A Message to the SACI Community | SACI College of Art & Design Florence

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A Message to the SACI Community

A Message to the SACI Community

Update - 4/16/2021

Dear SACI Community,

We are responding to repeated concerns that have been expressed about SACI’s decision to cancel Fall Term 2021. This decision was not taken lightly and was made after much research, market intel., discussion, and debate. The Board’s analysis of the available data showed that despite having some student applications, but few of which students had deposited, it would not be possible to obtain a sufficient cohort of students actually attending the Fall Term to make this viable either financially or practically.

Among the factors the Board considered in making this decision are:-

  • The continuing uncertainties relating to the pandemic e.g. the status of the pandemic in Italy and some States in the US; the inefficient roll out in Italy of the vaccine; the risk of new variants and a possible new wave in late Summer or the Fall; and possible continuing travel restrictions
  • Our research indicated that following remote teaching over the last year or so, US colleges would most likely, and for a number of considerations, wish to keep their students on campus rather than sending them on study abroad programs.
  • For the reason above and a variety of other reasons including safety concerns, study abroad programs would not get back to anything like normal until Spring 2022 at the very earliest.
  • A number of US colleges had already suspended or cancelled their study abroad programs for the Fall and many study abroad offices at US colleges remained closed.
  • To have continued with the preparation for the Fall Term would have meant incurring further expenditure which, in turn, without a sufficient cohort of students, would have irresponsibly increased pressure on SACI’s already limited financial resources.
  • It was felt important to make this decision early to avoid further expenditure and also to allow those students who had applied and particularly those who had deposited to make alternative plans.

Accordingly, it was considered in the best interest of the School to cancel the Fall Term. The President and the Board believe that this decision continues to be in the interest of SACI, and is in line with what is being seen in the education sector with many colleges suspending or cancelling their Fall Term study abroad programs, including one of SACI’s largest feeder schools.

SACI Board and President

 


 

Update - 4/13/2021

Dear SACI Community:

We want to acknowledge once again the overwhelming support and concern that has been expressed for our beloved SACI.

You may be interested to know that when the first impact of the pandemic hit Italy, the school administration and management worked even harder to manage the school resources and navigate a path forward. Not knowing that one year later our world would still be in turmoil, and with no students being safely able to travel to Florence, the impact on the financial security of the college cannot be underestimated.

Just as an example of some of the steps we have been taking to manage and maximize our resources, we:-

  • created and promoted remote teaching courses for SACI students and faculty
  • secured the refinancing of our bank loans and buildings
  • obtained a suspension of capital payments of our mortgages
  • applied for and received PPP loans in the US
  • have taken advantage of the furlough support available and reduced our US office costs
  • settled complex litigation going back as far as 2006 to increase SACI’s cash resources
  • explored and are continuing to explore ways we can collaborate and obtain support from our partner schools in the US and in Florence
  • explored and are continuing to explore how best we might achieve philanthropic support in all the circumstances
  • approached the American Consulate in Florence to provide ongoing support for American Universities including SACI
  • consulted with another institution in Florence to provide consultation on how best to apply EU Recovery Funds for educational institutions in Florence

We successfully managed to continue all our courses remotely when over a hundred students had to return to the US in Spring last year (in the middle of the semester) and each and every student finished their courses and completed all their study credits.

From March 2020 in Italy, we worked closely with our consultants to obtain all the government support we could to make sure our Florence staff and faculty continue to receive the full financial support and government relief that was available.

More recently we have been working to explore ways to share recruitment strategies with other institutions for Spring 2022 to further expand possibilities for our staff and faculty should we not have a sufficient number of student enrolment.

Eight months ago we began trying to sell at least one of our properties in the hope to secure around 4 million euros to pay down some of our debt and to ensure we have sufficient funding to continue our operations. So far in the face of well known market and marketing difficulties, those efforts have not succeeded but are continuing.

As a not-for-profit institution, no one, apart from the School, benefits from any surplus the School makes or receives any financial remuneration upon any sale related to the sale of the School’s assets. Moreover, all board members give of their efforts and time on a purely voluntary basis.

The Board continues, with the help of its consultants, to seek solutions to resolve the crisis resulting from the pandemic which has not just affected SACI but also so many other institutions.

Again, we'd like to thank our community for the continued support and concern for the future of SACI. Collaborations for possible additional fundraising efforts are being explored with alumni/community representatives.

SACI Board and President

 


 

Dear SACI Community:

So many of you have kindly expressed your concern for SACI, our Faculty, and the Staff in Florence and in the United States who work together for the success of our study abroad program. We want to say how much we appreciate hearing of your positive learning experiences, your concerns and your heartfelt offer to help #savesaci. It is a testament to how much SACI has had a meaningful, often life changing, impact on you.  

Recently there has been a considerable amount of misinformation being shared and published about SACI. It is understandable with so much concern. However, we would like to do whatever we can to avoid any further harm to our reputation until we fully understand what will happen to SACI. That our beloved institution is in jeopardy of survival is not in doubt, and we would not want to hide this fact. We want to assure you that the moment the pandemic hit, the Board and Senior Administration have been working tirelessly to carefully manage our resources and find every possible way to try get through the enormous challenges we face. Some very difficult choices have had to be made and continue to need to be made, including the sale of at least one of our properties which is not easily achieved in the current climate. We are, as you know, a small institution, albeit a very proud one, and having you rallying around us is gratifying and very much appreciated.

Needless to say, this global pandemic has been devastating, not just to SACI but many educational institutions who find themselves in a similar position. We have been adversely impacted by the complete halt of education abroad for over a year. The very difficult decision was made to cancel the Fall 2021 program and although it may have seemed premature to cancel, it has become increasingly clear there won’t be a sufficient number of students coming to Florence in the Fall. While there has been wonderful progress in the United States with its vaccination program, our partner institutions are all still in the process of stabilizing their own campuses through the Fall and many of them have informed us that they have cancelled their Fall study abroad programs including some of the mainstay institutions who typically send students to SACI. As you may know, Italy just had another national lockdown due to rising Covid cases and their vaccination program here, and throughout Europe, has been severely delayed.

We understand that this letter may not answer all your questions, but many options are being explored to try and help alleviate our situation. As soon as any major decisions are made, we will notify all of you who are part of the SACI community.

Thank you and please all stay safe and well.

SACI Board and President


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