Within the curricular context of an excellent professional design education, we provide a vital school-wide design culture and educational environment grounded in critical design thinking, multidisciplinary collaborations and civic engagement.
We are a professional design school providing excellence in teaching, research and
service within a vibrant intellectual community that generates an energy and passion
for great design, while nurturing the talent, intellectual agility, optimism and resourcefulness
our students need to develop into the leaders in their respective design disciplines
and in their communities.
Land Acknowledgment Statement
The Indigenous history of the land the University of Arkansas campus sits on goes
back to time immemorial, and across that expanse of time, many successive groups have
lived here and created sacred legacies in this area. The Fay Jones School of Architecture
and Design acknowledges Indigenous peoples were forced to leave their ancestral lands,
including the Osage, Caddo and Quapaw Nations with ties to Northwest Arkansas. We
further recognize that a portion of the Trail of Tears runs through our campus, and
that the Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), Chickasaw and Seminole Nations passed
through what is now Arkansas during this forced removal. We acknowledge all Indigenous
teachers, researchers and all other residents in our community and region today. We
seek continuity and connection to the past as we look to the future with increased
collaboration with Indigenous governments and entities. We say to the Citizens of
Indigenous Nations: We see you and we thank you.
A Statement From Southeastern Conference Deans of Architecture, Design and Construction
Insight Into Diversity Journal / October 2020 Issue
Juneteenth 2020: A Statement of Purpose / June 19, 2020
As the academic and administrative leaders of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, we acknowledge the pain, disappointment and frustration expressed in the #BlackatUARK messages posted on Twitter. To be clear to all in the Fay Jones School community and beyond: Black lives matter. Your lives matter. Your messages matter.
Though the messages have been clear, we haven’t listened enough to the truth and realities of racism. Progress made in architecture and design education – and in the professions – hasn’t been made fast enough or broadly enough. As a school, and as a larger community, of architecture, landscape architecture and interior design, with the stated purpose of designing a better world, we must take responsibility through honest assessment and renewed commitments.
We commit to progress that has an equitable impact for everyone in the Fay Jones School community. And we commit to expanding our efforts in our larger community to bring accelerated and lasting change.
We commit to taking the time to reflect and assess, to better understand our own history, to learn from our failures and to identify what needs to be done on our journey forward.
We need to hear and understand your experiences and your ideas for meaningful change, so we can work together to design and construct a better future.
In the coming weeks, the Fay Jones School will host open forums to cultivate listening and discussion, and to encourage and foster empathy.
The leadership commits to a schoolwide self-examination of intercultural competence, to creating intergenerational frameworks for awareness and response, and to building structures for lasting progress in student recruitment and enrollment, faculty and staff diversity, and curricular character and depth.
We are guided by the statements and directives of our campus leadership, but as importantly, by the solidarity of our collateral organizations in design education and the design professions, in their opposition to racism and their commitments to change.
Today, we join in celebrations of Juneteenth. We recognize our alumni, our students and our “pioneers of progress” who are integral to our identity, and celebrate their presence in the life of the school and in our society.
The Fay Jones School Deans, Department Heads and Administrative Staff
Dean's Message / June 15, 2020
From 1946 to 1951, as this school’s first students in architecture were arriving, studying and graduating, the American author Ralph Ellison was working through the manuscript of his epic novel, Invisible Man.
Invisible Man is essential reading at any point in an education, but it holds particular significance in these days of tragedy, violence, self-examination and searches for racial justice.
In writing of his own search for identity as an African American, Ellison writes, “Some things are just too unjust for words, and too ambiguous for either speech or ideas.“
And yet, he continues to write, with commitment, with a profound sense of the historical challenge, and a prescient view of the future:
“The trouble is that there is little the dead can do; otherwise they wouldn’t be the dead. No! But on the other hand, it would be a great mistake to assume that the dead are absolutely powerless. They are powerless only to give the full answer to the new questions posed for the living by history. But they try! Whenever they hear the imperious cries of the people in a crisis, the dead respond. Right now in this country, with its many national groups, all the old heroes are being called back to life … and countless others are being asked to step once again upon the stage of history. I can’t say too emphatically that we stand at a terminal point in history, at a moment of supreme world crisis. Destruction lies ahead unless things are changed. And things must be changed. And changed by the people.”
Today, I write as dean of a school of architecture and design which graduated its first African American student – our distinguished alumnus Wali Caradine – in 1974, 24 years after our first graduating class.
Today, I write with empathy, but equally and more importantly, with a deep sense of what I do not know, of what I can never know, as a person born into privilege – but with a belief in the power of education for us all.
I know only a few things in these circumstances: despite injustice, we must find both the words and the actions; despite ambiguity, we must find the words, the ideas and the actions; despite the previous histories, things must be changed.
I have spoken with our academic leadership in the school, and with my colleague deans – and we are in a searching campus discussion, begun last Friday, to begin this work.
As a school, we will have further discussions – and plans for action – internally…and we look forward to this coming Friday, Juneteenth, as a day to affirm commitments for the future.
As a university, Chancellor Steinmetz has already provided several statements committing us to that future; to his words, the collected deans of the schools and colleges add this statement:
A Statement by the Deans of the University of Arkansas on Our Unfinished Journey toward Racial Justice / June 15, 2020
The terrible death of George Floyd (and so many others) reminds us, once again, of our nation, our state, and our university’s unfinished journey toward racial justice. As deans of the colleges of the University of Arkansas, we mourn this tragic loss and recommit ourselves to creating a community where all people are safe and valued. Racial violence and the attitudes that drive it have no place in our communities or on our campus. We are particularly conscious of our state’s history of lynching and Jim Crow laws and of the University of Arkansas’ history as a segregated school that does not yet look like the state it serves – that has work to do.
As tensions remain high and protests, some peaceful and some not, continue across the country, we call upon members of the University of Arkansas community to not look away from what we are seeing and what we must learn in this moment. We deplore all acts of violence, but we also recognize that we are being given an opportunity to address old and ongoing wrongs. We ask our faculty, students, and staff to recommit themselves to addressing our unfinished business of realizing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s beloved community whose members are not “judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Today, our community is dispersed by a pandemic, but we ask its members to join together in spirit and resolve to remaking our campus and the nation through the hard and uncomfortable work of examining our failures to realize our goal of rich diversity, true equity, and seamless inclusion. This work was to be one of the university’s major goals in the coming year, but now it must come to the fore.
We commit ourselves both to leading this work and to making ourselves available to hear the hard truths that need to be spoken and to lifting them up so that they are not forgotten. We ask you to join us in dreaming of and building a new more welcoming, just, and safe University of Arkansas.
Thank you for your good work, for your empathy, and your commitment. There is work to be done.
Deans' Summer Message / May 28, 2020
Greetings from Fayetteville and the School, as we continue to navigate through the circumstances of the pandemic, in the wake of graduation and the conclusion of the spring semester, as we enter more fully into the summer months, and as we look ahead into the fall semester (at least) of the 2020-21 academic year. We write first and foremost with the hope that you, your families and your friends, are well and healthy. We’ve appreciated so much hearing from students, faculty and staff, as well as from alumni and friends, regarding their current well-being, activities and outlooks. Please continue to be in contact with all of us at the School: at the least, we believe we can be a source of stability for our community, and hopefully a source of continuing vitality and encouragement for your work and lives.
This “Deans’ Summer Message” to the School community intends to precede a message to the University community from Chancellor Steinmetz, scheduled for next week, one which will provide us all with both the strategy and the tactics that the University has developed for the fall 2020 semester and the 2020-21 academic year. In this letter, we’ll make several announcements regarding Spring 2020 Commencement; our Design Camp, summer sessions and coursework; new School staff and faculty; our contingency planning for our 2020-21 budget; progress towards the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation; and an overview of our own developing plan for teaching and learning again in Vol Walker Hall and the Steven L. Anderson Design Center in the fall. Yes, this is a lot to share and a lot to absorb…but we’ll appreciate your attention and consideration now, ahead of much more to come from the Chancellor’s Office.
CONGRATULATIONS 2020 GRADUATES!
On May 9, we held a virtual Commencement ceremony in Shollmier Auditorium at the School, with the deans, department heads and several staff members in attendance, and over 250 of our community linked in via the School’s YouTube channel. We announced honors and awards given to members of the graduating class, and recognized 72 graduates overall, across the three departments, and including the very first two graduates of the School’s newly launched Master of Design Studies post-professional degree. The recorded event is available online.
Dean MacKeith’s brief remarks to the School’s graduates were laudatory:
Congratulations to the 2020 graduates in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design! Since your arrival in the School, we’ve advocated to you the transformative role that design can have in a complex, challenging world. We now know that role is an ever more environmentally responsible role, a definite public health role – and an emphatic public service role. You’ve prepared for these roles through the rigors of design studios, seminars, lectures and workshops – you’re prepared to move forward and assist in building a better world. You graduate in an exceptional moment, and we so admire your perseverance and your commitment to achieving your degree. We are grateful for our time with you and we are grateful to your parents, families and friends for their support of you throughout these past years. We wish you well now and in the future, and will always be here to assist you. Congratulations!
Although taking proper caution as we confront COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of all university-sponsored summer camps, we were committed to using our resources to reinvent our Summer Design Camp, which for the past 10 years has offered students aged 8-18 the opportunity to learn about the design professions through hands-on projects, tours, presentations, and discussions. Under the leadership of our Director of Community Education, Teaching Assistant Professor Alison Turner, our Summer Design Camp has been rethought for delivery in an exciting virtual format.
The virtual camp will offer programs that mirror proven face-to-face learning experiences, with content developed to appeal to all K-12 students as well as programs tailored for grades 3-6, advanced students, and college preparation. Using video and digital formats, and working collaboratively with Arkansas PBS (AETN), as well as mounting programs on our School’s YouTube channel, we will offer participants an array of learning opportunities including project workshops, spotlight videos on Arkansas architects, virtual tours of design in Arkansas, virtual visits to Arkansas design firms, and, of especial importance, informational videos about the Fay Jones School.
Most important, we will be able to reach a significant number of students throughout the state of Arkansas. The pandemic might have forced our hand, but we see this as a pilot program for expanded design education for the community, region and state. Our Summer Design Camp programming will start in June. Stay tuned!
We are pleased to announce that the generous support of the Alice L. Walton Foundation makes it possible for us to nurture the next generation of designers with this innovative platform for learning and appreciating the power of Arkansas design and designers.
Following the University’s mandate to move all summer school classes to online delivery, just as it did in the last weeks of the spring semester, the beat of design goes on, albeit remotely, in learning experiences across the Fay Jones School.
Through distance delivery, our first-year summer cohorts of architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture students will undertake their intensive foundation studio. We are indebted to the faculty teams whose creativity and innovation have contributed to the development of a vital online pedagogy. Associate Professor Laura Terry will coordinate the architecture studios, working with Teaching Assistant Professor Lynn Fitzpatrick, Teaching Assistant Professor Chuck Rotolo, and Lecturer Rachel Smith-Loerts; Assistant Professor Torrey Tracey will offer the interior design studio; and the landscape architecture studios will be led by Visiting Lecturer Phillip Zawarus of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Associate Professor Gabriel Diaz Montemayor. Professor Montemayor also will teach the companion Design Thinking I and II courses.
Similarly, we have been compelled to convert our summer study Latin America Urban Studio in Mexico to an online experience for students who were depending upon this opportunity to complete graduation requirements in a timely fashion. Led by Teaching Assistant Professor Russell Rudzinski, a seasoned leader of the Latin American study abroad program, the studio will consider the question of “The New World City.” The course will provoke reflection on the history of utopian urban experiments that have defined the physiognomy of Mexican urban space from Pre-Columbian cultures to today and speculate on alternative urban paradigms for the contemporary city. The studio will engage regular, virtual participation of Mexican architects, critics and educators, including Victor Alcerreca and Fernando Vasconcelos.
SUMMER ORIENTATION/NEW FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS
This week marks the beginning of New Student Orientation for our fall 2020 incoming class and the first days that we officially welcome new students to our Fay Jones community! This is also the very first time that we are conducting orientation in a virtual format. After observing how well our faculty adjusted to the virtual classroom, our extraordinary student success team was confident that they, too, could continue to provide each new student with the same care that we had been doing for so many years. Special thanks are due our academic advisors, Sheri Lynn Brown and Theresa Parrish, for their dedication to this effort.
With welcomes from Dean MacKeith and the department heads, students are provided with an incredible overview of our programs and a 30-minute session with one of our professional academic advisors. Check out our videos linked from our website.
Student Success Director Melinda Smith also points out that we are poised to welcome a very geographically diverse and enthusiastic incoming class. Of special note: for the first time in our school’s history, our first-year enrollment will exceed 200 students!
NEW SCHOOL STAFF
Please join us in welcoming to the School staff two new members of the Dean’s Office team: Rachel Fletcher, recruitment and admissions coordinator, and Doug Walsh, director of finances.
A native of Oklahoma, well acquainted with Northwest Arkansas, Rachel joined us in April from a previous position at Fort Lewis College in Colorado. She will work with Melinda Smith, Sheri Lynn Brown, Theresa Parrish, and Michelle Pribbernow in the School’s Student Services area. Rachel’s email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
A University of Arkansas graduate (B.S./M.S. in Agriculture and MBA-Walton College), Doug Walsh joined us May 11 from a previous position at the UA Jean Tyson Child Development Study Center. Doug will work closely with the deans, the department heads, and the center directors in shaping, managing and overseeing the School’s finances, with an expanded dimension now of strategic planning for our resources. Doug’s email is: email@example.com
As well, everyone should know that the School now has an in-house liaison to UA Human Resources, Leslie Pounds. A shared appointment with UAHR, Leslie works with the Dean’s Office and across the School each day of the week, assisting administrators, staff and faculty with HR issues of all kinds. Leslie is your first point of contact with UAHR – on any issue – and an important addition to the School’s overall management. Leslie’s email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW SCHOOL FACULTY
The conclusion of the academic year also brings announcement of two new faculty members, who will begin as full-time, tenure track faculty in August: Dr. Jisun Lee and Charles Sharpless, AIA, both of whom have accepted positions as Assistant Professors of Interior Design. Brief biographies follow below this paragraph. Fall 2020 will also see the return of Visiting Assistant Professor Jim Coffman and Visiting Associate Professor Patty Folan, both in Landscape Architecture. Further appointments of new Visiting Assistant Professors will be made over the summer in both Architecture and Interior Design. With substantial support from the Provost, and support from the College of Engineering, we are able to seek and appoint a Visiting Professor in Timber and Wood Design for the academic year 2020-21, a distinguished visitor who will teach at the advanced design studio level.
Having just completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Cornell University’s Department of Design and Environmental Analysis and bringing significant professional practice in retail and hospitality design in Seoul, Korea, Dr. Lee’s dossier establishes her as a uniquely promising “fit” for our program. At Yonsei University in Seoul, Dr. Lee earned a B.S. in Housing and Interior Design, a M.S. in Design Management, and a Ph.D. in Interior Architecture; her previous teaching experience includes positions at Seoul University, Gimpo University, and Konkuk University, all in South Korea. Her research focuses on the emerging area of immersive visual environments as a means of studying the effects of the built environment on human behavior, with recent publications exploring older adult care facilities. Please join us in offering a warm welcome to Dr. Lee.
As a former project designer at the UA Community Design Center and Teaching Assistant Professor in architecture, Charles Sharpless already is a well-known member of the Fay Jones School community. A licensed architect, Mr. Sharpless received a B.Arch. from Rice University and earned an M.Arch. from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. His portfolio of professional practice includes positions with Michael Maltzan Architecture, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects and Machado Silvetti. Currently, he is a partner in Somewhere Studio, LLC., a practice he shares with his partner, Assistant Professor Jessica Colangelo. Recently, Somewhere Studio has earned honors from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Interior Design, and NYCxDesign Awards for their Salvage Swings Pavilion. Their work has been covered in Arquine, Architectural Record, Interior Design Magazine, Azure Magazine, and ArchDaily. Please extend congratulations to Mr. Sharpless on his new role at the school.
2020-21 SCHOOL BUDGET PLANNING (CONTINGENCY)
As we all know, the pandemic has had real effect upon the national and state economies, with unemployment in the state now approaching 200,000 citizens, and compelling a reformation of the state’s revenue and budget projections for the coming fiscal year. In these circumstances, no matter the strength and stability of its resources, the University is not immune from financial effects. However, one aspect of University employment is clear: all faculty and staff remain employed, and everyone’s current position and level of compensation is stable, and will remain stable for the coming fiscal year. The value of this stability cannot be overstated. In this regard, we will say further that the current circumstances and our continued employment only places our obligations as a school of architecture and design in a land-grant, public university in even greater relief: How can we be of greatest service and benefit to the citizens of the state, as well as to our students?
Based upon state projections, and the legislature’s passage of the reduced budget submitted by Governor Hutchinson, the University’s Board of Trustees last week approved reduced budgets for all campuses in the UA system, beginning July 1. All schools and colleges on this campus, as well as the university’s central operations areas, were requested to compile a contingency plan for the coming fiscal year, operating on a reduction of 12% of state funds in each case. Earlier in the spring, I sent everyone a letter co-signed by the deans of the University outlining the agreed-upon approaches to any budgetary contingency planning. Using those guidelines, we have determined our School’s contingency plan for the requested 12% reduction of state funds to us – a sum of $280,000 in our case. We will accomplish this through three principle reduction tactics: 1) a deferral by one year of the planned refreshment of one-third of our student worktable display monitors (total $115,000); 2) a one-year reduction of Dean’s Office expenditures in public programs, special events, publications, hospitality and travel (total $90,000); and 3) a one-year reduction of approximately 10% from each of the School’s departments’, centers’ and operations areas’ annual budgets (total $75,000). Bear in mind that for each of the last six years, each individual budget in the School has had a contingency line-item withholding of 6.5% of their annual operating budget – we have been preparing for this day for these six years, in this way.
This overall withholding of $280,000 is a contingency withholding. We will hold this in reserve, as part of the total university contingency reserves, and the University will monitor the fortunes of the state revenue and budget projections each quarter, and assess the consequences of those projections for the university, in order to determine if this reserve is necessary to withhold for the duration of the fiscal year. We will begin our fiscal year employing this reduced fiscal position, and will remain in a static budget on this basis.
ANTHONY TIMBERLANDS CENTER PROGRESS
Since the completion of the Design Competition for the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Material Innovation in February, on the recommendations of the project building committee, the Board of Trustees has selected Grafton Architects in partnership with modus studio as the design team and Nabholz as the general contractor. A thorough Competition Report is available online and includes the competition brief, each of the six submissions, analysis by the external evaluation team, and their recommendation. Progress continues to be made in securing the services of the architectural and construction teams, with contract negotiations well underway, and pre-design and programming phases are expected to begin with the start of classes in the fall.
FALL 2020 PLANNING
Together with our colleagues across campus, the Fay Jones School leadership team is fully engaged in planning for the start of the new academic year. We have provided advice to the Provost and Chancellor as to how to address teaching and learning and school operations in the current circumstances, and we now await further direction from University leadership regarding how – in what mode – we will address the teaching and learning mission. As you know, the Chancellor will be communicating the general outlines of this collective planning effort next week.
Even in the midst of ever-changeful scenario planning, one thing is certain: We are dedicated to assuring that our students, faculty, and staff are provided with the ways, means, and environment to do their best work safely, in good health, and with the ability to make choices. We must be agile as we plan, but there are a few things that we can share now:
Every academic unit on campus has been directed to plan for three possible modes of teaching, learning and operations: in-person/on-campus, on-line/remote, and a hybrid of the two. Providing in-person/on-campus course delivery under current directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Health will affect how we use our facilities and how we structure our interactions with each other. What does that mean? We will be compelled to reduce the number of students allowed in individual classrooms and studios to satisfy maximum social distanced occupancy. That might result in changes in the schedule of classes; it might create hybrid means of delivery of course content involving both face-to-face and remote learning; and it will certainly demand new ways of occupying space in Vol Walker Hall. Again, our next steps will be determined by University protocols, but, in the meantime, we are carefully examining alternatives for teaching and learning specific to our unique requirements for the design professions.
At the same time, understanding how we manage space in a Vol Walker Hall prepared for social distancing and effecting the changes that might be required to achieve that end presents a series of design problems that demand equal attention. To ensure everyone’s health and safety will involve creating guidelines for how we move through our building, for how we occupy our fabrication labs and print shop, how we communicate in our offices and public spaces, and how we keep our environment one that complies with the best practices articulated by the Arkansas Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
Most important, as we consider what the new academic year might bring, we cannot say too often that you, our students, our staff, and our faculty, are our main concerns. While there are overarching plans to be made, be assured that we also are preparing to provide accommodations for anyone in our community who cannot return or who has reservations about returning to campus in fall.
These are challenging times with difficult decisions to be made, but we assure you that we will keep open and transparent lines of communication in this regard and all others through the summer months, especially as we follow-up on the Chancellor’s directives in the near future.
In the spirit of the times – in response to the times – we offer a final two words of encouragement, both extending from the ideals and ambitions of the educational mission to which we are all committed: civility and empathy. We encourage everyone in the School community to recognize the need – perhaps now more than ever – for what we believe to be a fundamental sense of civility: for speaking with courtesy and mutual respect for each other, for being proactive in asking how we can be of assistance to each other and to the School, and for understanding the obligation we have to the public welfare. We encourage everyone in the School community to recognize the need – perhaps now more than ever – for what we believe to be a fundamental sense of empathy: the capacity to identify with your colleagues’ stresses and challenges, the ability to demonstrate compassion for each other. In the spirit of these encouragements, we wish you well as the summer months begin fully, and look forward to our continuing work together.
Special Message on the Transition / April 6, 2020
Vol Walker Hall is temporarily quiet today, but know that your voices and presences resound still in the studios and classrooms. You are missed, even as we meet you virtually via Zoom, MS Teams and Blackboard.
We write today with a simple message, one of resilience and optimism: hold steady and trust in the power of the design education to which you are committed. Alvar Aalto once said that “Hope is the patron saint of architecture,” and we ask you to stand with us in that outlook and in that spirit.
For some time now, we have been proposing to you in both evident and implicit ways that the Fay Jones School is more than the sum of its disciplines and outreach centers, more than the sum of its alumni, faculty, students and staff, more than the sum of its public programs and events, more than the sum of our facilities and workspaces and classrooms.
We surpass those dimensions qualitatively, atmospherically, experientially; the proposal we make here and now is that we are a community of common purpose and ambition: to make a better world through design. We are...more than a school, to each other and in the world.
This may seem challenging in the current moment - and yet when has that common purpose ever been more necessary in your lives, and more necessary on behalf of those you love, care for and value?
So: hold steady now, stay committed, be of good cheer to each other, and continue to arrive to “the school” each day, knowing how much we value each of you in this community of common purpose.
We will send more practical missives throughout this week and in the weeks ahead. But for today, this is enough. Thank you for your continued good work and good spirit.