John Maeda, Innovative President Of RISD, Departs For Silicon Valley

After just six years as president of the Rhode Island School of Design, John Maeda is moving on.

He announced today in a video message to RISD faculty, staff, and students that he will move to Silicon Valley next month to assume the position of design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, while also chairing the eBay Design Advisory Board.

Maeda, a renowned digital designer with a puckish wit and love for Twitter, was a dark horse candidate for the presidency of the hallowed art and design school. In 2011 he faced a vote of no confidence from faculty who didn’t like his leadership style and unabashed embrace of technology, including stunts like giving every 2010 graduate an “artrepreneur” kit featuring a Square credit card reader.

But more recently he’s drawn praise as a national advocate for arts education, and for helping his BFA grads conquer a brutal economy, reporting a 97% job placement rate for the class of 2012.

“I am passionate about revealing art and design’s role in innovation, and this next step represented irresistible pathways to strengthen design’s place in the digital age,” Maeda said on his departure. “At the same time, I feel privileged to have led this amazing community, and I know that I leave RISD as the best art and design school in the world and with every opportunity that it will be even better in the years to come.”AK