UArts President and CEO David Yager Announces June 2023 Retirement

May 24, 2022

University of the Arts President and CEO David Yager announced to the university’s Board of Trustees that he intends to step down from the presidency and ultimately retire on June 30, 2023. President Yager will remain in his position for the next year to provide support during this transitional period as the university launches the search for his successor.

“Leading this incredible creative community has been the highlight of my career, and it has been a true honor and privilege to serve our university and its inspiring students,” Yager remarked. “Since I arrived at UArts in 2016, my singular intention has been to leave our university in a stronger position than I found it. I sincerely believe that by working collaboratively with our students, staff, faculty and trustees, we have done just that. Together, we have placed the university on a new and visionary trajectory.

“Though I will be stepping away from UArts at the conclusion of the next academic year, it will be impossible to completely separate myself from this extraordinary institution. UArts has simply become an integral part of my DNA.”

Judson A. Aaron BM ’81 (Saxophone), chair of the Board of Trustees and a UArts alum, said, “David’s leadership during his time at UArts has been nothing short of transformational. Because of his thoughtful guidance and visionary ideas, I am confident that our university is poised for a new chapter of continued success. I know that I speak for the entire board when I express my deepest gratitude that David will serve for an additional year as we begin the challenging task of finding his successor.”

Since being named just the university’s fourth president in 2016, Yager’s presidency has been marked with success. In 2018, he led the initiative to articulate the university’s mission, Advancing Human Creativity, to better reflect UArts’ focus on cross-disciplinary artistic excellence and innovation. Yager also implemented and oversaw Uniquely UArts, the university’s first-ever capital campaign, which concluded last month. The immensely successful $67 million campaign grew the university’s endowment by more than $24 million, funded several major campus capital projects, provided more than $5 million in student scholarships and offered students critical support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The campaign allowed UArts to radically transform its historic campus, delivering compelling and state-of-the-art new learning spaces for students, such as the Center for Immersive Media, the Albert M. Greenfield Makerspace and the Laurie Wagman Recording Studios. Additionally, the construction of a new student center in Gershman Hall, supported in part by $3.5 million in grants from Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, will begin this summer. During Yager’s tenure, the university also acquired the Philadelphia Art Alliance and restored the Italian Renaissance–style building to its position as a “living room for the arts” for the city of Philadelphia.

Yager’s vision has been responsible for numerous programmatic advances, including UArts’ international MFA in Dance and the PhD in Creativity, the first program of its kind in the nation, which graduated its inaugural class last week. The university recently announced a fellowship opportunity for the program, supported by Questlove and The Balvenie. Through the fellowship, one creative individual received a fully funded three-year journey to bolster their research through immersion in creative thinking. The inaugural fellow, acclaimed saxophonist and composer James Brandon Lewis, will join the program this summer.