Farewell to Sammy Hoi

Farewell Celebrations for Sammy

A “Farewell Celebration” is an oxymoron, like a graduation, which is an exit, being called a “commencement.” But it is also customary to say “Good-by and Good Luck.” Our beloved President, Samuel Hoi is stepping down and is leaving Otis College of Art and Design for Maryland Institute College of Art. The exit of Sammy, as he is known to everyone, is a loss, not just for the College but for the Los Angeles-Orange County area as well. For years, he had been doing a “report” on the “creative economy” generated for the state by the arts communities, from film to fashion. As the Los Angeles Times reported in 2007,

All told, the creative economy accounted for about 1 million in direct and indirect jobs, generating $140 billion in sales in Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to the study by the nonprofit Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. The report underscores how the creative sector extends beyond Hollywood’s glamour, making it a key, sometimes under appreciated, driver of the region’s growth. Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles commissioned the $40,000 study in an effort to highlight the importance of arts education in schools, and to spur government officials to provide business incentives for arts industry employers. “We are a much richer creative economy than just Hollywood,” said school President Samuel Hoi. “Our leaders need to look at the data to know who we are and where we are going, so we can invest in our future.”

Indeed as MICA itself reported, the annual report on the local creative economy was instrumental in its courting (and winning) of Sammy:

In selecting Hoi, the board particularly noted his bold steps to highlight art and design’s tangible impact, as evidenced by the annual Otis Report on the Creative Economy produced under his direction, and his efforts to position Otis students as community engagement leaders through the launch of the Creative Action: An Integrated Learning Program curriculum model. Under Hoi’s leadership, enrollment at Otis increased as much as 34 percent, operating resources have more than doubled and the endowment has more than tripled, attributable in part to a 200 percent increase in individual donors.

The past weeks have been ones of sad goodbyes and many speeches and numerous gifts showered on Sammy, including a doctoral degree from Otis, a doctoral robe inscribed inside with the phrase “We’ve got your back,” and a core of concrete extracted from the College’s main building mounted on a pedestal. In addition to the official Otis party to wish Sammy well, many of the departments also had their own events to wish him luck in his new position. I am personally grieving that Sammy is moving on to new opportunities. I have known Sammy for fifteen years and am aware of how his vibrant presence moved Otis from the 20th to the 21st century. (And yes, I am holding four cupcakes–I was bringing them to my friends. I have friends.)

Good Luck, Sammy. We will miss you.


Me and Sammy

Photo Credit: Michael Wright, Otis Faculty and one of my friends.