This week, we begin a new tradition at the School of Visual Arts: the MFA in Interaction Design program — a graduate-level program with an inaugural class of 18 remarkable students and 25 faculty members. This tradition carries forward a long-standing tradition started in 1947 by Silas Rhodes and Burne Hogarth who founded the Cartoonists and Illustrators School with just three faculty members and 35 students. Then, they created a model whereby faculty were working professionals and courses were held at night. This model allowed students to work during the days, brushing up on professional skills if desired.
We continue this tradition today. Students have come from across the country and the world to join us in this first-year program, to build a new tradition, but to continue that one set forth by the school’s founders more than 60 years ago. The curriculum will give students a grounding in “design fundamentals, while helping them cultivate the soft skills so often required in the modern workplace: strategic thinking, entrepreneurship, ethics, and communicating with clients.”
To that end, design is what we’ve come this far to do, and what we’ll carry forward after we leave. The pursuit of it involves unique skills crucial to shaping experiences and creating lasting value in our society. I’m looking forward to watching this group build on their skills over the next couple of years — and our program both carrying forward a tradition and charting some new ones of our own.