Having just celebrated twenty-five years at the helm of Idyllwild Arts, President and Headmaster Bill Lowman announced his retirement in a Feb. 12 letter to Idyllwild Arts Foundation Board of Governors Chair Faith Raiguel.
“It is with a great sense of pride and fulfillment that I write to you and to the greater community of Idyllwild Arts, to inform you of my decision to retire as President and Headmaster effective June 30, 2011,” Lowman wrote. “It is difficult to leave the wonderful place that is Idyllwild Arts but it seems appropriate at this time in my own life; just prior to the 62nd Idyllwild Arts Summer Program and at the end of the 25th anniversary year of the Idyllwild Arts Academy.”
Raiguel said on learning of Lowman's plans, "Bill Lowman has been instrumental in Idyllwild Arts' growth for 25 years. The organization has grown and thrived under his vision, limitless energy and dedication to educating artists of all ages. His belief in creating the first boarding high school for the arts on the West Coast has allowed Idyllwild Arts to continue its reputation as a cutting edge program."
In a letter to the Idyllwild Arts community dated Feb. 19, Raiguel writes, “The excellence that is the hallmark of Idyllwild Arts, in both the Academy and the Summer Program, will be reflected in the search that the Foundation undertakes to select the next leader for the school. Employing the Head of our school and CEO of the Foundation is perhaps our greatest responsibility as a board and we have already engaged in the necessary pre-planning. We are pleased to announce that the Board has selected the firm of Educational Directions to serve as search consultants. Educational Directions are specialists in the school world, both boarding and art schools, and we are committed to a thoughtful, transparent and inclusive process that will take into consideration the views of every element of the Idyllwild Arts community. It is the board’s intention that this process is an effective, positive and strengthening experience for everyone at Idyllwild Arts.”
Educational Directions, headquartered in South Carolina, states on its web site that it conducts searches differently from other search firms: “We started the company because we disagreed with the prevailing philosophy of search firms at that time. Their philosophy was, ‘There are top, A-level candidates and they can run any school.’ From firsthand experience, we knew that wasn’t the case. Important factors such as school size, configuration, culture, specific issues, state of organizational growth, had to be considered. So from the very beginning, our company has been centered on finding leaders who fit the individual schools. On your behalf, we search for, we entice, and we discover qualified candidates for your school. We are a search firm, not a placement agency.”
Filling Lowman’s shoes will be a big job, since he and the school, its history and development over his twenty-five year tenure, are so inextricably linked. Luckily for Idyllwild and the IA community, Lowman will be in place for another year – time for a long goodbye in which Lowman’s many admirers and supporters can express their thanks for his service.