2021 - 2026 Strategic Plan



Our Mission 

Growing a vibrant community of changemakers.













Dear College of Design community and friends,

I am proud to present our very first strategic plan for the College of Design at the University of Oregon. I began serving this remarkable community as Dean in the Spring of 2021 and this plan is intended to provide a framework that will shape and direct the first five years of my term. The plan represents our collective goals and is the result of an extensive series of listening and learning sessions involving our faculty, staff, students, academic leadership, and alumni.

Dean Adrian Parr

The 2021-2026 College of Design Strategic Plan aspires to grow a vibrant community of changemakers. The plan identifies five foundational goals to support a sustainable and visionary future for the college. The plan is both aspirational and realistic. It prioritizes fostering a genuinely supportive work environment, one where all members of our community can flourish; raising our visibility nationally and globally; strengthening our capacity to deliver high-quality educational programs; advancing faculty development; and creating new mutually beneficial partnerships with the professional sector, government entities, and our vast network of alumni. We plan on increasing philanthropic support to advance student and faculty success; to upgrade our facilities and equipment; to introduce operational efficiencies; to significantly advance research and teaching excellence; and to engage with our surrounding communities in meaningful and positive ways. Moreover, this plan sets forth a pathway to continue improving our organizational culture with a shared commitment to be a welcoming, compassionate, and truly participatory community.

During the past two years we have enjoyed significant enrollment growth reaching just shy of 2,000 students. We are investing in new tenure-track faculty hires and attracting some of the best and brightest in their fields to join our growing community. We are developing new transdisciplinary learning opportunities to remain relevant and to continue being pioneers in our respective fields, as well as proactively responding to the educational needs of a rapidly changing workforce.

This plan sets out to directly respond to the changing needs of the 21st Century learner. It builds upon the rich legacy and bold initiatives that are currently underway in the college to provide a transformative educational experience for our students. Students are at the core of who we are, what we do, and why we do it. Empowering students from all backgrounds to discover the very best version of themselves whilst in college means being attentive and mindful of their mental health, as much as it means enhancing their academic journey. As the plan recognizes, it also means developing opportunities for our students to excel both during their time with us and after they graduate.

I am honored to be entrusted with this extraordinary opportunity to lead, represent, and advocate for an incredibly brilliant group of individuals, and to partner with you in preparing the college for continued success.

Thank you for your continued support.

And… Go Ducks!

Photo of Dean Adrian Parr's signature





Adrian Parr
Dean and Professor
College of Design
Senior Fellow, Design Futures Council
University of Oregon
UNESCO Chair on Water and Human Settlements

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Land Acknowledgement

The University of Oregon is located on Kalapuya ilihi, the traditional indigenous homeland of the Kalapuya people. Following treaties between 1851 and 1855, the Kalapuya people were dispossessed of their indigenous homeland by the United States government and forcibly removed to the Coast Reservation in Western Oregon. Today, Kalapuya descendants are primarily citizens of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and they continue to make important contributions to their communities, to the UO, to Oregon, and to the world.

We, in the College of Design, acknowledge our responsibility to assist in the revitalization and future flourishing of Oregon’s Native communities as we fulfill our role in shaping the education provided by the University of Oregon.


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Our Vision










Our People

Our people are at the heart of who we are and our success. We are a community of researchers, practitioners, creators, professionals, learners, academics, and entrepreneurs. We aspire to attract, retain, and grow highly talented individuals who share a common purpose: the pursuit of creative and scholarly excellence. We value the emotional and intellectual well-being of all members of our community. We pride ourselves on being collaborative, supportive, and respectful of one another. We prioritize a diverse, inclusive, and equitable learning environment where all members of our community can feel connected and share their uniqueness.

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Our Story

Our educational and research ecosystems leverage a rich legacy of social and environmental justice, scholarship, and creative practice. Since the beginning, the curriculum and faculty have emphasized interdisciplinary and engaged learning. This carries through publications, studios, design projects, capstone projects, research teams, and exhibitions that reach local and global communities. Here in the College of Design  (DSGN) we build relationships and develop individual and collective talents of a future generation of changemakers.

DSGN was formed in 2017 through a reorganization of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts (AAA). AAA was founded in 1914 and went through several changes throughout its history, including a merger with the Wallace School of Public Affairs and the addition of Lawrence Hall.

The college is composed of: (1) the School of Architecture & Environment; (2) the School of Art + Design; (3) the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management; and (4) the Department of the History of Art and Architecture. The college is home to a myriad of research centers, institutes and labs. Faculty and students in the DSGN annually attract millions of dollars in external research funding; publish books and articles with academic presses and journals; and exhibit their work on a national and international stage.

Our community consists of 2,000 students, 56 staff, and 163 faculty. There are 15 graduate programs and 9 undergraduate programs spanning an array of fields and professions. The majority of our programs are accredited by professional organizations, and a strong link to practice and the professions is a common theme across all programs.

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Our Strategic Planning Process

In 2022 the college leadership came together for our annual retreat to strategically envision our collective future and build on the strategic activities that began with the arrival of Dean Adrian Parr in 2021. The theme of the retreat, set by Dean Parr, was coined ‘Creating Community Together.’ The retreat was on the heels of a period of major restructuring of the College of Design; the international COVID-19 crisis; and new leadership across all sectors of the college.

Based on guidance from the retreat, the college embarked on developing a new strategic plan during fall, winter, and spring terms with input from all constituencies.

Skeleton Draft: In Fall 2022 college leadership reached out to a wide range of groups to discuss the potential elements of a new vision and to develop a structure that was called a “skeleton plan”. This was revised through:

  • Discussions with faculty at 7 department meetings
  • Meeting with staff and OAs
  • Discussions with the DEI Committee and Faculty Advisory Committee
  • Focus groups with 3 groups of students nominated by department heads
  • Ongoing meetings and feedback with Department Heads and Dean’s staff

Action Items: To generate action items for the plan, the college provided several opportunities for input.

  • 3 Faculty and staff workshops (1 virtual and 2 in person): involving 46 individuals.
  • Survey for all faculty and staff: 307 individual comments.
  • A “Give Us Your Ideas” survey to all students: 63 valid responses.
  • Confidential interview led by an external consultant.

All action items were compiled and reviewed. A preliminary draft was reviewed with department heads, advising staff, Dean’s staff, and others for refinement.

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Our Strategic Planning Process (cont.)

Climate Survey: After the release of the UO Climate Survey, additional action items were identified. Rather than creating a separate climate section, these were integrated throughout the document.

This Draft: The final draft went through several iterations by college leadership to streamline the plan, align it with an assessment of potential time and resources, and identify actions that can be reasonably implemented in a 3-5 year time frame.

This plan was shared with faculty, staff, and students to solicit feedback before it was finalized and publicly shared. An operational plan that defines timelines, lead responsibilities, and benchmarks will accompany this document as a companion piece.

The time frame for this plan is 2021-2026, which covers five years starting with the arrival of Adrian Parr as Dean of the College of Design.



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Foundational Goals

















  1. The College of Design (DSGN) community will seed and support student curiosity, discovery, talent, and aspirations.

    Students are our priority. We strive to provide our students with an outstanding learning experience. We welcome and support a diverse range of students from traditional to non-traditional learners. We are the institution of choice for socially and environmentally engaged learners from a variety of backgrounds because we are a welcoming and inclusive community of researchers and creatives.

    We recognize and embrace the different experiences that our learners offer. We embrace a variety of perspectives as a source of mutual enrichment both in the college, across campus, and for the community networks in which we are embedded.

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  1. The College of Design community will advance faculty excellence and expertise.

    The College of Design cultivates a supportive and intellectually exciting place to pursue creative and scholarly work that is recognized nationally and internationally. We work to provide the physical, financial, and intellectual infrastructure to support excellence in research and creative practice. Our faculty and their work are recognized through prestigious research, publications, exhibitions, fellowships, and awards.

    We take great pride and care in our roles as educators, mentors, and collaborators. We are known as leaders in environmental design, contemporary art, engaged learning, creative practice, and solutions-based curricula. Our faculty and curriculum challenges learners while fostering a supportive and inclusive environment. We take great care and pride in our roles as educators and mentors, as our students’ success has ripple effects across the world and across generations.

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Mary Polites, Design for Living Systems, 2022

  1. The College of Design community will design and deliver ambitious, relevant, and impactful curricula and pedagogy.

    The educational mission of the College of Design (DSGN) embraces complexity, humanity, and sustainability. We encourage students to bring integrity, compassion, and sensitivity to their learning while training them to be successful practitioners, skilled collaborators, and independent thinkers.  

    DSGN faculty and students continuously push the boundaries of design. We are at the forefront of sustainability and social justice research in the design of buildings, interiors, landscapes, and communities.We research important pressing topics and propose locally and globally conscientious planning and policymaking. We thrive as true global citizens who advocate for pluralism, equity, and inclusion with a profound understanding and empathy for diverse cultural histories and heritages.

    We create art, design, and scholarship that leads new ideas in the field.

    Our curricula connect students to communities, investigate contested histories, and expose them to real-world problems. We aspire to foster meaningful dialogue with—and critique of–the industries and institutions of cultural production, value-making, and governance and the transformative role these play in society.

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  1. The College of Design community will responsibly and sustainably steward and expand our collective resources.

    Essential to the success of the College of Design’s ambitious teaching and research mission is the development and management of sustainable and appropriate resources. A transformative educational experience is contingent on appropriate and inspiring facilities that allow students access to current practices and opportunities. Safe, well-equipped, and conducive learning spaces support the diverse, forward-looking curriculum and future needs of the College of Design. 

    Facilities are crucial, as well, to the creative practice and research aspirations of the college. Across diverse fields, College of Design faculty are recognized for their innovative work and exceptional accomplishments. Our spaces must facilitate inquiry, experimentation, and invention, as faculty and student work advances and evolves to address the world’s complex challenges.

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  1. The College of Design community will cultivate and nurture an enriching experience for all members of our community.

    The greatest opportunity we have for achieving our goals lies in sharpening and nurturing the rich and diverse talents of our community members. The members of our college community professionally work together to ensure our students receive the highest quality academic and creative education through research and professionally informed teaching.

    Celebrating and engaging the strengths and abilities of our faculty, staff, and students is key to building momentum to achieve our vision and mission. We are invested in consistently cultivating a workplace that fosters creative and productive partnerships. Ours is a community defined by care and the sharing of expertise, skills, and experiences.

    We seek to inspire all members of our community.

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Our Strategic Plan












The College of Design community will seed and support student curiosity, discovery, talent, and post-graduation aspirations.

Strategic Objectives

  1. Increase advising capacity to increase student retention and graduation rates, guide students on degree options, assist with student belonging, and support students throughout their time in the College of Design.

  2. Create a Dean’s Student Advisory Council with representatives from across the college to exchange information about student opportunities, needs, and ideas for action. 

  3. Develop student-alumni mentorship programs to provide early and ongoing connections between students and alumni, which will help students understand career options and promote networks for national and international internships and job opportunities.

  4. Expand internship opportunities that will help students explore career options and employment networks along with increasing connections with alumni and other employers.

  5. Increase student financial aid to increase access to a diverse group of students and ensure students can complete their studies and access the full range of academic opportunities in the College of Design.

  6. Develop the newly launched weeklong, collegewide, annual career fair to expose students to the range of internship and career opportunities and connect alumni and employers with students in the college.

  7. Create a new position of Associate Dean for Student Affairs to support and enrich the student experience and support ongoing innovation of our curriculum.

  8. Expand and develop student affinity groups for key underrepresented communities to provide networks, build community, and increase a sense of belonging.


  • Cultivate a deeper sense of student belonging.
  • Prepare future changemakers for professional success in national and global fields.
  • Inspire students to realize their full creative and intellectual potential.
  • Provide a dynamic, accessible, and affordable education.
  • Create pathways for greater opportunity and equity for all.
  • Support a work environment that enables all faculty, staff, and students to thrive.

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The College of Design community will advance faculty excellence and expertise.

Strategic Objectives

  1. Introduce a faculty research and creative practice recognition program to honor and publicize the work of faculty in the College of Design and stimulate new collaboration and work across the college.

  2. Create new endowed faculty positions that provide recognition and financial support for individuals in leadership roles (department heads) and individuals who have gained a high level of academic achievement.

  3. Create collegewide faculty research and creative practice policies that ensure faculty are supported in their individual research, and institutes and centers.

  4. Develop a collegewide faculty mentorship program that provides a range of mentoring support at all ranges of their careers.


  • Advance and expand the research mission of the university.
  • Maximize faculty expertise to accelerate innovation, knowledge production, and socioenvironmental impact.
  • Equitably distribute college resources to support faculty research.

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The College of Design community will design and deliver ambitious, relevant, and impactful curricula and pedagogy.

Strategic Objectives

  1. Inaugurate a new transdisciplinary undergraduate degree in Environmental Design that is infused with an applied, career-oriented curriculum.

  2. Create a new faculty teaching awards program that recognize faculty for their excellence, and provides opportunities to share their strategies, practices, and approaches.

  3. Introduce new flexible graduate offerings that allow students to complete their work in a range of modes, timelines, and formats.

  4. Increase student research opportunities through programs that encourage student-faculty collaboration, which can inspire students to engage in learning outside the classroom and consider advanced study.  

  5. Continue to build community-engaged learning options that allow students to connect with community, professional, and organizational clients.

  6. Catalyze the restructuring of the curriculum and pedagogy to promote: decolonization of the curriculum, provide more opportunities for sharing information about historically excluded cultures and populations, and continue to integrate more diverse perspectives into curricula, courses, content, instructors, and presenters.


  • Prepare students for a rapidly changing employment context.
  • Prepare students to work with more diverse people and communities.
  • Expand study abroad opportunities beyond a North American and Eurocentric frame of reference by providing a balance of programs and opportunities.
  • Make college programs more accessible and affordable to non-traditional students.
  • Mobilize learning that makes a difference in the world.

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The College of Design community will responsibly and sustainably steward and expand our collective resources.

Strategic Objectives

  1. Invest in the sustainable replacement and renovation of facilities to meet critical programmatic needs and ensure the college’s reputation for innovative teaching and research.

  2. Develop a financially sustainable plan for maintaining and replacing equipment and technology to ensure that instructors and researchers have continuous access to equipment and technology that supports the college as leaders in their fields.

  3. Diversify revenue sources to reduce volatility in budgeting to support key priorities in the college.

  4. Embed principles of equity and inclusion in the management of the college general fund to ensure that every member of our community can be successful in their work.

  5. Generate $10 million in new gifts and endowments to support strategic objectives in the college.

  6. Invest $1 million in the development of an outdoor classroom dedicated to research informed teaching on sustainable food systems.

  7. Ensure that all facilities and learning opportunities are accessible to those with different abilities.


  • State-of-the-art educational facilities supporting a dynamic teaching ecology that takes place in studios, galleries, seminars, lectures, and outdoor classrooms.
  • Ambitiously deepen support for innovation across all sectors of the college.
  • Grow teaching and research capacity.
  • Deliver cutting-edge and enriching learning experiences.
  • Mobilize our reputation and global network of alumni and friends to grow resources to successfully advance our mission and values.
  • Foster a welcoming and well designed physical environment.
  • Strengthen financial sustainability to meet our mission and values.

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The College of Design community will cultivate and nurture an enriching experience for all members of our community.

Strategic Objectives

  1. Create new onboarding programs, professional development opportunities, and updated policies for faculty and staff that helps support and retain them.
  2. Holistically implement respectful workplace guidelines and develop anti-bullying training to ensure that all faculty, staff, administrators, and students operate in an environment that is positive, respectful, and supportive.
  3. Create recognition programs that acknowledge the contributions of faculty and staff to support the goals and mission of the college.
  4. Hold periodic collegewide faculty and staff socials to encourage community-building, networking, and create a positive climate to advance retention.
  5. Activate current college spaces for collegewide exhibitions, displays, and exhibitions that showcase student work and accomplishments.
  6. Create and enhance spaces or venues that create opportunities for informal faculty gathering and interaction.
  7. Increase profile of public engagement led by faculty and students to raise the profile and promote the work in the college across campus.
  8. Identify current and future staffing needs to realize our mission and periodically reevaluate needs to support operations.


  • Cultivate a culture of collegiality.
  • Advance a deeper sense of belonging and kindness for all members of the college.
  • Catalyze cross-college and community engagement and collaboration.
  • Cultivate public awareness and appreciation of creative practices.
  • Cultivate a friendly, supportive, and inclusive working environment to attract and retain talent.
  • Achieve operational sustainability and resilience and a culture that strives to provide operational excellence despite ongoing resource challenges.

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Our Strategic Planning Team

Adrian Parr
College of Design
University of Oregon

Richard Margerum
Associate Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs
College of Design
University of Oregon

Stacy Williams-Wright
Assistant Dean of Finance and Operations
College of Design
University of Oregon

Jeffrey Billington
Assistant Dean of Planning and Facilities
College of Design
University of Oregon

Laura Vandenburgh
Director of the School of Art + Design
College of Design
University of Oregon

Michael Zaretsky
Interim Director of the School of Architecture & Environment
Head of the Department of Architecture
College of Design
University of Oregon

Renee Irvin
Interim Director of the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management
College of Design
University of Oregon

Akiko Walley
Head of the Department of the History of Art and Architecture
College of Design
University of Oregon

Anya Kivarkis
Head of the Art Department
College of Design
University of Oregon

Wonhee Arndt
Head of the Department of Product Design
College of Design
University of Oregon

Liska Chan
Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture
College of Design
University of Oregon

Kyu-Ho Ahn
Head of the Department of Interior Architecture
College of Design
University of Oregon


Anita Yap
Principal and Founder
Therese McLain
Senior Project Manager
Multicultural Collaborative

Bonita Mackey
International Coach, Organizational Consultant, and DEI Strategist
Mackey Coaching and Consulting

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College of Design logo with a Yellow 'O' and white text.