Patrick O'Leary

On Jan. 13, Thomas Fisher, Assoc. AIA, announced that he will be stepping down as dean of the University of Minnesota's College of Design at the end of the semester to become the Dayton Hudson Land Grant Chair in Urban Design and director of the university's Metropolitan Design Center.

Fisher, an ARCHITECT contributor and a professor in the university's architecture school, became the college's inaugural dean in 2006, after serving for the prior decade as dean of the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

"Under his leadership, the college has expanded its programs to become one of the most comprehensive design schools in the country and a hub for socially responsible and engaged research and practice," said Karen Hanson, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, in a letter to faculty, staff, and students. "Tom has worked with faculty, staff, and students to build interdisciplinary collaborations, to develop innovative uses of digital technology, and to make the college more integrated, flexible, and student-centered."

Fisher will continue working in his current position through June to facilitate a smooth transition to an interim dean, who will serve in the coming fiscal year before the college selects a permanent dean.

"As cities in the U.S. encounter dramatic changes—demographic shifts, environmental stresses, and economic disparities—we need to redesign many of the systems that we have inherited from the 20th century that no longer work well or that have come to the end of their useful life," says Fisher. "At the Metropolitan Design Center, we look at these systems as an integrated continuum ranging from transportation, infrastructure, and open space to the delivery of services, experiences, and information—all of which constitute urban design in the 21st century."

Read Fisher’s ARCHITECT articles here.