A Message from the Head of School to Our School of Design Community

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Students, Parents, Staff, Faculty, Alumni, Friends, and Prospective Students,

A few short weeks ago we did not foresee moving our entire curriculum to remote delivery and learning. Yet since that time and with relatively little notice, our incredible team of faculty, staff, and students, with the support of CMU leadership and alongside every department on campus, made it happen. More impressive than speed is the integrity of action. As a community we took on the challenge of remote education not only with resolve, but with a positive energy, and from many, even a sense of excitement for the possibilities afforded by new technologies and unique forms of collaboration, despite the conditions that brought us to this point.

This is not to understate the enormity of what took place, and continues to unfold, nor the disappointment that some of you may be feeling. For students, you have each faced unique and varied circumstances with strength, deciding where to go, packing up or staying put, many of you unexpectedly moving home, and all of you figuring out how remote education will work for you, in new environments and across multiple time zones. Amidst the stories of uncertainty and fears, I have heard incredible words of support and care for each other, and for the wider Design community. The genuine concern you have expressed for your own education and that of your peers is touching and inspiring, and serves as the primary motivation for what we do.

For faculty and staff, as always, I am in awe of your amazing dedication, fortitude, and creativity. Despite the challenges set in front of you to manage within record time, you picked up and worked hard individually and as a collective of peers, asking bright and relevant questions, but ultimately making the most of what was handed to you. The particular nuances of design education such as personal and community engagement, physical materiality, and face to face collaboration, have been recast for remote interactions, yet are now already in their second week of successful delivery. Our School will continue providing an absolute first-class education to our students, no matter how different it may be from the shared presence we normally enjoy together in the studio environment. 

To our alumni community, we are grateful for your participation in the life of the School and the ongoing support you offer us in various ways. We know that you may each be experiencing your own challenges, and we welcome your stories. Our students appreciate your mentorship through your active outreach, and gracious acceptance of their contact with you for advice, internships and career placements, and professional perspective, now more than ever in these uncertain times. 

For prospective students and your parents, we assure you that through this test of our resolve, our School is committed to working with you with the same vigor that we have always brought to design education, and our care for each of you. I am sure you will have questions beyond the ordinary as you contemplate the next step in your education. Please, reach out to us for conversation and answers. 

Design is a discipline built on problem seeking and solving. Sometimes we don't have to look very far for problems; other times, like now, they are thrust upon us. We will be remote from each other by circumstance, but together by choice of our shared interests in design, and how we might learn from each other through adversity and opportunity. We have an advantage here as designers, all of us. This is what we do. We design the products, communications, and environments for positive experiences. We design for interactions and services and sociability. We identify problems, and we work in creative, collaborative ways to prototype our ideas, test them, and find meaningful solutions.

I would be remiss here if I did not reinforce the need for everyone, everywhere, to please take care and stay healthy. Be wise in social distancing, while still being supportive. Be patient and kind with yourself and each other.

Thank you for your incredible support and for being a vital part of this community. I feel privileged to be in this role, and am indebted to you all.


Bruce Hanington
Head, School of Design

Date Published: 
Thursday, March 26, 2020
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