Difference is design



South Dakota State’s innovative School of Design started July 1. The school will contain five fields of study—architecture, graphic design, interior design, landscape architecture and studio arts. First-year students will enroll in collaborative design studies that focus on design thinking, creativity and professional exploration that create a unique pathway for them to explore design interests before beginning their second year.

The School of Design will be part of the College of Arts and Sciences and have its own director, department coordinators and faculty. The departments that were housed in other colleges will become part of the College of Arts and Sciences. Tim Steele, who has been the department head of the visual arts department, will be the director of the School of Design.

“The goal is to produce a superior product that provides both students and faculty a high quality academic experience that no individual unit would be able to provide,” said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dennis Papini. “The new school aligns with the needs of today’s students. This is something we’ve been talking about as a college for several years.”


Landscape Architecture

By incorporating strong ties to industry and a commitment to socially responsible design, the school will contribute to the vitality and well-being of South Dakota and the region.

“The School of Design model will allow engaged learning through stronger and better coordinated programs,” said SDSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Laurie Nichols. “Faculty will more readily share expertise and work closely together. The new unit will facilitate accreditation and professionally oriented curricula. We look forward to greatly enhanced visibility for these programs as well.

“This doesn’t happen every day where we form a new school at SDSU. It’ll be interesting to see what it becomes over time. I’m really excited about it,” continued Nichols. “It’s the right thing to do for our students.”

Studio Arts

Studio Arts

State started an interim model, the division of design, in January 2014. Following internal reviews, there was a recommendation to pursue a school of design.

The school’s curriculum will include a set of core first-year courses for all majors in the School of Design—a common introduction to the university, introduction to design theory and practice, a creativity course and later an upper-level course to work on collaborative design projects.

“Previously, students who were interested in design picked a major, maybe without the knowledge of the other design opportunities available,” Steele said. “Students can discover each design major’s offerings and be able to tailor their educational experience to their interests based upon that.

“I strongly believe this collaboration will bring more students to SDSU. Right now, they are going out of state to receive more professional degrees from other schools of design—they can now get that in South Dakota. Design is one of the economic engines that drives our economy,” continued Steele. “South Dakota can now participate in this engine. It is all about growth and moving forward.”


Graphic Design

Students currently enrolled in one of the fields will be able to remain on their current graduation track if desired, or explore opportunities to collaborate with the other fields of study. Faculty in the School of Design will continue in their current areas of expertise, but will enhance educational opportunities through collaboration with other design disciplines.

“The school will offer recognized and accredited programs that prepare graduates for professional licenses and entry-level careers in the five different fields of study,” Papini said.

The School of Design model will allow for national accreditation, engaged learning through stronger and better coordinated programs, and extends the reach and depth of the university through programs and

Interior Design

Interior Design

collaborations—three of the four areas mentioned in IMPACT 2018, the university’s strategic plan.

In addition, the School of Design will allow Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees to be awarded in architecture, graphic design, interior design and studio art, and a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree for inc

oming and some current students. Current students in these programs may choose to continue pursuing Bachelor of Science degrees offered in three colleges.

“Students can now be put into a culture of design, working with like-minded students in a rich environment that fosters creativity,” said Don Burger, an assistant professor in landscape architecture. “They will be better designers because

of their involvement in the School of Design. For example, both the interior design and architecture programs work on community projects where their skill paths cross often. Bringing students and faculty together into one place allows for better communication and collaboration.”

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