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The Academy of Art University, formerly Academy of Art College, is a privately owned for-profitart school in San Francisco, California, in the United States. It was founded as the Academy of Advertising Art by Richard S. Stephens in 1929. It has 283 full-time teachers and 1154 part-time teaching staff, and about 11,000 students; it claims to be the largest privately owned art and design school in the United States.
The school has open admissions and an admission acceptance rate of 100%. In 2016, its accreditor expressed concern over low graduation rates; approximately 7% of students then completed a four-year degree within the allotted time. As of 2015, the school has not published job placement rates since 2006, and disagrees with the US Department of Education over whether it is required to do so.
It was founded in 1929 as a school for advertising art. The founder, Richard S. Stephens, a painter and magazine editor, led it until 1951 when his son Richard A. Stephens took over, who 1992 was replaced by his daughter Elisa Stephens. Under her presidency, student numbers increased from around 2000 to 18,000 by 2012, but have since fallen to under 12,000. The school has been participating in the NY Fashion Week event bi-annually since 2005.
Starting in 2007, the San Francisco city planning commission held more than twenty hearings relating to possible violations of city land-use laws, including the unauthorized conversion of rent-controlled housing to academic use; in May 2016, the city brought a lawsuit against the school. In December 2016, an agreement was reached whereby the Academy agreed to pay the city $20 million in fees, $7 million of which will go to purchasing low-income housing. The school will also provide additional low-income housing for seniors as part of the deal.
As of January 2018, it is fighting a 2009 lawsuit alleging that it defrauded the federal government of student aid through illegal recruitment practices.
in 2016, approximately 7% of students completed a four-year degree within the allotted time. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 31% of students complete a four-year degree within 150% of that time (the "6-year graduation rate"). For online-only students, the 6-year graduation rate is much lower, at 6%; in mid-2015, about 35% of all students were online-only. For part-time students the 6-year graduation rate is 3%. About 58% of students are female.
In the 2014–2015 season, the men's cross country team had a second-place finish and the women's team had a record fourth-place finish, earned at the Pacific West Conference Championships. Valentin Pepiot, their third NCAA Nationals individual qualifier, was one of the top finishers from the PacWest in the postseason finale. Academy of Art earned a record 10 PacWest postseason honors. For the 2015, indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, they had seven All-Americans honors and one NCAA individual champion in Jordan Edwards.