With the vision in mind of an art school that accepted all students, even if they didn’t have an art portfolio and a school where professional artists were the teachers, Richard S. Stephens founded the Academy of Art University in 1929. Still today, now under the leadership of Stephens’ granddaughter Elisa, the Academy of Art University is fostering innovation with a faculty of industry professionals, modern facilities, and a diverse curriculum.
Part of the curriculum focuses on car design with a vehicle restoration program. The Academy of Art University Automobile Museum, owned and operated by the academy, has in its collection of over two hundred cars, some of the most valuable and rarest cars in the world. With plans to open the museum to the public, a change was needed in the vehicle mix to appeal to a broader audience. To that end, the museum consigned seven vehicles, dubbed the ‘Art on Wheels Collection,’ to Mecum’s “The Daytime Sale” to be sold at auction between August 23 and August 25. One of the most valuable cars up for auction is a 1929 Duesenberg Model J that is expected to sell for $1 million.
In addition to academics, the academy supports an athletic department. The Urban Knights, as they’re called, a member of the NCAA Division II Pacific West Conference, compete in nine different sports. During the 2014-2015 season, The Urban Nights cross-country teams earned a record-setting ten postseason honors. Then, in the 2015 season of indoor and outdoor track and field, The Urban Knights had seven All-Americans and an NCAA Individual Champion.
With over 18,000 students and accredited degree programs in twenty-one areas of study, the Academy of Art University has become the largest accredited private art university in the nation. All the while staying true to the vision Richard S. Stephens had when he founded the school.