Natalia Ilyin’s Take on RISD’s Vote of No Confidence for John Maeda

Just a few short years ago, the design world was thrilled to hear that MIT tech guru, John Maeda, was going to be taking the helm at the Rhode Island School of Design. However, shortly after taking control, the trouble began. Between Hope Alwang‘s high-profile quick and mysterious exit and a variety of missteps along the way, Maeda’s management came to be something of an ongoing battle, culminating in last week’s faculty vote of no confidence of their still relatively-new president. While both the school and Maeda himself are now attempting to repair the damage, reporting on all the good things he’s done in his tenure, design writer, educator, and one-time critic at RISD, Natalia Ilyin, has filed this great read on her personal blog, telling the other side of the story. While she places much of the blame on Maeda’s head, she also makes note that the school itself is to blame, believing that bringing in a well-known innovator would make them more cutting edge and improve their abilities to teach in new ways. In the end, to paraphrase, everyone failed. Here’s a section of her essay, painting particularly negative portrait of the school’s now-struggling president:

Maeda’s made so many enemies and done so many wrong-headed things in such a short amount of time that I am reminded once again that IQ and intelligence are not the same thing. He’s made many sweeping administrative errors, but it is this that bothers me: he thinks himself more intelligent than those who surround him and those who have gone before him. And since he believes himself more intelligent and advanced than the people that went before him, he assumes that what they believed is not true anymore, is outdated. This is a false syllogism.