The Savannah College of Art and Design recently announced that Darrell Naylor-Johnson will serve as the new vice president for SCAD Savannah.
Both a SCAD alumnus and professor, Naylor-Johnson has been a part of the SCAD community for more than 30 years.
He initially became acquainted with the university back in 1980 when his high school art teacher recommended he pursue his collegiate studies at the then new art school.
After graduating, Naylor-Johnson went on to complete an M.F.A. in painting from Pennsylvania State University, and then he became a SCAD professor in 1992 teaching foundation studies.
In 2000, he was promoted to Dean of the School of Fine Arts. Since then, he has served the SCAD community in a number of leadership roles including assistant vice president for academic services, vice president for SCAD eLearning, interim associate vice president for SCAD Atlanta, and senior director of library services.
Having begun on June 13, Naylor-Johnson said he is honored and excited to take on this new role.
“I will have the honor of serving as an ambassador to the Savannah community,” Naylor-Johnson said.
He will champion the school’s SCAD SERVE collaborations, which engage the entire SCAD community in helping those in need.
“Our students, faculty and staff listen and respond to the needs of our neighbors and local leaders to create meaningful design solutions to improve the quality of life for all involved,” he remarked.
“I will also be engaging with community leaders and our neighborhoods to continue to engage them in SCAD events and inform them about new initiatives, new degree programs, new partnerships that bring the world’s top brands to Savannah, and our growing economic impact,” he added.
Over the years, he’s seen the relationship between SCAD and the local Savannah community thrive.
“Since its founding, SCAD has had a natural inclination towards communion with the greater Savannah community.” He hopes to see this relationship continue to blossom. “I think that SCAD and Savannah have both grown in scope over the years. . . There is a greater integration of involvement and engagement happening in very organic ways,” he began.
“There are so many intersecting impact points between SCAD and our local community. For example, my church has an elevator and bell tower thanks to a SCAD architecture faculty member who also attends the church, who designed and drafted the plans for the structure,” he explained.
As SCAD continues to impact the local community in positive ways, Naylor-Johnson expects the relationship to grow even stronger.
Naylor-Johnson plans to enhance the learning experience for SCAD students by relying on those touchpoints within the community.
“The students who attend SCAD in Savannah see Savannah as their home away from home. They are eager to volunteer through the university’s SCAD SERVE initiative — from designing and building homes for homeless mothers to teaching art to disadvantaged children. Many of our alumni choose to stay in Savannah, to work, start new businesses and raise their families.”
He continued, “22% of SCAD’s 50,000 global alumni remain in Georgia after graduation and SCAD alumni own and operate more than 120 businesses in Savannah. In my new role, I hope to continue the work of connecting our talented students to this community by fostering new collaborations.”
When Naylor-Johnson first learned of the new role, he said he was a little overwhelmed by “the enormity of the position.”
But he said that was quickly washed over as he reflected on the people that he has come to know working at SCAD.
“They are kind, generous, collaborative, smart people who, in no matter what role I have played at SCAD, have been supportive and great colleagues,” he expressed.
He draws upon his vast experience within the university and the local community, which he feels has prepared him for his new role.
“My contextual experience and history as an educator at SCAD and my work in the community have been intertwined in many ways for many years.”
He recalled the university’s early days when SCAD founder and president Paula Wallace first introduced their now-lauded Sidewalk Arts Festival.
“As an educator, she recognizes the importance and the power of teachable moments like the festival. Many new traditions and ideas . . . have evolved since those early days. Being a part of these many aspects of SCAD and the community has been a naturally-occurring process that I think in the end has collectively prepared me for this new role,” he said.
In the future, Naylor-Johnson expects SCAD to continue to grow and impact communities and industries both locally and globally.
“SCAD is a dynamic and evolving organism. At the core of this conception of SCAD is an intelligent design element whereby growth and evolution come from the interactions, collaboration, global connections, research and creativity of the SCAD community. I think the future will be the outgrowth of today’s work and our collective aspirations. My goal is to contribute as mightily as I can to those efforts.”
To learn more about SCAD, visit scad.edu