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Guide to the Records of President Francis Ruzicka, 1953-1970

Collection Overview

Kellen Design Archives
Ruzicka, Francis A., 1924-2003
Records of President Francis A. Ruzicka, 1953-1970, undated, (Bulk, 1963-1969)
1.2 linear ft: 3 boxes
Consists of records created and received by Francis A. Ruzicka, President of Parsons School of Design from 1963 until his resignation in 1969. Contains correspondence, financial records, handwritten notes, minutes, and reports, primarily circulated between President Ruzicka and the Parsons School of Design Board of Trustees.

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Biographical note

Francis ("Frank") A. Ruzicka was the last president of Parsons; the position was eliminated when Parsons became affiliated with the New School in 1970.

Ruzicka was born in Chicago in 1924 and studied engineering at the University of Michigan. He served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II and completed his bachelor's degree in 1946. After working as an engineer, he returned to school and earned a BFA in drawing and painting from the Art Institute of Chicago. Following a teaching assignment at the University of Wisconsin, he joined the faculty of Parsons School of Design in 1957, and taught drawing in the Design in Industry and Editorial and Fashion Illustration departments. While teaching at Parsons, he earned an MFA in painting (1963) and an MS in art education (1965) from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Ruzicka served as an assistant dean and an administrative dean before becoming president of Parsons School of Design in 1963. He announced his resignation from Parsons in 1969.

The research and preparation for many of the changes that Parsons School of Design underwent in the early 1970s was conducted under Ruzicka's presidency. Prior to his resignation, the school applied for and received authority from the Regents of the University of the State of New York to grant bachelor's degrees. However, the program was not implemented until after Parsons became affiliated with the New School for Social Research. Under Ruzicka, the Parsons administration also engaged in considerable preparatory activity to expand its curriculum into the liberal arts and to begin offering master's degree programs. Additionally, the Ruzicka adminstration recognized that the cramped, leased space on East 54th Street housing the school was hampering Parsons' ability to expand. To remedy the problem, Ruzicka undertook a campaign to move the school's facilities into a new "vertical campus," but this was never realized, and the school did not move downtown until after its affiliation with the New School.

After leaving Parsons, Ruzicka became dean at Ohio State University's College of the Arts and, in 1976, was elected chair of the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia, Athens. He retired in 1993. Francis A. Ruzicka died in 2003.


Online Athens, Athens Banner-Herald. 2003 May 10. http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/051003/obi_20030510041.shtml

University of Georgia press release 2003 May 7. http://www.uga.edu/news/newsbureau/releases/2003releases/0305/030507ruzicka.html


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Scope and Contents of Collection

The records in this subgroup are part of the Parsons Institutional Collections, Dean's and president's office records (PIC.01). They were created or received by Francis A. Ruzicka during his term as president of Parsons School of Design, and during the course of his earlier roles at Parsons. Some records pre-date Ruzicka's arrival at Parsons. It is unclear how these records came into Ruzicka's possession.

The records are divided into three series: Administration, Board of Trustees, and Departments and programs. Files are not comprehensive -- for example, not all departments are represented in Departments and programs. Administrative records covering the same time span will be found in the records of David C. Levy, who served as director of admissions and assumed the leadership of Parsons School of Design following Ruzicka's departure.

Although the Board of Trustees series documents meetings of this governing body, researchers should be aware that the other two series also include a large number of records addressed to or received from the Board of Trustees, particularly Chairman Richard M. Paget, reflecting the important administrative role played by the Board prior to Parsons' affiliation with the New School for Social Research in 1970. This executive governing body made many of the decisions regarding institutional affairs and worked closely with the Office of the President.

Of particular note is documentation concerning the school's fiscal crisis and efforts to resolve it in the 1960s, a crisis that ultimately resulted in Parsons School of Design's affiliation with the New School for Social Research. Also included are records of the school's ongoing preparations to become a degree-granting institution, to expand the curriculum, and to construct a "vertical campus" with adequate classroom space, administrative offices, and housing. While these goals were not achieved during Ruzicka's presidency, they were implemented in the following decade.


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Organization and Arrangement

Organized in 3 series:

  1. Administration, 1955-1970
  2. Board of Trustees, 1953-1970
  3. Departments and programs, 1963-1968

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Administrative Information

Collection guide written by the Kellen Design Archives; initial processing by Anne Kumer, 2007

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives December 13, 2011

66 5th Ave./
lobby level/
New York, NY, 10011

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the Kellen Design Archives. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Records transferred to the Kellen Design Archives from the Office of the Dean, Parsons School of Design.

External Support

The processing of these records was supported in part by a grant from the J. Paul Getty Trust.

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Related Materials

The records of Dean David C. Levy (PIC.01.004) include proposals, reports, budgets, and other documents created during the administration of President Ruzicka. David C. Levy served as director of admissions during Ruzicka's presidency and assumed the administrative leadership of Parsons in 1970 following the school's affiliation with the New School for Social Research. Examined together, the Ruzicka and Levy records may provide a fuller picture of the school's administration during the 1960s.

Additional records, such as notices and minutes of the Parsons School Board of Trustees from this period will be found in the Parsons Records of Oversight (PIC.01.001.1).

Other records in the Kellen Design Archives relating to the presidency of Francis Ruzicka include the Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records (PIC.03.002.1) and the Parsons Oral History Collection (PIC.07.001).


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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • Parsons School of Design. Board of Trustees.
  • Parsons School of Design. Faculty Council.
  • Parsons School of Design. Office of the President.


  • Administrative records.
  • Financial records.
  • Minutes.
  • Reports.

Personal Name(s)

  • Levy, David C.
  • Paget, Richard M.


  • Art schools -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Art -- Study and teaching -- New York (State) -- New York -- 20th century.
  • College administrators -- New York (State) -- New York -- 20th century.
  • Fund raising.
  • Universities and colleges -- Administration.
  • Universities and colleges -- Departments.
  • Universities and colleges -- Finance.
  • Universities and colleges -- Trustees.

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Collection Inventory

Series I. Administration 1955-1970 

Includes records pertaining to development, facilities, finance, legal matters, personnel, and general administrative activities.

Title Box Folder
Budget memoranda proposals, 1963-1967  1 1-2
Buildings: Vertical campus, 1967-1969  1 3
By-laws, 1962, 1965, 1969  1 4
Campus memos, 1957-1969  1 5
Correspondence sent and received, 1963-1966  1 6
Enrollment statistics, 1963-1969  1 7
Faculty Council, 1966-1968  1 8-10

Files consist of one to two-page typed memoranda documenting regular meetings between the President, the Dean, and a representative of each department, with Student Council representative sometimes also present. Topics include competitions and exhibitions, curriculum, disciplinary actions, facilities and maintenance, finances, grading, and student activities.

Fashion show, 1963-1964  1 11
Financial crisis, 1969-1970  1 12

File includes records generated during a search for a solution to the financial crisis threatening to bankrupt the institution. Includes correspondence with New School for Social Research Chancellor Harry D. Gideonse.

Financial statements: Price Waterhouse, 1963-1968  1 13
Financial statements: Treasurer, 1963-1966  1 14-21
Handwritten notes, circa 1963  2 1
Personnel: Faculty list and contacts, 1968  2 2
Personnel: Salaries and hours, 1957-1966  2 3-4
Reports: Annual report, 1964 May 21  2 5
Reports: "A Preliminary Evaluation Study Including Recommendations for a Development and Public Relations Program" by Director of Development Sylvia Spencer, 1967 Sep  2 6
Reports: "This Whole Alumni Business," 1966  2 7

Although unattributed, this report was likely authored by Grace Agnew Storey, executive secretary of the Parsons School of Design Alumni Association.

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Series II. Board of Trustees 1953-1970 

Series includes typed meeting agendas, correspondence, notices, reports, and handwritten notes.

Title Box Folder
Agendas and handwritten notes, 1963-1966  2 8
Correspondence with Richard M. Paget, 1953-1970  2 9-13

Correspondence between Board of Trustees Chairman Richard M. Paget and President Ruzicka in addition to Ruzicka's predecessors, Sterling A. Callisen and Pierre Bedard.

Minutes of Executive Committee, 1963-1966  2 14
Minutes of regular meetings, 1963-1967  2 15
Notices and rosters, 1963-1966  2 16
Visiting Committee correspondence and reports, 1963-1964  2 17

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Series III. Departments and programs 1963-1968 
Title Box Folder
BFA degree implementation, 1966-1968  2 18
Curriculum development, 1963-1965  2 19
Interior Design Department, 1965-1966  2 20
Parsons Collection: Course outline, 1960s  2 21
Reports: "Parsons School of Design: Shape and Content for the 1970s", 1969  3 1-3

Includes drafts and final report of a planning document, likely drafted by David C. Levy, submitted to the Board of Trustees. The report proposes a number of incremental additions to the curriculum, including filmmaking and cinematography, product design, urban planning and design, and art education bachelor's degrees and a master's degree program projected for the mid-1970s. Additional documentation on these matters will be found in the David C. Levy records.

Reports: "A Tentative Proposal for the Implentation of a Liberal Arts Program in an Existing Professional Art and Design Curriculum" by Francis A. Ruzicka, 1965 Sep  3 4-5

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Collection guide Last Updated: 08/30/2012

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