President’s Letter

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Dear Cranbrook Friends,

Thank you for being a part of our community as we head into one of my favorite seasons here at Cranbrook. There is an exciting feeling in the air with our students back in the classrooms and studios, new exhibitions available, and historic house doors reopened. While our grounds begin to take on the charm of autumn hues, it is my privilege to write to you for the first time as President of Cranbrook Educational Community.

On a beautiful day last month, we had the opportunity to celebrate Cranbrook’s future and honor recently retired President Emeritus Dominic A. DiMarco at a special outdoor reception at Cranbrook Gardens. Thank you again to those of you who were able to be there with us in-person.

For those of you who were not able to attend, I welcome you to watch the remarks from Board of Trustees First Vice Chair Dr. Linda H. Gillum, President Emeritus Dominic DiMarco, Board of Trustees Chair Mark L. Reuss, and me by clicking here. The letter below the video is adapted from my remarks at the event and in it I welcome your partnership in charting Cranbrook’s future!

In the late 1920s George Booth, in celebrating his and Ellen Scripps Booth’s burgeoning investment in Cranbrook, proposed, “We have blazed a new trail; it will be largely the work of others to extend, to widen, and to improve…”1 Since my arrival to this Community in 2018, these words have resonated with me, and never more deeply than today.

It is an honor for me to assume the responsibilities of Cranbrook Educational Community President and take up the path that President Emeritus Dom DiMarco, my mentor, has widened and extended so deftly during his tenure. I am simultaneously humble and proud to succeed Dom, continuing to align all our programs as One Cranbrook, in a way that leverages individual and collaborative strength.

Mr. Booth’s reflection highlights two fundamental tenets of this remarkable community: First, that Cranbrook was founded with an intentionally future-forward commitment to thoughtful innovation; blazing trails is in our marrow, with makers and creators here since 1904. Second, the Booths never doubted Cranbrook’s thriving longevity. In Cranbrook’s current institutions - the Museum, Academy, Institute, and Schools - the Booths launched an enterprise that would continue to evolve, mature, and include Horizons-Upward Bound, the House and Gardens Auxiliary, and the Center for Collections and Research. As a result of those innovations, Cranbrook would have even greater impact, for generations to come. This is an amazing legacy to extend, and to widen, striving always to improve.

Which begs the question: Looking into the future, where does this current trailhead lead?

For all our program areas, the path ahead leads to a continued examination of Cranbrook’s programs, exhibitions, and educational practices to ensure that they are accessible, that they welcome and engage, that they are relevant and meaningful, and that they guarantee a sense of wellbeing and belonging to the widest diversity of constituents.

The trailhead leads to collaborative partnerships – certainly within, but well beyond our campus – that honor the wisdom and enfranchise the perspective of others, from which equitable culture and diverse and inclusive community grows.

The trailhead leads to continued fiscal prudence and sound operational practices or else, quite simply, we squander what we have been so fortunate to receive.

The trailhead leads to environmentally sustainable, responsible stewardship of this historically significant campus and remarkable cultural properties so that we never forget that Cranbrook is itself an integral work of art, as much as a crucible for ideas.

That said, as important as where the trail ahead leads, is why we tread the path in the first place. After all, we might miss or be deterred from our destination if we are not fully cognizant of, and committed to, why we are seeking it.

We often say that “Cranbrook challenges minds and transforms lives.” That is the vision statement of Cranbrook Educational Community and at the heart of any educational endeavor is transformation: the life-altering change in who we are based upon what we learn from those we meet; the opportunity for growth that comes from engagement with challenging ideas, from encounters with arresting land and hardscapes, and from communion with complicated forms.

Transformation abounds here: The dialog around a table in a classroom where students’ insights teach the teacher; debate among artists in critique that reveals theory and motive behind the craft; cognizance of mortality when standing before the jaws of a prehistoric Tyrannosaurus Rex; art that while silent speaks volumes, and architecture that awakens us to painstaking detail and its importance.

Transformation also is rooted in openness and eagerness for encounters with those - and the work of those - who hold beliefs, who have had experiences, and who have identities and affinities, passions and expertise that differ from our own. As we navigate the exciting chapters ahead, let’s recognize that all who visit, live, and learn on this campus or through our programs have something to share, and to teach, and to transform us as we extend ourselves humbly with questions about the experiences of others, what they need for teaching and learning, expression, and wellbeing; as we widen the definition of community and deepen the tone of our welcome; and as we constantly improve how we, as representatives and ambassadors of Cranbrook, ensure the ability of this community to be a catalytic center for the exchange of trailblazing ideas for years to come.

With transformation as our inspiration, Cranbrook has and, I believe, will continue to blaze new trails – in culture and community, in practice and partnership, in our operations, in our stewardship. Thank you for your partnership because it is with you that we tread the path, and will continue to extend, to widen, and to improve all Cranbrook Educational Community can offer and can be.

Sincerely,

Aimeclaire Roche, President
Cranbrook Educational Community
248.645.3100 | presidentsoffice@cranbrook.edu

 


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