University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN


Dean Tom Fisher and Architecture Head Renee Cheng Honored as Top 25 Design Educators in the Country

By Design at Minnesota
Nov 7, '11 9:02 PM EST

University of Minnesota, College of Design Dean Tom Fisher and Architecture Head, Professor Renee Cheng, have been recognized as two of the top 25 most admired design educators for 2012 by DesignIntelligence (DI) magazine. DI selects educators from the disciplines of architecture, interior design, industrial design and landscape architecture who exemplify excellence in design education leadership. The graduate programs for landscape architecture and interior design were also ranked among the most admired of their kind in the country.

This is the fourth time Fisher has received this recognition (2008-2010), and the second time for Cheng (2011). It is a unique distinction for two faculty members from the same institution to be on the top 25 list at the same time. This is the third time, and second year in a row, for the College of Design. Interior Design Professor Denise Guerin was honored in 2009 and 2011.

"DesignIntelligence has become a primary source for evaluating American architecture and design programs, and I am honored to be ranked among the top 25 educators by that publication this year," said Fisher. "Our College is one of the most comprehensive in the country, and these rankings say a lot about the quality of our faculty and the educational experience here."

Fisher is a leader in the public-interest design movement, and a long-time researcher and advocate for using design to tackle the major economic, environmental, and societal challenges facing the world. Recognized as one of the most published academics in his field, Fisher is the author of six books, 45 book chapters and over 250 major articles. His new book, due out in early 2013, is entitled: Designing to Avoid Disaster: The Nature of Fracture-Critical Design.

"I am deeply grateful to be listed alongside Tom on this list," said Cheng. "However, what I appreciate most is the synergy we generate on a daily basis as we guide forward-looking programs and innovative research brought to life by the excellent students and faculty at the School of Architecture. We each teach critically important courses in the professional program which together instigate rich dialogue about the past, present and future of architecture - generating critical questions that permeate throughout the School."

Cheng's recognition on this list for the second year in a row is for good reason. She has led the School of Architecture in a direction that builds upon its already successful undergraduate and graduate degree programs in order to take advantage of new opportunities in the design and architectural professions.

The School's flagship, the professional M. Arch degree, was restructured to allow three distinct and complementary types of design studio teaching:

  • Large fall studios with integrated technical courses;
  • Nimble and changeable spring options configured to intensively dive deeply into critical topics;
  • One week catalyst workshops that address issues not commonly seen in architecture programs - from tackling urgent needs in society, to using new media or emerging technologies.

The new Bachelor of Design in Architecture (BDA) program gives students broader choice in design workshops to best suit their interest. Also, the graduate Master of Science in Architecture, Sustainable Design Track, integrates research and design in an approach that embraces the holistic understanding of sustainable design. This MS Arch program is one of only two in the country recognized by the Fulbright scholars program for its excellence.

The graduate landscape architecture program ranked among the most admired "For its community engagement, strong environmental focus, and scholarship aligned with education."

The interior design graduate program was chosen "For its strong research and reputation."

To view the press release from the University of Minnesota, please click here. For more on Dean Fisher, Professor Cheng, the architecture, landscape architecture and interior design programs, or anything at the College of Design, visit us online at