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UT Austin Department Of Design Announces Six New Faculty Hires

Amid thriving enrollment, new faculty recruitment efforts complement Department DEI priorities

AUSTIN, Oct. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- With soaring applications and amplified student interest in design on campus, The University of Texas at Austin hired six new faculty members across multiple design disciplines for the 2021-2022 academic year. This represents the largest design faculty recruiting effort in the history of the university, welcoming members from around the world to join its world-class academic community.

The new UT faculty bring expertise in a range of topics, from artificial intelligence to health design and technology. But more importantly, their research and practice collectively bring increased focus and expertise to issues of inclusion and equity in the field of design.  Criteria for the open positions required engagement in creative or scholarly work that centers on issues of race, ethnicity, decoloniality, intersectionality, oppression, resistance, and/or activism, in an effort to further the department's position that that design should serve —and be practiced by—people of diverse races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, abilities, ages, socioeconomic statuses, nationalities, and linguistic and cultural traditions.

"I am beyond thrilled to welcome this incredibly talented group of new faculty to the Department of Design," said Kate Canales, Chair of the Department of Design in the School of Design and Creative Technologies. "From traditional graphic design and interaction design to speculative product design and decolonized design history, this cohort of faculty reflects our commitment to meeting the needs of our students in these times of progress, and matriculating the future of our field."

Meet the new faculty:

  • Catalina Alzate joins UT's Department of Design as an assistant professor of practice. Alzate is a design researcher and educator dedicated to advancing products and technologies that increase equity and justice. Her work lies at the intersection of design, technology, and society.
  • Jiabao Li joins UT's Department of Design as an assistant professor. Li's research spans the intersection of emerging technology, art and design, asking users to confront big issues like climate change and our relationship to technology. Her mediums include wearables, robotics, AR/VR, projection, performance, software, and installation. Li is a member of New Museum's cultural incubator, NEW INC, and has showcased recent work at Shanghai Ming Contemporary Art Museum, Anchorage Museum, and Alaska State Museum. 
  • Cheryl Miller joins UT's Department of Design for a one-year visiting professorship, supported by UT's prestigious Doty Professorship. Miller, a legend in the field, has a strong record of advocacy for under-represented groups in the graphic design industry. In 2021, Miller has been named both an AIGA Medalist and "Design Visionary" by the Cooper Hewitt National Design Awards; she is the only person in history to receive both industry accolades in the same year.
  • Cat Ploehn joins UT's Department of Design as an assistant professor of practice. Ploehn works with alternative data visualization practices at the intersection of  design, data visualization, ecology, artificial intelligence, and feminism. Ploehn leverages data visualization to combat analyze, critique, and reframe complex social issues.
  • Vic Rodriguez Tang joins UT's Department of Design as a Lecturer. They have worked with clients across all industries, including food and beverage, technology, consumer products, nonprofits, and more. Vic's current research focuses on the effects of gender biases in design and advertising throughout the years. Their methods include orthodox and unorthodox design explorations that challenge visual trends influenced by a gender binary system.
  • Raven Veal joins UT's Department of Design as a lecturer while concurrently serving as design lead at Citi Ventures Studio, supporting the development of inclusive product and service experiences. Veal will work primary with Master's students in the Design in Health program. Her work centers on advancing racial equity in design and technology.

The new faculty members join a legacy design program at UT, which was founded in 1992. In 2017, the department joined the Arts and Entertainment Technologies program to become the School of Design and Creative Technologies, led by Assistant Dean Doreen Lorenzo. Since the school's inception, enrollment in design courses at UT (from both majors and non-majors) program has quadrupled, creating a need for more instructors. The School of Design and Creative Technologies is committed to growing a faculty that is as diverse and vibrant as the student body.

With the department's growing student and faculty numbers, comes an increase in studio space and labs. In August, together with UT Robotics, the Department of Design will expand into 12,000 additional square feet of the historic Anna Hiss Gymnasium. The newly renovated space features classrooms, work spaces, labs and an outdoor courtyard with Sentinel IV , a 10-foot bronze sculpture by celebrated New York-based artist Simone Leigh.

The department continues to recruit additional faculty members for the 2022-2023 academic year.

PRESS CONTACT Nada Antoun Dorman Assistant Director of Communications

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SOURCE The University of Texas at Austin