125 @ KCAI

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The 1980s: One Hundred Years Old and Counting

125 @ October 17, 2010
Chairman of the painting department Wilbur Niewald instructs students in the early 1980s.

Chairman of the painting department Wilbur Niewald instructs students in the early 1980s.

The 1980s saw the continuing expansion of the Renaissance Festival, with increasing success as an fundraiser for the college.  Begun in 1977, the festival grew annually and by 1983 attracted 150,000 people and generated $215,000 for KCAI, while raising the college’s profile in Kansas City.

KCAI of the ’80s saw four presidents come and go.  John W. Lottes, who had served since 1970, ended his term in 1982. He was followed by interim president Richard W. Dodderidge, who served from 1983 until George Parrino took the helm in January 1985. Mr. Parrino served until 1987. That year  Beatrice Rivas Sanchez became the first woman to lead the college as president.

In 1985, KCAI celebrated its 10oth Anniversary with a black-tie banquet and dance at the Alameda Plaza Hotel; more than 500 people, including Kansas City Mayor Richard L. Berkley, toasted the Institute’s “Century of Excellence.” A snapshot of 1985:  KCAI’s enrollment was 474 students from 41 states and eight foreign countries.  The annual tuition was $6,600, and the average faculty salary was $24,103.

Edited from “Chapter V: The Presidency of John W. Lottes: The Art Institute Comes of Age, 1970-1983” and “Chapter VI: The Art Institute at 100 – A Century of Excellence and Beyond” in “The History of the Kansas City Art Institute: A Century of Excellence and Beyond,” by Milton S. Katz


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