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Deanna Tillisch elected MIAD board chair

MIAD’s new board chair, Deanna Tillisch

Deanna Tillisch was elected chair of MIAD’s Board of Trustees at the college’s Annual Meeting in June, succeeding outgoing Board Chair Sarah Zimmerman.

Tillisch says the timing was perfect. The retired President and CEO of UPAF had completed her tenure as board chair of Imagine MKE and has been a long-time member of MIAD’s board. “I joined the board in 2010,” she says, “and am deeply committed to the college. My daughter Morgan is a student at MIAD who will graduate next spring.”

Following are excerpts from a phone interview in July 2023.

“What I love about MIAD is the student’s individual experience. Students feel comfortable here. They are appreciated for their distinct talent and abilities. The college’s commitment to diversity is impressive.  Ensuring that individuals from all different backgrounds are welcomed has been a longstanding priority.

MIAD has a competitive advantage because it is small enough to be nimble and transformative at a time when higher education is facing major challenges with demographic shifts and an unsteady economy. Further, families want to be assured they are making a wise investment in their child’s education. We have the data and stories that demonstrate to parents and prospective students that a MIAD education will pay dividends. 

I appreciate MIAD’s commitment to being a community partner, especially with its outreach to other universities. We do not try to replicate what other schools are doing that fall outside our focus areas, but instead strategically build on our strengths.

MIAD is reimagining itself to meet the interests of students and the community. We’ve grown not only our student body, but also through our successful $10 million comprehensive campaign, Lubar Innovation Center, business and nonprofit partnerships, our new distinctive Fashion and Apparel Design major and the just-opened MIAD Gallery at The Avenue.

Together with an incredible board that has an amazing depth of knowledge and experience, MIAD is, and can continue to be, a forerunner in higher education, ensuring our students are prepared for the workplace and that their experience is worth their time and investment. 

It’s an exciting time for MIAD as we enter into our 50th anniversary year, which is a testament to the value of the education MIAD offers and to our generous donors, who are incredibly thoughtful. They simply would not support the college if they did not believe in our mission. I am so pleased to see and feel the tremendous energy on campus. I look forward to being part of the journey to build on that momentum.”

See the related story on MIAD’s new board members.


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