emerge as a premiere college of art and design after the disruptions of the pandemic,” according to the statement. The school has seen a jump in “key enrollment metrics” and said McCormick has helped bridge financial gaps.