Fred Lazarus IV is president of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where since 1978 he has led the evolution of the College into a globally recognized leader in transformative art and design education. Under his leadership, MICA's enrollment has more than doubled; the size of the campus has increased tenfold; the endowment has grown by more than 25 times; three research centers have been created; and seventeen undergraduate and graduate academic programs have been added. Today, MICA's MFA graduate programs are ranked in the top 10 nationally by US News and World Report, and Parade magazine recently promoted MICA's undergraduate studio arts programs as one of the top two nationwide. Programming instituted by the College in both interdisciplinary study and community and social engagement have sparked international trends in higher education. President Lazarus received an Honorable Mention for The Baltimore Sun's Marylander of the Year Award in 2012, was featured in Baltimore magazine's 2011 "power" listing of the city's most influential people, and was awarded the 2010 Founders Award for Civic Leadership from Partners for Livable Communities.
Beyond MICA, President Lazarus is a national leader in the advancement and integration of the arts, education, and community development. He served as founding chair of both Americans for the Arts and the National Coalition for Education in the Arts, and has also chaired the Maryland Independent College and Universities Association, the Arts Education Committee of the American Council for the Arts, and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance. He is the founding and current chair of Central Baltimore Partnership, a founding board member of both the Midtown Development Corporation board and the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design, and serves on numerous other boards of directors, including Partners for Livable Communities, Arts Every Day, and Americans for the Arts. He is also a founder and vice-chair of the Baltimore Design School.
While Lazarus has overseen innovations in academic programming that are global in scope, much of his work has also been focused on improving the cultural and economic vitality of Baltimore. In fact, thanks in large part to Lazarus's leadership, Baltimore's reputation as a cultural destination has exploded in recent years. He was instrumental in launching the city's annual Artscape festival, which has become the largest free arts festival in the United States. Anchored on MICA's campus and extending out for multiple city blocks, Artscape annually draws more than 350,000 visitors and has an economic impact on Maryland approaching $26 million. Likewise, his leadership in opening MICA's Graduate Studio Center on a neglected stretch of Baltimore's North Avenue triggered the revitalization of that entire area and its subsequent designation as Maryland's first official Arts and Entertainment District. Now known as Station North, and fueled by energy from MICA's student body and other cultural enthusiasts, its galleries, performance spaces, eateries, and shops are havens for individuals seeking creative pursuits and constitute an economic engine for the city. His advocacy helped persuade the MICA board of trustees to make community development an integral part of the College's mission and strategic plan, and the College has used its growth to anchor expanded business opportunities based on the arts, the development of residential spaces, and the of recruitment artists to live and work in areas adjacent to the school. Through Lazarus's strong encouragement, MICA's senior leadership staff and faculty serve on and chair dozens of cultural and economic development boards across the city.
Lazarus's unique understanding of how to leverage art and education to economically and culturally empower communities is rooted in his own education and early career. He earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in economics from Claremont-McKenna College. After serving two years in the Peace Corps, he eventually became president of the Washington Council for Equal Business Opportunity, where he helped secure business investment in impoverished areas of the nation's capital. He later served as senior aide to the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts before coming to MICA. He has received numerous honors and awards, including the Baltimore City Mayor's Award, the National Art Education Association's Distinguished Service Award, and an honorary doctorate from Osaka University for the Arts in Japan. He is married to Jonna Lazarus, award-winning landscape designer and founder of Lazarus Design Associates.