Fred Lazarus. Photo courtesy
Fred Lazarus. Photo courtesy

The natty, bow-tied Fred Lazarus IV announced today that he’ll retire from his job as president of MICA at the end of the next academic year, May 2014. (We totally called this one a month or so ago — just sayin’.)

Lazarus has been serving as president since 1978, which makes him the longest serving president of a four-year college in Maryland today.  He was also the first non-artist to serve as MICA’s president. When they offered me the job, I thought they were crazy,” he told the Harvard Business School Bulletin in 1999. “Not only was I not an artist, I had no real experience as an educator either. To this day, I have no idea how they got it past the faculty!”

Part of Lazarus’s success seems to have come from his business background. When he got hired by MICA (after serving as senior staff assistant to the chair of the National Endowment of the Arts, his first arts-related job), “We were operating under a deficit, our endowment was quite small, we were accepting almost anyone who applied, all the buildings needed renovation, and the faculty was on the verge of unionizing,” he told the HBSB. “It was not a happy place.” Under Lazarus, the university’s enrollment has more than doubled and a wide range of graduate programs (like those detailed here) have been added. MICA has also grown physically (and financially) during Lazarus’s tenure:  the campus has expanded tenfold, while the endowment is more than 25 times what it was in 1978.

Lazarus has also played an instrumental role in starting Baltimore institutions both beloved and emerging, including Artscape and the Baltimore Design School.

We’re still crossing our fingers in hopes that MICA appoints a woman to replace Lazarus, thus making Baltimore’s arts gynocracy even stronger….