My largest professional challenge thus far has been the founding of a new school which was the 2016 merger of art, design, and merchandising units, with the addition of a new architecture program in 2017. Our innovative, department-less structure is organized around degree programs and areas of study, along with several centers/galleries/collections. In founding the school, we’ve created the key building blocks for a strong and sustainable future: governance and policy documents; staff and leadership organizational design; budget creation and financial management; facility renovation and design (two new buildings, four renovated buildings); enrollment management; development and fundraising; marketing and communication plans; human resources management; strategic planning; diversity, equity, and inclusion planning.
Mentorship and leadership development of faculty colleagues is a passion of mine. I’ve met with various individuals and groups within my school and across campus to discuss the development of new leaders, and I’ve shared the following advice:
· Get a mentor and be a mentor.
· Be a student of your own strengths and weaknesses – know thyself.
· Be proactive while thinking about the consequences of your actions.
· Be curious and observant – be a sponge.
· Ask a lot of questions instead of giving out answers.
· Be humble and confident at the same time.
· Be transparent and authentic – build trust.
· Don’t be afraid to act, but don’t act too quickly.
· Make holes in walls.
· Don’t let anyone force you into reacting/responding when you aren’t ready.
· Take a moment and a breath.
· Keep everything is perspective. Almost nothing is life or death.
· Keep a long view and don’t be short sighted.
· Value diversity in all its forms, and value the voices around you.
· Stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone.
· Expect, and enjoy, the unexpected.
· Listen, really listen.
During my twenty-five years of teaching at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio a signature of my pedagogy has been the development and/or teaching of interdisciplinary coursework. Over the years, I collaborated and taught with faculty from marketing, communications, engineering, interactive media, fine arts, music, theatre, psychology, architecture, and interior design. I was involved in the co-creation of all three of these examples.
CCA111 Innovation, Creativity & Design Thinking
This 80-person course explored the roots of original thought and its role in the evolution of different areas of human endeavor. Students explored the many facets of creativity, design, and innovation, which are purely human traits at the heart of our ability to grow, change, and adapt as individuals, and ultimately to survive as a species. The course presented scientific and scholarly ways of understanding creativity, and also engaged students in a series of exercises to experience processes through a diverse range of media and project types. Learning the roles and processes of innovation and design thinking were central to this exploration. Team work, problem-solving, and leadership skills were also addressed, and students both self-authored and collaboratively authored original concepts.
ART453 Highwire Brand Studio
Building upon the 37-year legacy of the course “Laws Hall & Associates,” Miami’s flagship interdisciplinary capstone course, the Department of Marketing and the Graphic Design program developed Highwire Brand Studio, a branding practicum that debuted in the spring semester of 2008. Highwire Brand Studio clients have included such companies as Nielsen, Procter & Gamble, Tesco supermarkets, GM Goodwrench, Hasbro, and Nestlé. Highwire Brand Studio was based on an innovative pedagogical model focusing on strategic and creative branding ideation, and involved students from all majors across the university to provide a diversity of perspectives within and across student teams. The faculty were commitment to creativity, risk-taking, decision-making and experiential learning.
IMS440 Armstrong Interactive
Armstrong Interactive (AI) was a client-based consulting experience. AI contracted with corporate and non-profit clients to develop digital solutions to their operational problems. Over the course of one semester, a team of students, from disciplines as diverse as marketing, computer science, graphic design, communication, technical writing, management, and more, worked with the client charge to develop a “live” solution to the client’s problem. This course was team taught by multi-disciplinary faculty and led by a student project manager. A condition of working with AI was that the solution had to be implemented. I team-taught the course eight times, and was involved in other projects as a design critic and mentor. The clients I worked with directly, as the professor for the course, included Taft Museum of Art, Convergys, Cintas, P&G, Bank of America, and Hulu.