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In National Survey, Employers Give A+ to UC Design Faculty

Tony Kawanari, professor of design, is one of four UC design faculty named by the nation’s employers to a prestigious list of America’s Most Admired design teachers.

Date: 2/7/2006
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Andrew Higley
UC ingot Ask Tony Kawanari, from UC’s top-ranked College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, about the most important skill he teaches, and he’ll tell you: “It’s design, yes, tied right with communication. If you can’t communicate what you do, then what you do is likely to become quickly lost.”

Tony Kawanari, left, with fourth-year student Lauren Althaus

Besides, certain other skills necessary to designers cannot be easily taught, like imagination. “Imagination is more important than knowledge because imagination is unlimited. But, you either have it or you don’t. You also need to be able to juggle different skills at the same time. For instance, you need to be able to visualize and design that vision all at the same time,” Tony adds.

As far as teaching goes, Tony definitely has it, according to the nation’s architecture, engineering and design employers. He is one of four University of Cincinnati design faculty named to a short list of America’s Most Admired Industrial Design Educators in 2006. That list appeared in the December 2005 issue of DesignIntelligence magazine, a design industry publication of the Design Futures Council. Every December, the magazine publishes the results of its annual survey of design and engineering employers regarding the nation’s best design programs. UC again made that list this past year with the nation’s

  • Number one undergraduate interior design program (for the 7th straight year)
  • Number one architecture program among the magazine’s Top Ten Most Innovative Architecture Programs
  • Number two architecture program in terms of overall quality
  • Number two industrial design program

In the rankings, UC beat out such East Coast rivals as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia and Cornell on the strengths of its Top Ten co-op program (ranked among the nation’s elite by U.S. News & World Report), the challenging curriculum at DAAP and the excellence of its design faculty.

Tony Kawanari, left, with fourth-year student John Ficker

For the first time this year, the 2006 blue-ribbon rankings also included a listing of the nation’s best design faculty. UC had four faculty members on that list – Tony Kawanari, Gerry Michaud, Dale Murray and Craig Vogel. Only one other school in the nation (Art Center in California) had as many.

Tony is, himself, a graduate of Art Center but came to UC 20 years ago after beginning his teaching career in California. “I came to DAAP to teach because of the school’s reputation even then. It was the best academic institution around, partly because of co-op and also because of the number of design projects and programs sponsored by industry. We’ve always had businesses coming to us with real-world problems to solve amongst our students in studio. Right now, we have students working on designs for a survival kit to be used after disasters like Katrina.”

Any such project is a “50-50 proposition” between teacher and student, according to Tony. The instructor’s role is to “genuinely care about the students’ progress and their development, to show them respect because everyone has wisdom. I certainly don’t know everything,” Tony admits.

What he does know is how he would like to remembered by his students. “I hope when they look back at their time at UC, they know how much I enjoyed being their teacher, how much I tried to both challenge and support them. I hope I leave them better for having been their teacher.”


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