sfai news

July 06, 2010

SFAI Board of Trustees Appoints Roy Eisenhardt Interim President

The San Francisco Art Institute’s Board of Trustees has appointed Roy Eisenhardt as SFAI’s interim president. Eisenhardt will assume the office on July 12, 2010 and is expected to serve for one year, during which time SFAI’s Board of Trustees, together with Eisenhardt, will shape the school’s strategic direction and engage in a search for a permanent president. Eisenhardt succeeds Chris Bratton, who has assumed a dual position at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Eisenhardt graduated from Dartmouth College in 1960, took a law degree from the UC Berkeley School of Law in 1965, and studied law in Germany for a year before joining the San Francisco law firm Farella, Braun & Martel. By the mid-70s, his preference for legal theory over practice took him back to Berkeley Law where he taught for a number of years before entering the national spotlight, in 1980, as President of Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s.

During his tenure with the A’s, Eisenhardt presided over one of that team’s most comprehensive turnarounds. Throughout the 1979 season, the team managed to sell only around 370,000 tickets. By the mid-80s, and due in large part to an inventive marketing and publicity program whose development he oversaw, the A’s were regularly drawing over 2 million fans. He instituted a new management structure, brought about significant hirings, and built an organizational culture that placed strong emphasis on the fan experience. At the same time and oriented toward creating a strong and sustainable future, the A’s built, under his direction, an unparalleled player-development (“farm”) system for the cultivation of young talent slated eventually to join the major-league team. He served as A’s president until 1987. Eisenhardt was the subject of a profile, primarily covering his accomplishments with the A’s, in The New Yorker by Roger Angell.

In 1989, Eisenhardt became the executive director of the California Academy of Sciences, where he initiated new management systems and programs that would become the foundation for building the masterpiece in sustainable architecture that is the current academy in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Boards on which he has served, both at for- and nonprofit organizations, include the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the Presidio Council, the Ansel Adams Center for Photography (Friends of Photography), California Pacific Medical Center, and the Swig Company.

Eisenhardt has also served as a longstanding interviewer for San Francisco’s City Arts and Lectures program at Herbst Auditorium. Among the many persons he has interviewed are Maya Lin, Desmond Tutu, Oliver Sacks, Isaac Stern, Robert Hughes, and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Eisenhardt brings to SFAI a well-developed understanding of how organizations function and a proven track record in managing and leading many kinds of organizations and institutional structures toward growth, strength, and sustainability.