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Cecelia Fitzgibbon Named to Succeed Dr. Happy Fernandez as President of Moore College of Art & Design

For Immediate Release
February 23, 2012

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) – The Boards of Trustees and Managers of Moore College of Art & Design today announced the selection of Cecelia Fitzgibbon as the College’s new president beginning in July 2012.  Fitzgibbon will succeed Dr. Happy Craven Fernandez, who announced last May her intent to step down from the leadership post she has held since 1999. 

Fitzgibbon has spent the last 16 years as a professor, director and department head for Drexel University’s Arts Administration and Arts & Entertainment Enterprise programs.  Since 1996, she has directed Drexel University's Graduate Arts Administration Program, which has earned a reputation for equipping highly skilled students to lead and manage cultural organizations. She was a professor in the program, focusing her research on leadership and transition in the cultural ecosystem. She also served as the department head for Arts and Entertainment Enterprise and, in that capacity, advised the dean on matters related to curriculum development and educational policy.  Fitzgibbon was recognized for her contributions in arts and culture when she was named in 2011 as one of the region’s top Creative Connectors by Leadership Philadelphia.

“Last June, we began a national search for the individual who would continue to move the College forward as a leading educational institution that prepares students for careers in art and design,” said Richard Hevner, chair of Moore’s 11-member Search Committee and treasurer of the Board of Trustees.  “As it turns out, we are the beneficiary of this region’s rich cultural and academic fabric and are delighted that our search led us to one of Philadelphia’s bright stars, Cecelia Fitzgibbon.  Her deep experience in academia and arts administration will be a great asset to the Moore community,” Hevner said.   

"I am honored to become part of Moore College of Art & Design and its mission of educating emerging artists to become contributing professionals and creative workers.  Moore has a 164-year history and rising national profile of pioneering educational and cultural initiatives for undergraduate women and coeducational graduate students. I am thrilled to join the faculty, staff and students who make an impact through art. President Fernandez has done a remarkable job to position the College for the future, which makes the opportunity to lead this institution such an exciting one,” said Fitzgibbon.

Fitzgibbon will join Moore at a time of great strength for the College.  Dr. Fernandez’s transformative tenure has been distinguished by her role as a tireless advocate for Moore.  Her leadership and vision have led to academic innovation, capital improvements and financial stability, as well as a nearly 30 percent increase in student enrollment. 

“Dr. Fernandez’s decision last spring was one that we were all reluctant to embrace for she has been such an agent of positive change for Moore during her 13 years here,” said Moore’s Board of Managers Chair Art Block.  “Under her leadership, there have been so many extraordinary accomplishments and firsts, including Moore’s first co-educational graduate degree programs, a successful $30 million capital campaign, the first endowed professorship, a paid Internship Fellowship for every junior, and more than $3.5 million in new scholarships and fellowships,” he said.  “We extend our deepest gratitude to Dr. Fernandez.” 

“When we look back on her time here, we will collectively know that Happy’s greatest gift to Moore was her ability to raise up leaders all around her and then to inspire them to do great work.  It didn’t matter whether you were an 18-year-old student, an alum from the class of 1964, a potential benefactor, an artist, a political figure, employer, faculty or staff member or some other constituent.  Her legacy has been helping all of us recognize our own potential and in doing so, the potential of this historic College,” added Moore Board of Trustees Chair Frances Graham ’66. “Happy has created a tremendous platform for Moore’s next generation of leadership, and with Cecelia’s vision and demonstrated ability to lead dynamic organizations, I believe the trajectory for Moore will continue to be impressive.”

Dr. Fernandez will preside over Moore’s Commencement May 13 and will officially resign at the end of June 2012.  Fitzgibbon will assume the role of president in July 2012.


Moore College of Art & Design educates students for inspiring careers in art and design. Founded in 1848, Moore is the nation's first and only women's art college. Moore's career-focused environment and professionally active faculty form a dynamic community in the heart of Philadelphia's cultural district. The College offers nine Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees for women. A coeducational Graduate Studies program was launched in summer, 2009. In addition, Moore provides many valuable opportunities in the arts through The Galleries at Moore, a Continuing Education Certificate program for adults, the 91-year-old acclaimed Youth Art Program for girls and boys grades 1-12, The Art Shop and the Sculpture Park. For more information about Moore, visit

Published on February 23rd, 2012