SDSU School of Design: Director, Dr. Pat Crawford, Shares Exciting Changes Ahead

School of Design at SDSU Background

The School’s new director, Dr. Pat Crawford, offered the history of the school: “South Dakota State University is a land-grant institution with a rich tradition of liberal arts education paired with quality professional education to serve the public good. The School of Design, formed in 2015, offers a unique professional education experience for students in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Design, Graphic Design and Studio Art with specializations in painting, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture and art education, ”

New Leadership & Maintaining Accreditation

Dr. Pat Crawford accepted the Directorship of the School of Design in the fall of 2018. In her words, “The unique collection of visual art and built environment majors in the School of Design offered an opportunity to continue my growth as an scholar, designer and administrator.” Dr. Crawford said the first 18 months have focused on listening, learning and building relationships.

One of the School’s goals is accreditation for every major. In order to receive accreditation, there will be a total of four, yes four, site visits from the accreditation team between 2018-2020 (these include NAAB for Architecture, CIDA for Interior Design, LAAB for Landscape Architecture, and NASAD for Studio Art, Graphic Design and Interior Design). Architecture received a 10 year renewal, the Interior Design and Landscape Architecture visits were positive and official letters are expected soon, and the NASAD team will be on-site in March.

A school’s accreditation is especially important criteria for architecture students pursuing their license because one of the requirements is receiving a degree from an accredited program.

Challenges (Opportunities) of a New Program

Dr. Crawford said “the integrative opportunities and challenges of a School structure are exciting! At it’s inception, the School of Design crafted a first year (horizontal) common core as a hallmark curricular element. An unforeseen challenge was attracting and retaining 18-21 year old’s within the majors when their first year is focused on interdisciplinary experiences.” She went on, “today’s students are looking for a direct connection to their career coursework and with the faculty of their chosen major from day one. The Gen Z students are also often ill-equipped to thrive in an interdisciplinary team classroom structure their freshman year.”

Adapting the Program

Working with the faculty, and actualizing knowledge she gained from her SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning)1 research in the design professions, they are moving to a vertical common core in the 2020-2021 academic year. The vertical structure retains the original spirit of enhancing interdisciplinary skills while adapting to the drivers and strengths of young collegians. The freshman year retains a common studio and creative thinking course to foster development of team skills, creative thinking processes, and a shared design experience across the majors. Introductory courses for each major are included at the freshmen level. In the sophomore and junior year students take an elective (one each year) that crosses over to the other discipline from their major (visual art/ built environment). In their senior year, when they have developed disciplinary knowledge and matured as young adults, the students enroll in a 2-credit design capstone. Each capstone section will have a mix of 10-12 students from across the School and are taught by a cross-disciplinary teams of faculty focusing on a topic related to their research or creative activity.

A New Space to Call Home

From the School’s inception, the goal was to co-locate the majors as much as possible to create an environment for students and faculty that fosters the integrative school vision. The Barn (previously the University gymnasium and built in 1918) is identified as the potential home of the School of Design and is identified in the current University fund raising campaign. “We are looking forward to crafting a bold vision for the Barn that respects the historical fabric and creates a modern environment to deliver art and design education,” Crawford said.

In Summary

“It’s the potential of the Barn, building and sustaining accredited programs, and creating an environment for ‘what can be’ to become ‘what is’ that make administrative service worthwhile.  The School of Design has creative, dedicated, talented faculty and I am looking forward to working with them to see what comes next.”

Dr. Pat Crawford

Dr. Pat Crawford, is Director for the School of Design at South Dakota State University. She is a licensed Landscape Architect, holds a BS in Horticulture from the University of Missouri, a Master of Landscape Architecture from Kansas State University, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Design & Planning from Arizona State University.

  1. The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is an emerging movement of scholarly thought and action that draws on the reciprocal relationship between teaching and learning at the post-secondary level (Boyer, 1990). An important goal of SoTL is to enhance and augment learning amongst and between individual learners by investigating the many features of discipline specific expertise and best pedagogical practice (McKinney, 2006).

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