CCA Announces Its New President, David C. Howse

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A Black man smiling in formal headshot in white shirt and gray suit, no tie, round glasses
David C. Howse, the president-elect of California College of the Arts, will step into the role in December. (Nicole Loeb)

David C. Howse has been selected as the next president of California College of the Arts. Howse comes to CCA from Boston’s Emerson College, where he currently serves as the vice president of Emerson’s Office of the Arts and the executive director of ArtsEmerson.

The search for CCA’s 10th president began nine months ago, when Stephen Beale announced his retirement after 15 years in the role and 26 years at the school.

Howse, who will begin in December, joins a school in flux. Construction continues on the 78,650-square-foot expansion of CCA’s San Francisco campus, with aims to be finished in time for the fall 2024 semester. The school closed its historic and beloved Oakland campus in May, but still owns the property, where development — and an accompanying sale — have stalled due to city delays.

A rendering of an aerial view of CCA’s expanded San Francisco campus, due to open in fall 2024. (Courtesy Studio Gang and Kilograph)

In March, citing a nearly 20% drop in enrollment from pre-pandemic numbers, CCA announced layoffs to reduce expenses. Ultimately, 10 staff members were laid off, the school says, around a 4% reduction in personnel. Earlier this year, the school also announced a “pause” for its 21-year-old curatorial practice program, which will graduate its last class (for the foreseeable future) in 2024.

More broadly, the local arts ecosystem has shifted significantly in the past three years. Following the San Francisco Art Institute’s closure in 2022, and Mills College’s acquisition by Northeastern University, there are far fewer art programs for students to attend and fewer teaching opportunities for the artists who make up adjunct and full-time faculty.


Today’s announcement emphasizes Howse’s track record in fundraising: leading Emerson’s Office of the Arts’ fundraising efforts, he secured over $40 million for existing and new programs. Prior to his work at Emerson, Howse served as the executive director of Boston Children’s Chorus, where he “spearheaded a financial turnaround.”

Howse also has a personal background in the arts, graduating from Bradley University with a bachelor’s in music, and from the New England Conservatory of Music with a master of music in vocal performance.

“Becoming the president of CCA is an incredible opportunity, because it brings together my interests in and professional dedication to the arts with my passion for teaching, innovating, and engaging the community,” Howse said in today’s announcement. “It will be an honor to support and engage with faculty, staff, and students who are creating incredible and important work that not only impacts San Francisco, but the world.”