Karen Hofmann has been named new provost of Art Center College in Pasadena. She’s the first woman to hold the top academic spot in the college’s 88-year history. Hofmann is an ArtCenter alumna who recently served as interim provost and has chaired the Product Design department since 2009.
ArtCenter College of Design President Lorne M. Buchman made the official announcement on Wednesday, saying, “Karen’s performance as interim provost has been remarkably strong. She has shown incredible skillfulness working through a number of exceedingly difficult problems, and I look forward to working with her on a more permanent basis.”
Hoffman said she is ” humbled by this opportunity to serve ArtCenter… my time as interim provost has been one of deep reflection and given me the confidence to address educational and organizational issues I’m most passionate about. I understand the challenges of navigating the institution in its current structure and the opportunities to shape what the office could be in the future.”
As chair of the Product Design department, Hofmann prioritized team-building and leadership by encouraging students to be involved in clubs, student government, and social impact initiatives. She focused on the “experience portfolio” and prioritized co-curricular experiences such as serving as a teaching assistant, pursuing internships, traveling through study away and mentorships with the goal of enabling students to develop a distinct point of view.
Before joining ArtCenter, Hoffman served as a senior project consultant with o2studio, a design strategy and research consultancy whose clients included Milliken Automotive, Nokia, and Plantronics. She began her career at Johnson Controls, ultimately serving as a strategic research manager in the consumer research department of the company’s Automotive Systems Group.
Hofmann graduated from ArtCenter in 1997 with a bachelor of science degree in product design. She earned a bachelor degree in psychology from California State University, Northridge in 1990.
She also currently serves as a board member for The Martin Architecture and Design Workshop (MADWORKSHOP) supporting technological craftsmanship in the arts and design.
Hofmann’s appointment follows an international search to identify and attract a diverse and highly qualified group of potential candidates from around the world. “I can speak for the entire committee when I say it (the search) has been both educational and exciting,” said Anne Burdick, Chair of Graduate Media Design Practices. “Along the way we have had the privilege of hearing from world-class educational leaders and holding in-depth conversations with President Buchman about what makes a good provost, and especially, what makes a good provost at ArtCenter.”