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Press Release

Contact: Joelle Park
412-268-5765

For immediate release:
March 5, 2002

Carnegie Mellon's Richard Buchanan to Step down as Head of Design School

PITTSBURGH—At the end of the academic year Richard Buchanan, head of the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University, will step down after serving two terms. He will remain on the school's faculty.

"Today, the School of Design is a dynamic model for design schools here and around the world," said Martin Prekop, the Stanley and Marcia Gumberg Dean of the College of Fine Arts (CFA). "We are grateful for Richard's efforts to position the school as a vibrant, highly respected program, acknowledged as a leader in design education."

Buchanan came to Carnegie Mellon as a visiting professor in fall 1991. He returned the following year as the head of the Department of Design, now known as the School of Design.

"I returned because Design at Carnegie Mellon offered something no one else had, a hospitable environment for new ideas and an excellent faculty and student body possessing the courage to rethink the future of their discipline in the context of a changing world," he said.

Buchanan's accomplishments as head of the school reflect his belief in the university and Dean Prekop's support of programs devoted to new knowledge. "It is because of his support that the School of Design has been able to undergo a tremendous and positive transformation during my service as head," said Buchanan.

Shortly after his arrival as head, the School of Design restructured its undergraduate curriculum. Buchanan and the Design faculty collaborated to engineer a program to serve the future of the design field, based on study of current problems and strategic trends in industry and society. The resulting curriculum is based on a humanistic vision that prepares students for professional life and study in a changing world, where knowledge is integrated from many disciplines.

"The national accreditation team that reviewed the plan declared it the most clearly thought out and interdisciplinary program they had seen," said Buchanan.

Today the School of Design offers a range of degrees and majors and a minor in either Communication Design or Industrial Design. The school also offers master's degree programs in Communication Planning and Information Design and Interaction Design.It recently initiated a doctoral program, joining a small number of national institutions in preparing the next generation of design professors, researchers and professionals.

CFA's and the university's commitment to interdisciplinary cooperation is a factor Buchanan says is necessary to advance the theory and practice of design in the contemporary world. In research efforts, the school has collaborative relationships with the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, the Robotics Institute and the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems. Buchanan said the school's strengths are enhanced by "ready access" to expertise in other parts of the university.

"New facilities and renovations have also brought the school to a new level of excellence," he said. The School of Design manages four facilities that directly support the work of students and faculty: the John Reese Memorial Electronic Studio, the 3-D Laboratory, the Imaging Laboratory and the Letterpress Facility.

In addition to serving as the school's head, Buchanan teaches Interaction Design, Communication Planning and the Philosophy and Theory of Design. He is co-editor of "Discovering Design: Explorations in Design Studies, The Idea of Design and Pluralism in Theory and Practice." He is editor of the international journal "Design Issues: History, Theory, Criticism, "One of the foremost scholarly journals of design in the world. The editorial office of the journal moved to the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon in 1993. Buchanan is also the new President of the Design Research Society, a multi-disciplinary international society for the design research community.

Recently, Buchanan initiated a student and faculty project with the U.S. Postal Service. The Information Design project explores a strategy for redesigning the Domestic Mail Manual, the Postal Service's master regulation and service manual. Buchanan's proposal has received more than $2 million dollars in federal funding.

Buchanan received his bachelors and doctor's degrees from the University of Chicago.

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