Editor's Note: This post has been updated to include a response from Dr. Elisa Stephens, president of Academy of Art University, as well as audio from a related episode of KQED's Forum.
San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, an institution that's been operating for 86 years, is the nation's biggest private art college. But only 32 percent of its full-time students graduate in six years -- compared with 59 percent for colleges nationally and as high as 90 percent for top-of-the-line art colleges like the Rhode Island School of Design.
The September issue of Forbes magazine calls out the for-profit Academy of Art in two investigative reports for having low graduation rates, nondisclosure of job placements and a student body that's burdened with debt. Forbes also discloses that the Stephens family, which owns the college, has outstanding planning code violations for 31 of 40 buildings it owns throughout the city.
In an email response to the Forbes stories, the Academy of Art University said: “We are disappointed that the reporter neglected to interview our successful students and alumni, or spend time in our classrooms. We are very proud of our instructors, our students and the caliber of arts education we provide.”
On Monday, August 24, a representative for the university sent a "formal letter of response" written by Dr. Elisa Stephens, president of Academy of Art University, to KQED. The letter is addressed to the Forbes' editors.