Cranbrook Academy of Art Welcomes 12th Director, Paul Sacaridiz

Cranbrook Educational Community is pleased to announce that Paul Sacaridiz has been appointed the new Maxine and Stuart Frankel Director of Cranbrook Academy of Art. Sacaridiz brings with him 25 years of experience that includes art making, teaching, administration, and leadership in higher education and the nonprofit sector. He will begin his tenure in May of 2022.

Paul Sacaridiz,

Photo: Danielle "deo" Owensby

Letter from the Director

Cranbrook is a singularly unique community and the legacy of the Academy in the fields of art, design and architecture has been nothing short of remarkable. At its core, the Academy remains a truly radical experiment – one that is based on mentorship, trust, collaboration and reciprocity. Looking back at the countless individuals who have taught and studied here, it is nothing short of inspiring, and an important reminder that extraordinary things can happen when people are given the time and space to make new discoveries in their work.

From the very start, Cranbrook established itself as a place unlike any other with the freedom to explore ideas outside of the traditional structures that guided most other schools. This model is still in place today, as Artists-in-Residence live and work alongside students within a community dedicated to rigorous inquiry and deep creative practice.

I am honored to have the opportunity to champion the many accomplishments of the Academy while also asking critical questions about how we can evolve and grow. At the core, I believe our greatest responsibility is to ensure that the work we do here provides a space where artists from a broad variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences feel seen, supported, and valued. To accomplish this, we must be honest about the challenges we face and fully commit to the work of dismantling structural forms of racism, sexism, homophobia, and oppression. This is truly the work of our time.

At the core, leadership is an inherently collaborative and creative act that requires deep and careful listening to ensure we remain relevant and responsive to the people we care about. It also hinges on a culture of transparency to ensure that everyone involved is valued and feels a sense of belonging. Looking ahead, we have an extraordinary opportunity to build on the Academy’s strengths while developing new programming, partnerships and funding models that foster a more equitable and diverse community.

I am thrilled to begin this work at Cranbrook as we shape the future together.

-Paul Sacaridiz

Cranbrook Office of the Director logo (2)

About Paul Sacaridiz

Paul Sacaridiz is the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Director of Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Over the course of his career, he has been widely recognized for his work as an artist, educator, administrator, and leader in higher education and the nonprofit sector. Prior to his appointment at Cranbrook, Sacaridiz was the Executive Director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. While at Haystack, he successfully led the organization through a period of historic fundraising that grew the endowment by nearly 300%. He navigated the organization through the pandemic, developed free online programs that cultivated new audiences, increased support for LGBTQ and BIPOC students, and completed major studio and infrastructure upgrades to the historic campus. Underscoring all of his work was a deep commitment to antiracism, equity, inclusion, and diversity which has influenced every aspect of the School from scholarships and programming to organizational partnerships and governance.

Earlier in his career, he served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Associate Director of the Wonsook Kim School of Art at Illinois State University. He was a Fellow with the National Council of Arts Administrators and has extensive experience serving on nonprofit boards including the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) and the Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+). As a speaker, Sacaridiz has lectured nationally on art, education and leadership through the College Art Association, Alliance of Artists Communities, American Craft Council, International Academy of Ceramics, and the Smithsonian Institution.

An accomplished sculptor and ceramicist, Sacaridiz has produced multiple large-scale projects for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft among others. He has been the recipient of numerous artist residencies including the Ragdale Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, the Archie Bray Foundation, the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, and the Arts/Industry Program at Kohler Company. He was an inductee to the International Academy of Ceramics and received the Romnes Faculty Fellowship and the Joyce J. and Gerald A. Bartell award in the Arts, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in recognition of outstanding research, outreach and public service.

Sacaridiz holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and BFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. He is also an alumnus of the School for American Crafts at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

About the Director Search

In the spring of 2021, Cranbrook Educational Community engaged the services of Russell Reynolds Associates to assist in the search for the new Maxine and Stuart Frankel Director of Cranbrook Academy of Art. 

A Search Committee was formed, comprised of members of various Cranbrook constituencies. The Search Committee included: 


  • Jim Berline, Academy of Art and Art Museum Governor and Cranbrook Educational Community Trustee 
  • Nancy Tellem, Academy of Art and Art Museum Governor 

Committee Members 

  • Antoine Dubeauclard, Academy of Art and Art Museum Governor 
  • Frank Edwards, Academy of Art and Art Museum Governor, Art Museum Committee Chair 
  • Jennifer Gilbert, Academy of Art and Art Museum Board Chair and Cranbrook Educational Community Trustee
  • Linda Gillum, First Vice Chair, Cranbrook Educational Community Board of Trustees 
  • Scott Klinker, Academy 3D Design Artist-in-Residence 
  • Abigail Murray, Academy of Art and Art Museum Governor and Academy Alumna 
  • Aimeclaire Roche, President of Cranbrook Educational Community 
  • Marc Schwartz, Academy of Art and Art Museum Governor and Cranbrook Educational Community Trustee
  • Musa Tariq, Academy of Art and Art Museum Governor 


The group solicited input from all key constituents to determine the greatest needs at the Academy and the desired skillset for the next Director. Using this information, the position description listed five specific core competencies the committee was seeking in a successful candidate: 

  • Strategic Vision 
  • Management of Teams and Resources 
  • Inspirational and Passionate Communication 
  • Deep and Demonstrated Commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) 
  • Experience Building the Institution’s Funding Base 


More than 250 people were contacted during the search process, including 150 prospective candidates and 100 sources. From this pool, the committee reviewed 22 promising candidates and selected 10 for the first round of virtual interviews. Five semi-finalists were invited to the second round of virtual interviews, and three finalists were invited to campus for interviews that included time with Governors, Trustees, Faculty, Staff, and Program Area Directors. All stages of the process included candidates who self-identified as women and people of color.  


Unanimous Recommendation 

The search committee’s unanimous recommendation of Sacaridiz was accepted by the President. Upon recommendation Cranbrook’s President, the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum Board of Governors and the Cranbrook Educational Community Board of Trustees each voted unanimously in favor of Sacaridiz’s appointment.