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New Dean to Lead UC’s Top-Ranked College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning


A design professional with years of industry experience, Robert Probst brings an international perspective - both personal and professional - to his new role as dean of UC's globally ranked College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.

Date: 6/9/2008 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Andrew Higley

UC ingot  

Programs within the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning are routinely ranked as best in the nation and the world.

Chosen to lead this premier college as its new dean is designer Robert Probst, who is  recognized for his own professional design excellence. After all, he is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale, an elite group of the best professionals in graphic design worldwide. Probst is one of only about 80 designers in North America who are part of this distinguished organization.

Robert Probst
Robert Probst

He has also filled a national leadership role with the Society for Environmental Graphic Design, has been active on the group's board, has led the SEGD's Education Foundation and is an SEGD fellow.

Probst has been serving as interim DAAP dean since August 2007, upon the retirement of former dean, Judith Koroscik. His new appointment to permanently head the college is effective July 1, 2008, pending approval of UC’s Board of Trustees. The national search for a new dean was headed by a committee led by Richard Newrock, dean of UC’s College of Applied Science.

In regard to the selection of Probst as dean, UC President Nancy L. Zimpher said, “Anyone who has ever been in the same room with Robert Probst knows what an energetic and passionate leader he is. He has done a superb job as interim dean and is a world-class dean for our truly world-class DAAP.”

Anthony J. Perzigian, UC senior vice president and provost, stated, “In his candidacy, Robert Probst presented outstanding academic credentials that have earned him numerous professional awards and high international standing. As director of the School of Design, he gained extensive experience in an important academic leadership position that carried over into his effective role as interim dean. It should also be noted that his professional accomplishments and vision for the college’s advancement are matched only by his passion and dedication for DAAP and UC.”

What is, perhaps, surprising about Probst's leadership role is that he didn't necessarily plan out his career, which has included professional industry experience in the United States, Germany and Switzerland. In fact, upon arriving at DAAP in 1978, he planned to stay for only one year. 

He explained, "I came here as a visiting instructor almost 30 years ago because I wanted to learn more about this culture. I knew that would help shape and hone my design career in Europe. I wanted to learn more about the education system. I planned to stay for one year as a sabbatical from the professional design firm where I was working at the time."

Instead, Probst stayed in order to build both an academic and an industry career side by side - while overcoming many challenges.

He explained, “In the beginning, my English-born wife, Alison, also a designer, came to class with me almost daily to assist with language issues. Sometimes, I could tell, she wasn’t translating what I intended because she had a different point of view. So, we would have debates in front of the class – in German of course – and the students just loved it. I’m sure we were the best entertainment going.”

Probst found that he enjoyed teaching and that, in time, he loved DAAP even while pursuing a professional career that saw his work put on permanent display in such wide-ranging venues as the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the Museum of Design in Zurich and the International Council of Graphic Design Associations Hall of Fame in London.

At the same time, he excelled in teaching, and in 2001, he became director of the School of Design, a position he held until being named the college's interim dean.

As dean, Probst plans to extend DAAP's international reach and scope. A native of Germany who attended school at Europe's premiere graphic design school in Basel, Switzerland, he knows what it is to live and work in a mix of cultures - and the industry trends driving design globalization.

He stated, "Our college has advanced to a level of international prominence to where we are forging connections and partnering with industries who are also at the highest level. In terms of research, service and practice, DAAP's industry connections are second to none. It's the ever-increasing quality of our programs that has, to me, been a continued inspiration. I've always loved this college and enjoyed what we are doing here."

Thus, he is actively seeking to grow global connections for the college. DAAP has cultivated international cooperative education opportunities for students, allowing for work abroad. But recently, the college also formed exchange programs with a variety of European schools.

"The language of design is an international one. That is why our students need more  opportunities in Asia and Europe. The greater their cultural fluency and experience, the more likely they will be to shape and lead the design, architecture, art and planning professions and to create breakthrough innovations that mean better lives for people all around the world," said Probst.

He also plans to continue fostering cross-disciplinary, cross-college projects, courses and majors as a means for providing students greater exposure in areas where design intersects with business, engineering, medicine and other disciplines.

“My goal is simple and straightforward. DAAP is already world class. We are aiming to be first in a world class of institutions,” he stated. 

Robert Probst

Academic background:

  • College of Design, Basel, Switzerland, 1975 (Degree equivalent to an M.S. in the United States)
    Major: Visual Communication 
  • University of Essen, Germany, 1973 (Degree equivalent to a U.S. baccalaureate) 
    Major: Visual Communication Design

Professional background:

Academic

  • Interim Dean, College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), University of Cincinnati, August 2007-present 
  • Director, School of Design at UC, 2001-2007 
  • Professor, Graphic Design at UC, 1998-present 
  • Associate Professor, Graphic Design at UC, 1984-1998 
  • Assistant Professor, Graphic Design at UC, 1980-1984 
  • Instructor, Graphic Design at UC, 1978-1980

Professional

  • Principal, Firehouse Design Team, 1993-2005
  • Partner, Schenker, Probst, Barensfeld, 1981-1993
  • Senior Designer, Bureau Aicher Visual Communication, Germany, 1976-1978
  • Designer, Bureau Aicher Visual Communication, Germany, 1975-1976