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Attendees applaud Joseph Ballay during the dedication ceremony for the Joseph Ballay Center for Design Fusion.

CFA Days Highlight Major College Events

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Pam Wigley
College of Fine Arts

The last week of September was filled with several events within the Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts(opens in new window) (CFA). A highlight of the week was the installation of Mary Ellen Poole as CFA's 13th dean(opens in new window). The same ceremony officially welcomed heads of the schools of architecture, drama and music. Two other major dedications took place, as well.

Jill Watson Studio Dedication

On Wednesday, Sept. 29, the School of Architecture(opens in new window) welcomed the family of Jill Watson, a 1987 alumna of the school and, later, an adjunct faculty member, who was working toward her Master of Fine Arts degree at Carnegie Mellon when she perished in the crash of TWA Flight 800 on July 17, 1996. Her family established the Jill Watson Family Foundation to continue her dedication to the love of all art forms and her advocacy for engaging varied groups of people in the arts, whether they were her students or a broader community audience.

Jill's mother, Janice, dedicated the first- and second-year studio space on the second floor of the CFA Building in Jill's memory. The space was updated with a complete repainting and floor finishing and future improvements are planned. The foundation also will provide funding to inaugurate the Jill Watson Visiting Professorship in fall 2023. The professorship will bring a notable architect and educator to spend a semester teaching at the school and bring global perspective to students.

"It is fitting that we would name the CFA 200 studio as the Jill Watson Studio because it is where she taught students from 1989-1995," said School of Architecture Head Omar Khan(opens in new window). "The studio is at the heart of architecture pedagogy as students spend considerable hours working on their designs. This space will hold special memories for our current students as it has done for generations of alumni. We are heartened that Jill's name will be associated with it and that her passion for architecture and art will continue to have a presence in CFA."

A group photo

From left, Janice Watson, Mary Ellen Poole and Omar Khan in the Jill Watson Studio

Joseph Ballay Center for Design Fusion Dedication

Friends of School of Design(opens in new window) alumnus Joseph Ballay(opens in new window) gathered Friday morning, Sept. 30, to recognize the $10 million gift he and his wife, Sue, made during summer 2022 to the school. It will establish the Joseph Ballay Center for Design Fusion(opens in new window), which will focus on cross-disciplinary problem-solving. Ballay was joined by his family both virtually (wife, Sue; and daughter, Kate, via Zoom) and in person (son, Jamie; daughter-in-law, Ilse; grandson, Kozar; and granddaughter Klara.

School of Design Head Bruce Hanington(opens in new window) welcomed the crowd who came to honor Ballay, who also served as a faculty member, head of the school and is now a professor emeritus. Many former students, several classmates and colleagues at CMU and MAYA Design (which Ballay co-founded) were in attendance. "The Ballay Center," Hanington said, "will truly be the front door of the School of Design."

Following a dedication video, Ballay thanked those gathered for being there and said he was overwhelmed by seeing so many friends. He also offered his gratitude for his CMU education.

"The great thing about CMU is, you don't have to ask permission to do great things when you're here," he said. "You just do them."

He said he looks forward to being part of the future projects that take place within the center.

"I'm sure that, through the center, we will teach great things," he said. "I chose to contribute to a vision that's shared through a transdisciplinary process, because sharing those ideas really solves problems. We're going to be learning a lot ourselves, and that's a good thing."

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