Columbus College of Art and Design

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Columbus College of Art and Design
stylized letters c c a d nested inside one another in pantone red 186
Established 1879
Type Private
President Dennison W. Griffith
Academic staff 180 full-time
Undergraduates 1,350
Postgraduates 25
Location Columbus, OH, USA
Campus Urban

Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) is a private college of art and design located in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Originally founded in 1879 as the Columbus Art School, CCAD is one of the oldest and largest private art and design colleges in the United States. Located in downtown Columbus, CCAD's campus consists of 14 buildings (including 2 residence halls) on 9 acres (36,000 m2) and is adjacent to the Columbus Museum of Art and Columbus State Community College. Approximately 1,350 full-time students are enrolled.


Graduate (MFA)[edit]

CCAD awards a project-based, multidisciplinary Master of Fine Arts degree in Visual Arts: New Projects.

Undergraduate (BFA)[edit]

CCAD offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in:

Undergraduate minors are available in:

  • Art History
  • Art Therapy
  • Copywriting
  • Creative Writing
  • Design History
  • Fashion Design
  • Fine Arts
  • Literature

Community Classes[edit]

The college offers a wide variety of community classes for all ages, including children and youth grades 1-12 and art educators.


CCAD is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), the Higher Learning Commission, Member of the North Central Association, and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The Interior Design program is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA—formerly FIDER).


CCAD's 100 foot tall red steel campus sculpture of the letters A R and T
CCAD's 100-foot-tall campus ART sign

CCAD's compact urban campus is in the heart of downtown Columbus—yet it's also centered on a quad surrounded by gardens. Of its 14 buildings, four were built or extensively renovated since 2005. Everything students need is within a 10-minute walk.

  • Professional studios and equipment for each major area of study
  • One main gallery, many smaller galleries, and an active national/international exhibitions program
  • Student center with lounges, fitness, and game room
  • Art supply store with discounts for CCAD students
  • 400-seat auditorium
  • Food options: new dining hall, café, and convenience store
  • Two residence halls: one apartment style and one with suites
  • 24-hour security

The Columbus Museum of Art is right next door, and within short walking distance are the Columbus Metropolitan Library, the Ohio Statehouse, parks, theatres, shopping, and a multitude of historic buildings and landmarks.


Early History 1879-1930[edit]

CCAD was founded in 1879 as the Columbus Art School. The idea for the school started in 1878, when a group of prominent women formed the Columbus Art Association. Their main concern became creating an art school in Columbus. The first day of classes was January 6, 1879, on the top floor of the Sessions Building at Long and High. Use of that floor had been donated by Francis Sessions, an art-minded banker and entrepreneur and one of the first trustees of the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts. There were only 3 students and 1 teacher in the poorly lit and badly ventilated space. But by the end of the school year, there were 118 students. The original classes included drawing, watercolor, art needlework, oil painting, clay modeling, china painting, and mechanical drawing. Soon after opening, the school added classes like sculpture and figure drawing with clothed models, since nude models were considered too risqué in Columbus at the time. In 1885, the school had to move to the Tuller Building at Gay and Fourth St due to the poor ventilation and vapors rising from the Troy Stream Laundry on the floors below the school in the Sessions Block.

In 1892, Francis Sessions died. In his will, he left his house to serve as a distinct space for the gallery and also left a large sum of money to build a better space for the gallery and for the continuation of the Columbus Art School. The school moved two more times before 1914, when it moved into the Monypeny Mansion next to the Sessions House. In 1923, the school, which had been run by the Columbus Art Association but funded by the gallery, merged into one board. Through this merger, the Columbus Art Association became extinct, and the trustees of the gallery created a school committee board. Among the faculty at this time was painter Alice Schille. Columbus-born George Bellows had a brief stint as a student before going on to study in New York.

In 1929, during the great depression, Ralph Beaton, a trustee of the gallery, donated $30,000 to build the first new building specifically built for the Columbus Art School. The Sessions House and Monypeny Mansion were torn down to make way for the brand-new Beaton Hall and a new Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts building. Beaton Hall was completed and held its first classes in 1930. At this time, first-year required courses were drawing, watercolor painting, color theory and practice, modeling, anatomy, composition, perspective drawing, design, lettering, and illustrative advertising. By 1944-45, the day school was discontinued because of World War II, but the evening school had been expanded.

Transformations under President Joseph Canzani 1948-1995[edit]

Joseph Canzani started as a teacher at the school in 1948. The school had all but closed during WWII and was barely functioning at the end of the decade. By 1950, there were only 13 day school students, and Canzani was the only faculty member. Canzani was asked by the museum director to become Dean. As Dean, Canzani put together introductory courses in drawing, color theory and design principles. Canzani also taught some of the foundation classes. He was ruthless regarding the quality of art he expected from his students.

In 1959, Canzani changed the name from the Columbus Art School to the Columbus College of Art & Design. By the 1960s, the school had grown to 850 full-time students; it quickly outgrew Beaton Hall. The college started buying up the houses surrounding the school, starting with the six houses on Hutton Place, next to Beaton Hall. In 1962, students started picketing in front of the Columbus Museum of Art (who we still shared a board with) for the college to become a degree granting institution. At the time, the school only gave out a professional certificate of completion. The students finally ended their 24-hour picketing when the board announced that they would start looking into accreditation. In 1969, CCAD finally received authorization by the Ohio Board of Regents to grant the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In 1975, Kinney Hall (then called V-Hall) was completed. It was the second building to be built specifically for the school, at a cost of $2.5 million. This was followed by the renovation and conversion of a former Cadillac plant into Battelle Hall in 1978.

In 1976, CCAD was finally granted accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art. In June 1979, Canzani became the first President of CCAD. In 1981, after 58 years of being run by the Columbus Museum of Art, CCAD separated from the CMA. Canzani had returned from a meeting in Kansas City to learn that the museum’s board was on the verge of merging CCAD with Franklin University. The Trustees thought that the merger would put CCAD on better financial ground, but Canzani thought it would ruin the school overnight. Canzani rallied faculty members and students and they protested the board’s actions. Canzani’s defiance wore down the board, and it abandoned its plans to merge. Canzani requested for CCAD to become independent of the CMA and by 1982, the separation was complete.

The Schottenstein Residence Hall was completed in 1985 and was the first official campus dorm. CCAD also bought many of the houses on Cleveland Avenue between Long and Gay, converting them into classrooms and offices. In 1995, Canzani retired at the age of 80 after 47 years of service. The Joseph V. Canzani Center, the last new building to be built during his presidency, had been completed in 1991. The Canzani Center holds the CCAD Packard Library, an auditorium, and a 15,000-square-foot gallery.

A New Era under President Dennison Griffith 1998-2014[edit]

In 1998, after an 11-month international search for someone who could increase our low profile, we found our next President, Dennison (Denny) W. Griffith, next door at the Columbus Museum of Art. He had been working there since 1988; his final position was Deputy Director. Griffith started his first year by hosting the freshmen orientation with a picnic at his house. His first plans were to increase the reputation of the college, build an endowment, and update technology.

In 1999, CCAD, under Griffith’s leadership, created goals of redeveloping the campus and adding increased and improved student housing as well as adding more modern facilities, updating technology, increasing the operating budget, maintaining the scholarship fund, and increasing the school’s endowment. By 2001, the school had a 17-building, 9-acre campus. On June 23, 2001, the 100-foot-high, 101-foot-wide, 24,000-pound ART sign was erected, spanning Gay Street on campus. The sculpture was designed by Doris Schlayn of Artglo Company and donated to the school.

The Loann Crane Center For Design was built in 2005, replacing the old student center, and its adjacent quad replaced a parking lot. The Crane Center is home to the One Stop, where the registrar, bursar, and financial aid departments merged into one stop for student’s needs. The Crane Center also includes a lobby, game room, TV lounge, and the Student Affairs Hallway, which provides student services. There is also a small café.

In 2006, CCAD bought the Byers Building, a 1920s auto dealership at the corner of Broad Street and Cleveland Avenue, for $4.5 million. The building was converted into offices, classrooms, and studios and renamed the Design Studios on Broad. DSB houses the MindMarket, which functions to further CCAD’s role in the creative economy with a DesignLab, a coworking space for small creative businesses, and the ThoughtLab. In the DesignLab, CCAD students work with faculty on charettes, 16 week in class creative problem solving and partnerships with outside organizations for specific projects. The coworking space allows small creative businesses to learn from and interact with CCAD faculty, staff, and students by sharing space with them, and the ThoughtLab provides conversation opportunities for local businesses, creative industry leaders and members of the community to explore topics important to infusing businesses with creativity and creative leadership. DSB also houses the MFA Program, a project-based, multidisciplinary curriculum designed to develop not just the candidates’ artistic skills, but also their skills in planning, communications and leadership. The first MFA class graduated in 2012.

In 2009, the Design Square Apartments were completed, adding increased and improved student housing, as well as more modern facilities. This new building replaced the older houses on Cleveland Avenue that had been previously repurposed for use by CCAD. Design Square Apartments not only offers housing to 200 graduate students, upperclassmen, and some freshmen, but also houses a spacious, state-of-the-art cafeteria, a gym, and a small convenience store called the POD.

In 2013, Griffith announced that he would be retiring on June 30, 2014, after 16 years of service. Under his leadership, we doubled the size of the campus with the addition of 275,000 square feet of new or renovated facilities. The school has also debuted a new curricular model that splits the majors into two schools, the School of Design Arts and the School for Studio Arts. The two-school model mixes business education with innovate design education; its fully finalized form will launch in Fall 2014.

Notable alumni[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°57′54″N 82°59′24″W / 39.964895°N 82.989983°W / 39.964895; -82.989983