Biography of Paula Wallace

Paula Wallace is the president and founder of the Savannah College of Art and Design, an accredited, nonprofit, degree-granting university established in 1978. Today SCAD is the largest, most comprehensive nonprofit arts university in the nation, awarding degrees in more than 40 areas of study. Before her appointment as president in 2000, Wallace served as vice president, academic dean and provost of SCAD.

During her tenure as president, the university has expanded to include: SCAD Atlanta, SCAD Hong Kong, SCAD Lacoste and SCAD eLearning.

As a senior administrator at SCAD, Paula Wallace has initiated many of the university's most innovative academic outreach programs and signature events, including Art Educators' Forum, the Rising Star pre-college program, Summer Seminars, shopSCAD, Working Class Studio, the Sidewalk Arts Festival, SCAD Style, deFINE ART, and the annual SCAD Fashion Show, featuring student work and honoring legendary designers with the André Leon Talley award. She also oversees the SCAD Museum of Art, which recently won top honors from the International Interior Design Association and the Congress for New Urbanism.

Wallace founded the Savannah Film Festival, the longest running university film festival in the country. This annual event attracts an audience of more than 40,000 people and features an independent film competition, screenings of new major films, and lectures by some of the world's most well-known actors and filmmakers — Michael Douglas, Sir Ian McKellen, Lily Tomlin, Sydney Pollack and Oliver Stone, among many others.

Wallace has advanced the SCAD legacy of historic preservation and the university's commitment to renewing urban landscapes through an impressive series of restoration projects in the medieval village of Lacoste, in Midtown Atlanta, in Savannah's historic center, and in the Sham Shui Po district of Hong Kong. Major adaptations include a 19th-century synagogue, an abandoned turn-of-the-century hospital, several historic public school buildings, a Queen Anne mansion, an antebellum railroad depot and a midcentury Chinese magistracy building, each transformed into thriving homes for SCAD academic programs. Wallace's commitment to the building arts has earned SCAD awards from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the American Society of Interior Designers, UNESCO and the American Institute of Architects, among others.

Wallace has also authored children's and interior design books, including "A House in the South" (Random House), co-authored with Frances Schultz and "Perfect Porches" (Random House).

Wallace earned a B.A. degree from Furman University, and M.Ed. and Ed.S. degrees from Georgia State University. When not leading SCAD, Wallace spends time with her husband, Glenn, and her four children: Marisa, John Paul, Madison and Trace.

Paula Wallace is president and co-founder of the Savannah College of Art and Design

Paula Wallace

President and founder of the Savannah College of Art and Design



Paula Wallace's accolades, honors and memberships include:

  • Recipient of the Sustainability Award from Fashion Group International
  • Named International Art Adviser by Chinese Red Sandalwood Museum in Beijing, China
  • Recipient of the inaugural Elle Décor Vision Award from Elle Décor magazine
  • Appointed Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the Conseiller Culturel and Consul Général of the French Embassy in the United States of America
  • Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA, Great Britain)
  • Member of the National Advisory Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, D.C.)
  • Member of ArtTable (New York)
  • Named "Entrepreneur of the Year" by Ernst & Young (Southeastern United States)
  • Recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Georgia State University College of Education
  • Appointed by the Georgia Governor to serve on the Georgia Film, Video and Music Advisory Commission
  • Named an "Outstanding Georgia Citizen" by the Georgia Secretary of State
  • Named to the Savannah Business Hall of Fame
  • Recipient of the Monarch Award from the Lions Club of Savannah
  • Awarded the W.W. Law Legacy Award, recognizing extraordinary philanthropic service in urban communities
  • Named an Honorary Doctor of Laws by Gonzaga University

Under Paula Wallace's administration, the university has received numerous accolades and recognitions:

  • The "Hottest for Studying Art" among "America's 25 Hottest Colleges" — Kaplan/Newsweek
  • One of "America's Best Colleges" — U.S. News and World Report
  • One of "America's Best Graduate Schools" — U.S. News and World Report
  • One of "25 cutting-edge schools with an eye toward the future" — Kaplan/Newsweek
  • One of "America's Best Colleges for Entrepreneurs" — Forbes Small Business magazine
  • Number one rankings from Design Intelligence

Follow the president

On Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin