Mark Robbins, AAR President and CEO, announced today that he will step down at the conclusion of the academic year, in July 2023, following nearly ten years in the role. During his tenure, the American Academy in Rome has become a more inclusive and global institution and is in a strong position to continue its leading role supporting artists and scholars and interdisciplinary work in the city of Rome, the Mediterranean basin, and beyond. A robust program of publications, exhibitions, conferences, and lectures in Italy and the United States have helped highlight the impact of this work across the humanities and arts.
“Through the Rome Prize and associated programs the Academy assembles a unique residential community in Rome,” said Robbins. “A modern American institution in an ancient city, it provides a sanctuary to explore the complex strands of history and the change occurring outside its walls. The experience of living and working in this community changes the work of each resident. It promotes an understanding of other creative and scholarly practices and cultures, hopefully also producing advocates for this humanistic project. It has been my honor,” he continued, “to serve the Academy alongside a gifted team supporting conversation, debate, and experimentation.”
“Mark Robbins has brought the Academy to the next level,” said Board of Trustees Chair, Cary Davis. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I’d like to thank Mark for his dedication to the Academy and for his leadership in broadening its scope and diversifying its community. These efforts will enable the Academy to continue to move from strength to strength in the years to come.”
“I’m deeply grateful to Mark for his service, vision, and leadership,” said Board of Trustees Chair-Elect, Calvin Tsao. “Mark helped the American Academy expand our idea of what Rome means today, and the results are evident in the wide array of art and scholarship that the Academy supports. Mark also deepened the ties between AAR and the Italian and Roman community and successfully navigated AAR through the challenging period of the pandemic.”
With Robbins’s leadership the Academy has built on its legacy as an arts and research institution, professionalizing the organization, rebuilding the staff and board, as well as finding new sources of support in the US and Italy to develop new fellowships and residencies. Initiatives such as the Tsao Family Fellowship, the Getty Foundation Global Affiliates, the IIE Artist Protection Fund, and the Italian Fellowship program have expanded the intellectual breadth of the Academy.
A full schedule of public programs has flourished, many exploring the Academy itself as a critical lens for American culture, including the exhibitions The Academic Body (2019), A View of One’s Own (2017), and Nero su Bianco (2015). The creation of the biannual AAR Magazine and the program series Conversations/Conversazioni introduced AAR to new audiences across the US and Italy. Under Robbins’s direction AAR has reached a new fundraising record, with stronger financial support for Fellows and fellowships, a wider array of Residents, and new institutional partnerships. The move of the New York offices this fall to the Dia Foundation building in West Chelsea provides an efficient collaborative environment for this next exciting phase at the Academy.
Before leading AAR, Robbins served as executive director of the International Center of Photography in New York, dean of Syracuse University’s School of Architecture, director of design for the National Endowment for the Arts, and curator of architecture at the Wexner Center for the Arts. Robbins has published widely, edited multiple books on design and art, and received numerous awards and fellowships, including those from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the American Academy in Rome.
The Board of Trustees has formed a Search Committee and engaged the global leadership advisory firm Spencer Stuart to oversee the process to find Robbins’s successor. See the position description here.
Media inquiries should be sent to Andrew Mitchell, Director of Communications, 212-751-7200, ext. 342, a.mitchell [at] aarome.org.