College of Design: a new, simplified school

The College of Design (Emerald Archives)

Students walking into Lawrence Hall will see the same halls, seats and chalkboards. What they won’t see is the newly organized inner-workings of the schools that occupy the building.

All are invited to the new College of Design’s launch party at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, in Lawrence Hall to welcome its new name and a new organizational structure.

The School of Architecture and Allied Arts was one large school with many departments, offering nearly 30 different programs. The restructure to the College of Design created a college of three smaller, more specialized schools and one independent department.

Dean of the College of Design Christoph Lindner led the restructure and said the goal was to prepare the school for the next hundred years.

“When we looked at reorganizing, we asked ourselves, ‘Who do we want to be? Where do we want to be in 50 years time, in 100 years time and then what do we need to do now to put ourselves on a course to achieving that?” he said in an interview with the Emerald.

“We are quite unique on the West Coast in our school of arts and design for how many subdisciplines we do. Before, that was all crammed into the smallest category we had — a department. And we’ve expanded that. We’ve said, ‘No, when you do that many things and you do it well, that’s called a school.’ And that’s why we had to become a college — in order to unpack these departments and let them grow into schools.”

The new schools are the School of Architecture and Environment, the School of Art and Design and the School of Planning, Public Policy, and Management. The Department of Art and Architecture remains an independent department.

The newly appointed heads of schools are Liska Chan, associate professor of landscape architecture; Laura Vandenburgh, associate professor of art; and Rich Margerum, professor of planning, public policy and management, respectively. Kate Mondloch continues on as the head of the art and architecture department.

While the shift may seem like a huge change for students in the college, administrators took care not to disturb the trajectory of students who were enrolled before the shift.

“All students will be able to complete the degrees they signed up for. So all change is for incoming and future students.” Lindner said. “We did not want to disrupt anybody’s studies or their experience or their progress.”

More than 60 offices were moved over the summer as part of the restructure. Areas with shared interests were moved together to encourage collaboration.

“We wanted them to also have physical proximity, not just academic proximity,” Lindner said.

“The one thing that we are actively encouraging is more collaboration—between everything,” Linder added. “Boundaries are there to be broken, and disciplinary boundaries are artificial constructions. They are walls. We want our students and our faculty to feel free to go where their interests take them.”

Lindner also encourages collaboration between students, administrators and faculty. Student input as an integral part of the process, he said. In order to remain connected with the interests of students, Lindner teaches two classes per year in the College of Design.

“I teach classes so that I can interact with students in a learning environment and just get a sense of the kind of work they’re interested in doing, the sort of career and professional ambitions that they have, what it’s like when professors have to use Canvas,” he said. “I want to know what it’s like in that environment.”

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