Class of 2024: A Letter from Head of School Charlie White

Posted on May 13, 2024

Grid of images of students and their families at the School of Art Diploma Ceremony

Dear School of Art Community,

I’m thrilled to be writing this after such a special weekend for our School, as we celebrated a most incredible and accomplished group of students, the class of 2024, together on Saturday. 

I had the pleasure of presiding over the School of Art Diploma Ceremony, and as I shared in my remarks, part of what makes the 2024 cohort truly exceptional is how it began its journey: through the hurdles of the pandemic, bringing creativity and resilience to inconceivable times. Their ability to build connection in the absence of common spaces — to test the boundaries of what is possible and forge meaning — truly sets them apart, and it’s a testament to the strength of our community.

That defining spirit is present at this very moment, in an academic year marked by both challenges and triumphs. Our truly international community, with students hailing from six continents, is built on a foundation where every voice is embraced, and I am continually inspired by the power of our incredible artists and creative thinkers coming together. In moments like this weekend, as we witnessed our students’ families, friends, and loved ones gathered in celebration, I am encouraged by the profound strength of our shared bonds. No matter the hurdle, there will always be moments of incredible joy, opportunities for close community, and periods for progress and deeper understanding.

To that end, I also want to take a moment to recognize the many achievements of this academic year and highlight just a few of the standout accomplishments from our global community. 

Thanks to the generosity of CMU alumnus Francis Collins and his wife, Erin, we saw the direct impact of the Collins Family Fund on our first-year students. Exposure to all mediums is an essential part of our curriculum, and I am so proud that our first-year students are receiving full support for tools and materials throughout their foundational courses. Also on campus, the reopening of The Frame, following a major renovation, reintroduced a vital student-run gallery to showcase the work of our undergraduate students. CMU added two multi-paneled works from past and current students to its permanent installations: Angelica Bonilla “A.B.” Fominaya’s (BCSA `23) “In the Footsteps of a Stranger” invites us to embrace hospitality and kindness in Posner Hall, and first-year student Bella Alt’s wonderfully chromatic “Four Birds” now hangs in Wean Hall. Lastly, our seniors brought their collective explorations to this year’s culminating show, “Resonance,” filling all three floors of the Miller ICA. 

Furthering our goal to create equitable access, I am particularly proud of our announcement that the School will now provide full tuition funding for all MFA students. This significant change will deeply impact the lives of our current and future cohorts, marking a transformative step forward for the program. Among our graduate students, Inbar Hagai was selected for a virtual realm residency with the Media Under Dystopia Foundation, while Sobia Ahmad and Anisha Baid presented work here in Pittsburgh in a multi-site exhibition downtown and at the city’s 820 Gallery, respectively. We also caught up with MFA alumna Shana Moulton about her site-specific installation at the Museum of Modern Art, titled “Meta/Physical Therapy,” which is the latest chapter in her two-decade exploration of a semi-autobiographical alter ego she first developed at CMU.

Our faculty received several prestigious honors this year. Professor and Director of our MFA program Katherine Hubbard was awarded a 2024 Guggenheim Fellowship, and Professor and Director of the Miller ICA Elizabeth Chodos was named the Johnson Family Public Art Curator, honoring the generous contribution from CMU alumni Cindy and Tod Johnson to support public art on our campus and the future ICA Pittsburgh. Two faculty members — Professor Isla Hansen and Professor Britt Ransom — and an alumna, Rebecca Shapass (MFA `23), each received The Heinz Endowments’ Creative Development Awards. If you’re in Pittsburgh, be sure to see Hansen’s commissioned exhibition at the Mattress Factory Museum on view through March 2025.

After more than 25 years at the School of Art, we’re saying goodbye to Professor James Duesing as he retires this year, culminating his tenure as the longest serving faculty member in the Electronic and Time-Based Media (ETB) area. His vision, energy, and passion for progress will always be a part of who we are! Another integral part of our community for the last several years, Alisha B. Wormsley will join us in the fall as a new tenure-track assistant professor in the area of Social Practice. Professor Jongwoo Jeremy Kim published his newest book Male Bodies Unmade: Picturing Queer Selfhood, and Professor Lyndon Barrois Jr. will head to London for the next academic year for The Starr Fellowship, an artist residency at the prestigious Royal Academy of Arts. Lastly, I want to wish our long-serving marketing and communications leader Andy Ptaschinski all the best on his new chapter in Denver and thank him for everything that he’s accomplished for the School over the years, as we also welcome our new Marketing and Communications Manager, Phillip Crook, to our staff.

In closing, I want to again extend my heartfelt congratulations to the class of 2024 and to all members of our community on another successful academic year! I wish you all a rejuvenating summer.


Charlie White
Regina and Marlin Miller Head of School
School of Art
Professor of Art
Carnegie Mellon University