School of Design coming soon to SDSU

By PAT BOWDEN Reporter

Following two years of planning and research managed by an eight-member committee made up of faculty, the South Dakota State University School of Design is scheduled to start on July 1 after it received the Board of Regents’ approval.

The school will house all design and architecture fields of study in order to increase collaboration between majors and provide a comprehensive design-oriented education in order to fulfill their new tagline: the difference is design.

The School of Design will be under the College of Arts and Sciences, and will include all design-related degrees including the Department of Architecture, the Department of Visual Arts and art education, graphic design, studio art, interior design and landscape architecture.

“[This transition] means for the academic unit is that students will have a robust collaborative design educational experience that would be difficult to achieve in individual separate individual programs,” Head of Visual Arts and future Director of the School of Design Tim Steele said. “The school concept highlights each to the design, architecture and art programs ,and significantly increases visibility.”

The School of Design will take in its first class this coming fall, while current students will stay on their current track to graduation with no changes.

“Regionally, it puts the School of Design in a premier educational position that will attract high quality faculty and the region’s best students,” Steele said. “There is not a similarly organized design school in the region.”

One major aspect that the School of Design will have for students is the intermingled exposure to different majors of design their first year, while they take more general classes and “collaborative design studies that focus on design thinking, creativity and professional exploration that creates a unique pathway” before their second year, according to Steele.

Steele said the addition of the School of Design is likely to attract more prospective students nationwide, as a core economic engine in recent years has been the design field.

“The need is evidenced by national requirements necessary to prepare students for licensure and increased competition within and beyond South Dakota for design positions,” Steele said. “The advantage for the students is that they can receive professional accredited degrees in their disciplined areas of study, which are necessary to achieve professional licensure and entry level professions in architecture and design and art fields.”

Contrasting to current or recently graduated students, the catalog for new undergraduates with these design majors will be more open and free to move around their first year, whereas current students did not have such exposure to similar majors when they were freshman and sophomores.

“I guess it’s different [from] how we’ve gone through the program, … being involved with students in other majors would be nice; it’ll give them more opportunity,” fifth year architecture graduate student Shaun Davis said. “I think students can benefit from the exposure of different arts, and might draw interest from students who don’t know about the majors.”

Daniel Bilka, another fifth year architecture graduate student, has similar views as Davis, and also believes that undergraduate students will now have more time to choose from a wide, more clear range of majors that pertain to design.

“If they like something about design, they could have more time to choose [majors] … [the school] might be inadvertently channeling students to other [design] majors,” Bilka said. “It’s good to explore all options to enhance networking throughout the department.”

Steele believes this transition into an emphasis on design majors puts SDSU at a higher level than it was before, now competing more with other design schools in the region.

“The School of Design is a great opportunity for the students and the state of South Dakota to have a school that elevates art, architecture and design opportunities for all the citizens of the state,” Steele said. “I’m excited for the potential outcomes and opportunities SDSU students will have going forward. [This] elevates the state and places design education on the same footing as our peers and aspirations peer-universities.”

At least two new faculty members will be hired for graphic design and landscape architecture, and as the School of Design grows, more faculties may be needed.

“[There is a] goal of raising the remaining funds through corporate and individual donors. Graphic design, studio art and interior design will begin their BFA accreditation beginning fall of 2016. Landscape architecture is scheduled to begin BLA accreditation on a similar time line. Interior design is already nationally accredited through CIDA; the BFA accreditation will represent dual accreditation through the National Associations of Schools of Art and Design,” explained Steele.

With aspirations high, the School of Design aims to make an impact in the area through an increase in design students and make SDSU known for its design program.

Davis said, “This will give SDSU a name because there isn’t an architecture school in the state.”