Paula Wallace biography

Paula Wallace founded SCAD in Savannah, Georgia, in 1978. As president of SCAD, she has led the university’s expansion to locations in Atlanta and Lacoste, France, and pioneered the award-winning SCAD eLearning program. With more than 100 academic degree programs and nearly 15,000 currently enrolled students, SCAD is the preeminent source of knowledge in every discipline it teaches and has prepared more than 43,000 alumni for creative professions worldwide.

Wallace served as academic dean and provost of SCAD for 22 years before becoming president in 2000. As president, she has created and championed many of the university’s most popular annual events, including SCAD Sand Arts Festival, SCAD aTVfest, SCAD deFINE ART, SCAD FASHION, SCAD Savannah Film Festival, SCADstyle, and SCAD Sidewalk Arts Festival. Wallace also founded three teaching museums: the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film in Atlanta, and SCAD Retour en 1856 in Lacoste.

Wallace’s initiatives include the SCAD Alumni Atelier, an artist residency program for alumni; SCAD Art Sales, which connects SCAD artists with global clients; SCADFILM, which increases the knowledge and network of entertainment arts professionals; and SCADpro, the university’s in-house design consultancy that solves high-stakes design challenges with leading-edge business solutions for world-renowned companies.

Under Wallace’s leadership, SCAD has earned numerous top programmatic and institutional rankings, including:

  • No. 1 undergraduate interior design program in DesignIntelligence’s annual rankings. Since 2008, SCAD undergraduate and graduate programs have been awarded this superlative more than any other university — a total of 16 times.
  • Best Motion Graphics School in The Rookies’ “Best Creative Schools in the World” rankings for 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
  • No. 1 university in the U.S. and No. 2 university in the Americas and Europe in the 2019 Red Dot Design Rankings.
  • No. 1 university in Universities.com’s “Best Illustration Colleges” of 2018.
  • Top 10 for Costume Design Schools, Production Design Schools, and Visual Effects Schools in The Hollywood Reporter’s 2019 inaugural, unordered rankings.
  • Named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News and World Report in 2013.

Wallace also advances the university’s legacy of historic preservation. SCAD has been recognized with prestigious awards from the American Institute of Architects, American Society of Interior Designers, Art Deco Societies of America, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and UNESCO.

Wallace is the author of the memoir The Bee and the Acorn, as well as Guo Pei: Couture Beyond, the first major book on China’s leading couture visionary; SCAD: The Architecture of a University, a celebration of architectural splendor; two interior design titles, A House in the South: Old-Fashioned Graciousness for New-Fashioned Times and Perfect Porches: Designing Welcoming Spaces for Outdoor Living; and several children’s books.

Wallace is an honorary member of the AIA, a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council, a member of the Advisory Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She is a recipient of the Design Luminary Award Honoring Nancy Vincent McClelland, the Arthur Ross Award for Stewardship, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award, and a Roger Milliken Honorary AIA Legacy Award. Wallace has also been named among Blouin Artinfo’s “Power List: High-Wattage Women of the Art World” and Condé Nast’s “Daring 25.” The French Embassy of the United States of America appointed Wallace a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, the Georgia Historical Society named her a Georgia Trustee, the City of Atlanta presented her with a Phoenix Award, the City of Savannah awarded her the key to the city, and DesignIntelligence named her to its “30 Most Admired Educators.”

Wallace earned her master of education and education specialist degrees from Georgia State University and a bachelor of arts degree from Furman University. She was also awarded an honorary doctorate of law from Gonzaga University.

SCAD president Paula Wallace

Paula Wallace

President and Founder of the Savannah College of Art and Design