Last week, faculty and staff of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design were devastated to learn of the sudden passing of Alumna Lauren Chapman Ruiz (MDes ’11) on September 29th. Ruiz was a Sr. UX Designer at John Muir Health, a not-for-profit health system in the Bay Area of California, and was a Senior Lecturer in Interaction Design at the California College of Arts.
“Lauren will be remembered for her dedication to teaching excellence,” said Kristian Simsarian, Head of Design at the California College of Arts. “In Lauren's teaching statement her passion is evident:
‘In an increasingly complex and frightful world, tomorrow’s designers dream of making a difference. However, the experiences, products, and services designers create too frequently leave room for harmful impacts on people’s lives. Care and courage are necessary to ensure that a designer’s work will benefit people once it freely exists in the world. My creative and educational philosophies center on the fact that designers can make a difference, especially when they apply courage and empathy developed in diverse contexts to their work.’
“She proved to me that it was not years of experience that were critical to this task, but dedication and growth mindset to do whatever it took to deliver excellence for students and colleagues,” continued Simsarian. “She was one of the youngest, but also one of the most impactful teachers I have ever worked with.
“Lauren was a joyful, generous and loving person whom I will miss very much.”
For those of us at Carnegie Mellon, Ruiz’s dedication and spirit are still remembered to this very day.
“Lauren was an incredibly special person,” said Stacie Rohrbach, Associate Professor and Chair of the Communication Design Program. “She could always make others smile by enthusiastically sharing her vast knowledge and love of design, by offering encouragement to her peers and students with sincerity, and by simply taking time to fully engage in conversations as it was clear that she truly valued human connections. I thank Lauren for touching my life and the lives of others in such positive ways."
Ruiz’s graduate thesis, “Design for chronic illness: exploring service systems & new technologies for patients with type 2 diabetes,” was advised by Carnegie Mellon University’s Suguru Ishizaki.
“I am so deeply saddened to hear the news of Lauren's passing, said Ishizaki. “She was always such a pleasure to work with, and was also an excellent designer who could approach complex problems with an open mind, and use human-centered design to explore potential solutions.”
“Lauren was a much beloved student and alumna, full of life, an enthusiastic designer and educator and staunch advocate for the School,” added Bruce Hanington, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies. “Her passion for design shone through in her work, and her projects continued to serve as examples for successor students long after her graduation. She lit up a room with an infectious positive energy that she brought to her classmates, friends, and faculty.
“The deep impression Lauren made on the School and on the many lives she touched will carry forward in all our memories.”
Even outside her academic pursuits, Ruiz’s presence was felt and loved throughout the School of Design.
“Lauren and I became fast friends from the very beginning," said Jane Ditmore, Receptionist at the School of Design. "It started when she was here as a first year master student and we remained friends throughout her marriage to Miguel, her first child Elizabeth and chatted recently about the arrival of her new daughter expected in October. No matter how busy she was she always made time to chat with me and ask how I was doing! She was a beautiful woman inside and out and always had a kind word for everyone she knew. I am deeply saddened and grieving the loss of a dear personal friend.
“Her wonderful and gentle soul will remain in our hearts forever.”
Ruiz is survived by her husband Miguel, and her two daughters Elizabeth and Samantha. Everyone at the School of Design extends our deepest condolences to her colleagues, friends, and loved ones.