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In service of our vision and core values, we have revisited and restated our mission: 

To educate future generations of global creative citizens to foster cultural and social change that promotes our core values through the pursuit and achievement of their professional goals. 

In support of this mission, the College is committed to: 

  • Instilling a standard of excellence in our students through a dynamic and focused curriculum 
  • Maintaining and sustaining a faculty of working professionals active in their fields 

  • Recruiting and supporting a fully inclusive community of students, faculty, staff and alumni

  • Encouraging discovery, experimentation, and the implementation of bold concepts that challenge convention

  • Engaging with, and contributing to, the vibrant cultural and professional landscape of New York City 

Core Values

Our in-depth interviews with dozens of SVA stakeholders included members of the board, faculty and chairs from undergraduate and graduate programs, current students and alumni and representatives of every tier of administration and staff. We asked each person to identify the core values of the College. The following words and phrases emerged consistently: 

Participation in the Global Creative Community

Creative citizenship extends far beyond the borders of any one state or country. Citizenship, as we see it, demands participating with integrity in the exchange of ideas in one's community and the world at large. We must recognize our common humanity; listen to our fellow global citizens; respect a multiplicity of perspectives and experiences; engage in a meaningful exchange of ideas; and most critically at this moment in our history, we must have the clarity of purpose to speak out against injustice.

At SVA, the creative citizen then encompasses all of these ideals through their artistic practice.

Diversity and Inclusion 

We are a diverse community that voices a deep commitment to equality and accessibility. We strive to create an atmosphere of openness and inclusion. 

Freedom of Expression 

The College has always protected the rights of every member of its community to share their views in a receptive space and to enjoy the autonomy necessary for risk-taking and innovation. SVA should remain an environment where both new ideas and contested ideas are welcomed and explored. 

Professionalism and Integrity

The word “professional” came up in a number of contexts during our conversations about SVA’s strengths and values. In practical terms, our faculty of working professionals are actively engaged with the fields that they teach. They hold students to a professional standard in terms of their craft, focus, and general comportment; the curriculum of each major is built on a foundation of specialization and expertise. But our community spoke about professionalism with a sincerity and significance that implied far more than mere competence. Professionalism at SVA encompasses accountability, intellectual rigor, leadership, and, above all, integrity. 


Recognized Strengths

Since its founding, SVA’s greatest strength has been the ability to foster an environment and conditions where faculty and students feel empowered to do their best. We maintain a flat organizational structure and allow faculty considerable autonomy in the development of their courses. If someone has a good idea, the College has the nimbleness and flexibility to let them accomplish it.

Faculty in turn afford this same autonomy to their students. Students are encouraged to dig deeply and creatively into ideas, to risk failure and reach beyond the boundaries of their abilities and imaginations. 

The students who thrive most readily in this context tend to be those who arrive with some idea of where they want their educational experience to take them. They are empowered to achieve career success through the opportunities afforded by the professional community of which the faculty are a part and through whom the students attain extraordinary access. With a robust international student population and New York City as our campus, we are able to foster the self-possession and drive of students and faculty to have impact both on the global stage and at the individual level. 

Most broadly, SVA is a cultural and professional gateway for a pluralistic group of students and teachers across disciplines. We take great pride in producing graduates who are prepared to make an impact. They are innovative, self-reliant, professional and represent many cultures. In the best of cases, they are agents of change. 

Future Challenges

The challenges we face over the next five years are varied. Some are shared by colleges throughout the country; others are unique to SVA. Fundamentally, they all concern the essential quality of the student experience and the long-term value of an SVA education. 

The climate for higher education institutions is troubling. We contend with the escalating cost of education and a perception of diminished return on investment. We must manage the complexities of effectively running an institution sustainably and ethically, particularly in light of growing regulatory obligations and obstacles. We have to adjust to the limitations of demographic shifts and market saturation. 

As the demographics change, so do the appropriate modes of delivery and pedagogical approaches. Furthermore, both the faculty themselves and subject-matter they address must become more inclusive and representative of an increasingly diverse SVA community. 

Some concerns are specific to the particular context and characteristics of SVA. After many decades of consistent leadership, we are beginning to experience the retirement of long-serving academic leadership and faculty. And it is reasonable to anticipate that this trend will continue over the course of this five-year plan. This raises questions of succession and plans for developing the next generation of faculty and administrators and to fill the vacuum left by these key members of the SVA community. 

We are an urban school. Although this provides students with countless benefits, the College must contend with the constraints that the New York City real estate market places upon our evolving physical space needs. This leads to campus decentralization which reinforces the sense that each department is a silo, and in turn can lead to duplicative use of resources. 

Finally, the forthcoming conversion to 501(c)(3) status brings its own uncertainties and the path forward remains unclear. 


Despite these concerns, SVA continues to be an ascendant institution by many measures, including the mounting accomplishments of members of the extended SVA community; favorable enrollment numbers; and exciting growth in new areas of practice and pedagogy. We continue to move forward in pursuit of the lofty vision that Board Chairman Milton Glaser established in the previous strategic plan: “To be the best art and design school in the world.” 

While “best” is an expansive goal, this plan endeavors to establish more clearly our own particular and distinctive definition of “best.” Situated at the crossroads of international culture in New York City, we enjoy profoundly layered diversity. This multiplicity of local and global perspectives produces new means and modes of creative citizenship. The search for commonality is in itself transformative, and it moves us ever closer to our goal of “best.” Our vision, then, is to cultivate and train generations of creative citizens to work toward a greater understanding of our shared humanity and to invent new ways to embrace it. 

School of Visual Arts | 209 East 23 Street, NY, NY 10010-3994 | Tel: 212.592.2000 | Fax: 212.725.3587