The following is a Jan. 23 press release from the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, announcing its inaugural class of University Fellows, which includes San Francisco-based Studio O founder Liz Ogbu.
The University of Virginia today announced the launch of a new University Fellows program, which will bring expert practitioners to Grounds to engage with the UVA community on today’s most challenging problems and inspiring opportunities.
The University Fellows come from a wide variety of fields and areas of interest, and will be hosted for one semester each, either in residence or as a commuter, by a UVA school. Nominated by school deans in coordination with the offices of the President and the Provost, up to five fellows will be selected each semester and appointed by President Jim Ryan.
During their time on Grounds, fellows will host small, focused discussions with students in their home schools as well as larger community-wide events to broadly share their experience and promote thoughtful discussion. They will also hold regular office hours with students.
“The academic environment at UVA is part of what makes this place special, and the University Fellows program is another way for students to explore interests and learn from leaders and practitioners at the top of their fields,” Ryan said. “The fellows program will bring experts from media, business, arts, medicine, politics and science to Grounds, and will ensure students have meaningful opportunities to engage with them. I’m excited to see our fellows inspire new avenues of inquiry and discussion and to welcome them to our community.”
UVA also announced that two University Fellows, Liz Ogbu and Greg Olsen, have been selected for the program’s inaugural semester.
Hosted by the School of Architecture, designer, urbanist and spatial justice activist Ogbu aims to transform urban environments for spatial and racial justice. In 2012, she founded Studio O, a design and innovation consulting firm, and has worked with a range of clients, schools and organizations to shape urban design that catalyzes sustained social impact. She has been a featured lecturer and writer for a wealth of outlets, including TED, The New York Times and the Journal of Urban Design.
Ogbu previously worked with UVA as the Visiting Porter Chair in Urban and Environmental Planning for the School of Architecture for the spring 2017 semester and as an advisory board member of the Design Futures Forum, hosted by the school in summer 2022. Since 2015, with Studio O, she has worked closely with Piedmont Housing Alliance on a resident-driven redevelopment strategy for Friendship Court, an affordable housing complex in Charlottesville. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in architecture from Wellesley College and a Master of Architecture degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.
“We are thrilled to host Liz Ogbu as an inaugural University Fellow this spring and to support the significant partnerships she has already built in the Charlottesville and UVA communities, including with the Equity Center, the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center and the Piedmont Housing Alliance,” School of Architecture Dean Malo A. Hutson said. “Liz and her practice Studio O are a model for our students and faculty on effective methods toward spatial justice that leverage the power of design to foster environments that support people’s capacity to thrive.”
Olsen, hosted by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, established a long career as a research scientist and entrepreneur. His commitment to providing science and engineering learning opportunities and encouragement to students – chiefly women and minority youth – has been fundamental throughout his work.
Olsen founded two multimillion businesses, holds 12 patents, has written more than 100 technical papers, and has been a featured lecturer for many technical and trade journal gatherings. He was the third private citizen to travel aboard the International Space Station, where he orbited Earth more than 150 times in 10 days.
Olsen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics, a B.S. in electrical engineering, and a Master of Science degree in physics from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He also earned a Ph.D. in materials science from UVA in 1971. He founded and currently serves on the External Advisory Board of the UVA Department of Materials Science and Engineering and is an active member of the UVA Alumni Association.
“We are excited to welcome Greg Olsen to the School of Engineering and Applied Science this spring as an inaugural University Fellow,” Dean Jennifer L. West said. “Greg’s deep connections with our students, faculty and school community over the years, through programs such as the Olsen Fellows, are evidence of his dedication to developing engineering leaders with a commitment to societal impact.”
Suggestions for fellow candidates may be sent to school deans, who will continue to make nominations to President Ryan.