After reaching his 12-year term limit as dean of the School of Design, Gary Hack will be stepping down this summer. The search for his replacement is currently under way, with Engineering Dean Eduardo Glandt GCh’75 Gr’77 heading up the hunt.
Hack will leave his school in substantially different shape than he found it. In 1996, Penn Design’s city-planning department had shriveled to the point that its closure had already been announced. Under Hack, it has undergone a revival to become one of the top programs of its kind in the country. Meanwhile, the birth and growth of Penn Praxis, the school’s consulting arm, have enabled students and faculty to carry out real-world urban design projects ranging from Taiwan to Philadelphia’s Delaware River waterfront [“Gazetteer,” Jan|Feb].
The school has also branched out from its traditional focus on graduate education. “Today, one-third of our teaching is for undergraduates,” Hack said in a recent interview. “That’s a big change, and a good change for the school.”
At the same time, it has broadened and deepened ties with other parts of the University. “We now have two faculty who have joint appointments with Wharton,” Hack said, “and we have two other faculty who have joint appointments in Arts and Sciences … We’ve created a whole new cadre of people who are called professors in practice, who are distinguished practitioners who spend part of their time with us. We’ve used that to attract some of the very best people in their fields.”
Much of this has put Penn Design right in the middle of the University’s general push toward interdisciplinary study. The Real Estate Design & Development program, which sprang from an alliance with Wharton, is about to turn 10 years old. More recently, the school joined Wharton and Engineering to launch a master’s program in industrial design.
All in all, these changes have produced one unambiguous measurement of academic health: growth. During Hack’s tenure, the School of Design has doubled the size of its student body.