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For immediate release (October 6, 2017) Media Contact: Judy Abelman Email: Phone: 440.725.8861...

New president Milan Milasinovic enjoys the support of his namesake predecessor at the Virginia Marti College of Art and Design

By Holly Hammersmith  |  Photo by Don Bensman

Replacing a leader whose reign lasted nearly 50 years may sound like a daunting endeavor, but Milan Milasinovic, the new president of Virginia Marti College of Art and Design, says his vision for the college has been welcomed with open arms.

Milasinovic assumed the role of president in February, taking over for Virginia Marti Veith, who had served the school since its founding in 1966. Now in her 80s, Marti Veith has shifted her focus from running the day-to-day operations of the college to serving as president emeritus and as a member of the college’s board of directors.

“I’m doing nothing else but continuing her legacy, and she loves it,” Milasinovic says.

Milasinovic is new to Cleveland, having most recently served as vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at LIM College in New York. He was also the founding dean of graduate business school and continuing education there. He had previously served as the dean of graduate studies at the London-based European School of Economics.

Based in Lakewood, VMCAD offers degrees in graphic design, interior design, fashion design, and fashion merchandising. The college boasts small class sizes, with only 10 to 15 students per instructor. Faculty members are practicing professionals themselves from the creative industries.

Milasinovic is in contract to purchase the for-profit college over the next two years. His vision for VMCAD includes expanding the college’s program offerings from a two-year associates degree program to include a four-year bachelor’s degree program. He also intends to add an online classroom component, plans to refresh the college’s branding, including its logo (the name of the college will not change), and to expand the school’s presence on a global level with new offices stateside and abroad.

The college’s 50th anniversary is next year and a celebration is already being planned for the fall of 2016. The celebration will coincide with the launch of many of the new program enhancements, Milasinovic says.

“The vision for this college is to start increasing our credentials,” he says. “We want our creative students to know about launching businesses.”

Milasinovic says the college has already applied to have a bachelor’s degree program. The Ohio Board of Regents is seeking approval by March 2016. Students would be able to enroll in the four-year program, which includes a business degree for marketing designers, starting with the fall semester 2016. Milasinovic brings his own business acumen and fashion industry experience to the table as part of this process.

In the future all VMCAD degree programs will be brought online, which is intended to help the college stay competitive and grow enrollment numbers, Milasinovic says.

VMCAD is currently opening offices in New York and Milan, Italy, two locations that are not only high-profile in the fashion industry but that are also locations in which Milasinovic himself also has business connections to help grow the college.

“We’d like to provide international opportunities for our students,” he says.

The offices will serve primarily as placement hubs to plug students into internships, he says. Both offices are expected to open in 2016.

A kickoff celebration of all of the new changes will tie into the school’s 50th anniversary in September 2016. A weekend event will occur after the Republican National Convention takes place in Cleveland that July.

The college’s celebration will include a gala, portfolio reviews for students and the official reveal of a renovated space attached to the school. Also as part of the schools 50th anniversary, VMCAD alumni and stakeholders will be invited back to interact with students. Milasinovic’s long-term vision for VMCAD is to see more engagement between the school, students, and community.

The college has called Detroit Avenue its home since 1985. The rear of the facility includes a large room that students and instructors call the “warehouse.” Once a Warner Brothers theatre, the space was built sometime before 1900 and today serves primarily as storage for props and supplies for students.

Milasinovic intends to have the space renovated over the next year. Its historic value will be commemorated in some fashion and the large space will be used more creatively going forward. This use may include a merchant market where students can sell their works and a venue for fashion shows. These offerings will give the school a “more polished image,” Milasinovic says.

Milasinovic is implementing a multi-layered student support system in order to “create a college that is truly student centered.” These layers include mentorship, coaching, career counseling, financial advising, and tutoring.

Milasinovic, who is in the process of moving from New York along with his wife and young son, says the timing of his leadership at VMCAD venture could not be better.

“I was very fortunate because people needed a change,” he says. “I’ve found here great people, knowledgeable people and people willing to invest time and go the extra mile. All of the change is for the better of our students.”

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