B.A., Denison University
M.A., Maxwell School of Political Science, Syracuse University
Citation awarded June, 2005
Lani Lattin began her career in arts education in the early 1970s with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as the first executive secretary of the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities, then as coordinator of a Design Education Program. Within five years, as Special Constituencies Program Coordinator, she directed the “Accessible Arts Project,” creating programs for the disabled, aging, and institutionalized.
After moving to California in 1978, she became executive director of the California Confederation of the Arts. In that post, she successfully led the lobbying efforts of 250 arts organizations and hundreds of artists to increase the state’s arts budget from less than one million in 1979 to $12.4 million three years later.
In 1981, Lani and two others were charged by the trustees of the new J. Paul Getty Trust to develop a master plan for how to responsibly spend Mr. Getty’s millions in ways that would benefit the public, art scholars and museums. From 1983-98, she directed the work of the Getty Center for Education in the Arts (later the Getty Educa¬tion Institute) to improve the quality and status of arts education in U.S. public schools and museums. When she retired, national and international arts educators praised the impact of her leadership.
The programs Lani developed were based on the theory that art, as an essential part of every child’s education, must include instruction in art production, art history, art criti¬cism, and aesthetics. This holistic “discipline-based art education” became a respected educational paradigm. By 1992 more than 30 states had adopted it, six discipline textbooks had been published, and the National Art Education Association had embraced the concept in their publications. The Getty Center also won national awards for its distinguished service.
Since leaving The Getty, Lani has served as a consultant to arts, arts education, and educational organizations involved in reform initiatives. She completed a 10-year strategic arts-education plan for the L.A. Unified School District and served as a consultant to The New York International Festival of the Arts. Later, she was recruited by the Los Angeles Times to revitalize and manage its child literacy initiative, “Reading by 9.” As director for over five years, Lani partnered with more than 60 organizations, collected over four million books for school libraries and created a five-county annual educational festival called “KidCity,” before retiring again late last year. Her efforts were rewarded with two honorary doctorates, from the Eastman School of Music and University of the Arts.
Lani is a veteran Denison volunteer, having served as a member of Alumni Council, a leadership speaker for the Organizational Studies program, and a career advisor. She also served on the 25th reunion committee for the Class of 1965.