Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens Named to Haute 100 List

Dr. Elisa Stephens, president of San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, has been named one of the Haute 100 most influential Bay Area residents in Haute Living magazine’s annual list of “Billionaires, Philanthropists, Power Couples, Entrepreneurs, Athletes and Tech Titans.”

Dr. Stephens, who makes a repeat appearance this year, was named a top “Commander” in the education realm in the January/February 2015 San Francisco issue, which also includes a separate “Day in the Life” profile on Stephens. She holds the distinction of being part of a very small number of female university presidents nationwide, and one of only 23 women on the Haute list. Other high profile women in the Top 100 include Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Condoleezza Rice and Sheryl Sandberg.

Haute Living has issued its Top 100 list for the past six years and Dr. Stephens has appeared four times. Since her last inclusion in 2014, Dr. Stephens has received a number of additional honors, including her recent appointment to the Smithsonian National Board and, closer to home, the “Community Hero” award from the SF Firefighters Local 798 for her invaluable contributions to the SF Firefighters Toy Program.

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Dr. Elisa Stephens. Photo by Bob Toy.

In the past year, she has expanded Academy of Art University’s accredited degree programs to a total of 28. The university now offers its first Bachelor of Science degree in Game Programming, as well as accredited degree programs in Costume Design and Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media. In addition, Dr. Stephens has kicked off a global outreach initiative, designed to attract students from all over the world.

“Haute always surprises me with its great content – from travel tips to profile stories and restaurant reviews. I’m really honored to be included on a list of such remarkable, innovative thinkers. It makes me very proud to live in the Bay Area,” she said.

A native of San Francisco, Stephens became president of Academy of Art University in 1992, the third-generation Stephens to lead the university since its founding by her grandfather in 1929. Under her leadership, Academy of Art University has become the largest accredited private university of art and design in the United States. In addition to offering undergraduate and graduate programs at its unique urban campus in downtown San Francisco, Dr. Stephens created online education programs in art and design, propelling Academy of Art University to a premier position in the digital education world. 

Dr. Stephens is a member of the Prince of Wales Foundation, Young Presidents Organization, World Presidents Organization, Vistage International, Council on Competitiveness, Committee on Jobs, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, SPUR, San Francisco City Club, Metropolitan Club, University Club, Belizean Grove, San Francisco Junior League, Nob Hill Association, Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS Foundation) and the Royal Society of Arts.