Meet Dr. Audra Price Pittman, VP of SCAD Atlanta

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“It’s clear I have a love of learning,” Dr. Audra Price Pittman jokes. Dr. Pittman is the vice president of one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the country, Savannah School of Art and Design (SCAD) in Atlanta. As a decorated educator with several degrees under her belt, Dr. Pittman practices what she preaches, championing learning through SCAD and beyond. It’s not uncommon for Dr. Pittman to share on social media what SCAD students are busy creating, whether it’s their latest fashion designs or their short film scripts. Beyond her day job, Dr. Pittman is an arts activist in her community and a mom to three girls. Unsurprisingly, she also held a 15-year record at her alma mater, the University of Connecticut, for the 800-meter track event. She is an example of how anything is possible through determination, whether it’s your dream job or your athletic goals. From her, we learn that dreams are absolutely achievable, and the small steps toward our goals are just as worthwhile as the big ones. Learn more about Dr. Audra Price Pittman and her secrets to success below. 

​​Tell me a little bit about your career path that lead you to VP of SCAD. 

There is so much to say! I have always had an interest in the arts. I studied Illustration at the University of Connecticut and then received my M.A.T. from Maryland Institute College of Art in Art Education. After teaching middle school for a couple of years in Baltimore, I decided to get my Ph.D. in Art Education, Arts Administration, and Art Museum Education at Florida State University. Upon graduation, I accepted a job at a small university in South Carolina, but then SCAD came calling. I was so excited because I still remember the pamphlets in my high school guidance counselors’ office that talked about SCAD. Now I had an opportunity to work there and was thrilled at the prospect. I originally chaired the Master of Arts in Teaching program at SCAD in Savannah. I started in 2008. I worked there a number of years and as life happens, I got engaged, married, and pregnant, with my husband who lived in Tallahassee, Florida. I moved to Florida and continued to teach online for SCAD. 

Once I became a mother, I took a break from full-time work. I started my own business, Suite P Studio, and got involved in the community with volunteer work. I always dreamed about going back to SCAD in some capacity, so I stayed in touch with our founder and president Paula Wallace. I took advantage of opportunities both in Savannah and Atlanta, such as festivals and museum exhibition openings. I have to say, dining with Carolina Herrera and seeing her exhibition of her life’s work at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film is one of my top life highlights.

While in Florida, I worked at a local arts agency called the Council on Culture and Arts. We worked with both the city and county governments to promote arts and culture in the Big Bend region. I worked with local arts, arts organizations, tourism, and the business communities to promote the arts and give organizations funding. It was a great chance to see the intersection of business, government, and the arts, and the impact that was made on the quality of life in a city.

One day, about three years ago, I received a message from President Wallace stating there was an opening in Atlanta. I went after it, and three years later, I am here! It’s been a whirlwind and so much fun. These students are so impressive and amazing. The talented faculty and hardworking staff bring so much to the experience. In a nutshell, that’s how I got here.

Did you always have your sights set on higher education?

I think my mother had a vision that I would be in higher ed. At one point in my career, high school teaching seemed intimidating. I should’ve known that being involved in higher ed and having some of my best memories in college and grad school would lead to this. A few factors solidified my decision to pursue higher ed. When I was a middle school art teacher, I also was coaching track at Morgan State University in Baltimore. Working with the university students brought me back to my own track days at UConn, and that’s when I realized I wanted to get more involved.

What does your day-to-day look like? What are some of your roles and responsibilities at the university?

Every day is so different, which is another reason that I love what I do. Overall, I am managing a campus of close to 3,000 students. I work with our directors in Admissions, Student Success, Academics, Facilities, Giving, SCAD Pro, Events, and more to make sure we’re all on the same page. We communicate any updates or changes that will affect another division. I work with community stakeholders like the Metro Atlanta Chamber to serve on the Innovation Advisory Committee, I also serve on the Midtown Alliance board, and so much more. My goal is to recruit amazing talent, connect with Atlanta and beyond, and find opportunities for our students to succeed in internships and future employment. 

Of course, your time at SCAD has only just begun, but what legacy do you hope to leave there long after you’re gone?

It’s more of a life philosophy, but I hope that when people think of me, they think of some kind of joy. I am a naturally silly person, but I am generally trying to find a way to make people find joy in what they are doing, whether it’s their work or the opportunities that are presented to them. I hope that I have opened more people’s eyes to the ways in which creative disciplines are the future of our world. 

Tell me about your passion for the arts both personally and in the greater Atlanta/regional community. 

I love all of the opportunities that exist within the arts. Whenever an industry is going through a transition, a new industry is emerging, and it generally has the arts behind it. I tell students, “You are studying for a career that may not even exist yet. Instagram and Facebook didn’t even exist when I was in college, and look at how that has taken over our lives.” I love what Atlanta brings, how there is this amazing mix of culture, history, music, politics, and more. Atlanta has something that most cities do not, and it all centers on creativity and the intersection of all of these industries. I love how companies like Microsoft and Airbnb are creating regional hubs here because of the diverse talent we have. I marvel at how our own SCAD Museum of Fashion and Film is about to create world-recognized exhibitions featuring the work of Guo Pei, Carolina Herrera, Albert Watson, and so much more. One of the most popular exhibits was the recent Ruth E. Carter exhibition that featured her costumes from Black Panther. That’s what Atlanta and Georgia are all about. Filming Black Panther down the road and exhibiting the work of Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter. There is so much connectivity in this region. 

What is one thing we can do to support our art communities? 

It’s important to go out, experience, celebrate, and share. I know a lot of people can be intimidated by art, but I tell people it’s like clothing. You know what colors you love; sometimes you can’t explain it, but a particular work will resonate with you because of the subject matter, the skill involved, and more. I suggest talking to people who love art, learn about it, and go to events. We have Open Studio a couple of times a year, and we feature many students who are oftentimes selling work for the first time. Sponsor events, get museum memberships, find artists, and share their work with your network. 

You are a mom to three daughters, Paloma, Phoebe, and Pilar. What is one trait of yours you hope gets passed onto each of them? 

It’s funny because they are each so unique and fun in their own way. The trait I hope they get from me is some optimism in life that everything will always be okay. They seem to have that happy-go-lucky quality now, but then again, they are elementary-aged young people. They don’t have too many life responsibilities and burdens just yet.

Your husband is an attorney, which means both of you have incredible careers for your kids to look up to. What do you hope they learn from watching your careers unfold, and more importantly, grow and change?

I am inspired by my husband and appreciate his ambition in his career every day. I learn so much from him, and he passes that hard work ethic to our girls. The one thing he consistently tells them is, “Mommy works hard, so she can have her dream job. If you work hard, too, you can make all your dreams come true.” He’s really an example of making sure you find the right partner in life. Someone who supports your ambition and makes you realize untapped potential. 

What is one great piece of advice you’ve received? 

Say yes and be open to unexpected opportunities. You always have something to learn and gain.

Tags: Education

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Written By

Nicole Letts

Nicole is an Atlanta-based journalist with work appearing in AAA, BBC Travel, Good Grit, Modern Luxury, Southern Living, and more. See Full Bio

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