Jonathan Burke, President of LCAD, Announces Retirement

Jonathan Burke: The Architect and Engineer of a Success Story. The Heart and Soul of a College.

Forty years at Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD). Ten years as President and CEO. The “Lucky 13th“President of the College. Five leadership roles on his journey to the top. There’s something oddlycomforting and natural in celebrating milestone numbers for leaders. But the truth is that the realmarkers of Jonathan Burke’s success are not tied to rounded numbers or anniversaries. They are tied to the intangibles: the strategic relationships he cultivated along the way, the community-centric culture that he propagated throughout the organization, the academic rigor for which he held everyone accountable and the leadership that successfully guided the college and its people to achieve the international standing that LCAD has today.

As he formally announces his retirement (effective December 31, 2020), members of the LCAD community reflect on the profound impact his leadership has had on the institution, its people, and the communities it serves.Jared Mathis, current Chairman of the LCAD Board of Trustees, speaks of the enthusiastic and undying affection that the Board collectively shares for Burke. “His infectious smile, great warmth and unassuming brand of leadership will be sorely missed. His spirit is woven into the fabric of the college. Under his leadership, LCAD has transformed into a premier art college with global recognition.”

“From breathtaking advancements in LCAD's facilities and technology to the creation of cutting-edge majors, Jonathan Burke implemented his vision for LCAD with a steady hand. Jonathan's remarkable reputation in the industry, his love of the arts and great connection to our Laguna Beach community will be impossible to replace,” Mathis adds.

Burke joined LCAD, then known as Laguna Beach School of Art, as a Fine Arts instructor in 1980. His rapport with the students and his extraordinary artistic talents positioned him for growth and leadership within the organization. He soon took on the responsibilities of Chair of Fine Arts, then Dean of Fine Arts, Interim Dean of Visual Communications, and Co-VP of Academic Affairs, which led him to his role as President and CEO.

During Burke’s tenure as President, the school experienced unprecedented evolution and improvements that positioned LCAD for strategically-minded and responsibly-managed growth that allowed the college to provide the state-of-the-art facilities and extensive services to its staff, faculty and, most importantly, its students. The college added East Campus, which houses the Suzanne Chonette Senior Studios and the Administration Building; South Campus, home to campus housing, AR/VR, graphic design, fine arts photography classrooms and photography and recording studios; the LCAD Gallery in downtown Laguna Beach; and expansion of the Big Bend Campus, home to classrooms and studios for animation, graphic design and game art.

With Burke at the helm, the school also added the MFA programs in Drawing, Painting and Game Design, a Post-Baccalaureate program and new majors including Entertainment Design, Experimental Animation.

A constant voice and advocate for the students, Burke is a driving force behind the development of a capital campaign to build a new student center at the Big Bend Campus, designed to enhance the student experience.

Terry Jones, Mathis’ successor as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, adds, “Jonathan’s life's work has left an indelible mark both on LCAD as an institution and on countless students, faculty, staff and volunteers. Before the end of the year, we look forward to celebrating his tenure in a way that is befitting of his grand legacy.”

As Jonathan Burke embarks on his well-deserved retirement, he can find solace in knowing that the LCAD community will carry on this legacy in every aspect of the institution. His heart and soul are - and always will be - embedded deep within the DNA of the school.


A Personal Message from Jonathan Burke