An Artist and an Academic

Dr. Maria J. Puzziferro shares why she’s excited to step into the role of interim president of Santa Fe University of Art and Design

April 2016—In February, the SFUAD Board of Directors announced its appointment of Dr. Maria J. Puzziferro as the interim president of Santa Fe University of Art and Design. With a PhD in Higher Education Administration from New York University, Dr. Puzziferro brings more than 20 years of excellence in leadership in higher education, most recently serving as the president of Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design in Denver, where she revitalized the academic offerings and increased student engagement.

Here, Dr. Puzziferro talks about her new role at Santa Fe University of Art and Design.

What expertise do you bring to your new role?

First, I am very excited to join the SFUAD community! With my background in academic leadership and strong experience with creating innovative campus and online programs, I feel that I bring a global vision to education. I believe it’s important to integrate innovation in curriculum and academic offerings, bringing creativity in by leveraging technology to improve the student academic experience. I have built strong relationships with leaders in the art and design industries, and I’m energized by the amazing talent here on this campus.

I am an artist as well, a metalsmith. I’ve created jewelry for the past 10 years. I primarily work with silver and really enjoy making jewelry that is contemporary. I experiment with forms and shapes. Sometimes things are a terrible failure. Other times an aesthetic surprise. Jewelry is special to me because it’s wearable art; whenever I make a piece for someone, it’s deeply personal. I believe that an artist’s work is to analyze, interpret, and share their perspective on the world, which is why I am proud to serve in a leadership capacity with such a dynamic and diverse student body here at SFUAD. The students support each other as artists, and for their passions and ideas.

What do you hope to achieve at SFUAD?

I want to remain focused on the needs of students and the art and design industry as we continue to strengthen the university. Engagement, community, and industry are so important. Students study here to learn about the industry. They want to develop their respective craft and find a fulfilling career when they graduate. We want to ensure that students develop a strong foundation from which to build their future careers.

I want students and alumni to know that I’m approachable and that my door is always open. I plan to be present at community and student-driven events. Providing more opportunities for students and alumni to interact, and opening the doors for mentorship opportunities are equally important. I look forward to seeing all that we can accomplish together.

After coming to campus, what do you think distinguishes SFUAD?

Our faculty are working artists with incredible talent and drive who offer inspiration for our students. This, coupled with the professional experiences we give students both on campus and off translates into a creative and vibrant energy that complements our classroom learning environment. Our location in Santa Fe is also an unparalleled creative community that offers so much inspiration, professional development, and hands-on experience opportunities for our young artists.