Since starting her role at West Valley College in June of this year as Dean of the Bill and Leila Cilker School of Art and Design, Shannon Price hasn’t let anything—even the COVID-19 pandemic—stop her from making sure the college’s art and design program is welcoming and accessible to everyone. Price is an art, design, and fashion curator, historian, and educator with extensive leadership experience at New York City cultural and academic institutions, including Parsons School of Design, Pratt Institute, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She shares her story and vision for the college’s art and design program below.
I am thrilled and honored to have been appointed Dean of Art and Design at West Vally College and would like to give you some insight into my “why.” I spent seven years in leadership at the country's premier private Art and Design schools where I struggled with the lack of diversity, inclusion, and access to art and design education that has historically led to similar issues in the industry itself
When I moved back to my home state of California in 2019, I was hoping to find a way to be part of a solution and have long thought that community college would be a salient way to impact these discrepancies. I relish the idea of bringing my years of experience and international network to bear in a meaningful way. The Bay Area's world-renowned innovations in technology and sustainability are ripe for collaborations and support and could make West Valley College an enticing, affordable, inclusive alternative, or conduit to private art schools.
Utilizing the combination of my subject matter expertise, academic experience, and leadership abilities, I envision the Cilker School of Art and Design as a vibrant and accessible educational offering that can play a vital role in systemic industry, community, and cultural transformation both locally and globally. Through my work, I have seen how art and design schools worldwide serve students before, during, and after their academic years. A common theme is that artists and designers are critical players in culture and industry and need technical and creative skills to succeed and compete.
My vision for a world-class community college art and design school is one that exposes students to cutting-edge technology and equipment to make sure students leave with the skills they need to support themselves and contribute to their industry and community. Additionally, art and design students need to understand how to feed their imagination and nurture their creativity long after leaving West Valley College to ensure a lasting and fulfilling career.
Creating a culture of curiosity, encouraging research and collaboration, and providing a foundation based on a contextual understanding of art and design history and theory adds a dimension to the curricular offerings not seen at most community colleges. I am working to build bridges to the industry that can materially support student success through financial aid and internships and work on transfer and articulation agreements to art and design universities globally. My goal is to create programs that prepare students to enter the workforce or continue their education through transfer to be as ready as possible for competitive industries by offering an internationally recognized art and design education with low cost and high impact.
The Cilker School of Art and Design offers architecture and design, visual arts, and performing arts education in the heart of Silicon Valley and was recently accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design—a rare feat for a community college and an accolade that will assist West Vally College in elevating transfer opportunities for our art and design students by creating more robust articulation agreements with accredited four-year art and design schools on a national scale.
See the variety of programs and classes offered at the Cilker School of Art and Design.