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VPA Advisory Council member, former professor establishes $1M endowed professor of practice in design innovation

April 01, 2011

Erica Blust
(315) 443-5891

Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) has announced the creation of the Iris Magidson Professor of Practice in Design Innovation. The professorship, which will be based in the college’s Department of Design, was established through a $1 million commitment from Iris Magidson ’64, a VPA alumna, former professor and current member of the college’s advisory council.

magidsonThe college plans to appoint the Iris Magidson Professor of Practice in Design Innovation prior to the fall 2011 semester, when the position will commence. The ideal recipient will be an active design professional who practices interdisciplinary application to design. The professorship will have an emphasis on teaching graduate-level courses.

“The establishment of the Magidson Professor of Practice is a monumental moment for the college,” says VPA Dean Ann Clarke. “It is our first fully endowed faculty position and the first step toward our Campaign for Syracuse University goal to increase the number of endowed chairs and professorships across the college by five. We are truly grateful to Iris for making this commitment to the college, to design innovation and to interdisciplinary study.”

“My goal is to help design students become more aware of real-world demands by bringing a practicing professional to campus,” says Magidson. “My hope is to see design thinking used in fresh, new ways. I have been most fortunate and wish to share my enthusiasm for design education.”

Magidson graduated from VPA with a bachelor of fine arts degree in advertising design. Thirty-six years later, she returned to SU as a full-time professor to teach communications design from 2000-06. At SU, she used her business background to pioneer multidisciplinary projects that brought real clients into the classroom.

Prior to teaching at the University, Magidson first worked for design consulting offices and then for Clairol Inc., where she worked on Clairol and parent company Bristol-Myers Squibb’s domestic and worldwide businesses from 1969-1995, initially as a designer and then as a design director.

Magidson possesses in-depth knowledge of and experience with all aspects of strategic brand development. Concurrently, she has worked as a visual communications consultant with her own firm since 1970. She now uses her skills and experience to help not-for-profit organizations, volunteering in New York City and Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Counted in The Campaign for Syracuse University total, the Magidson gift will be bolstered through Faculty Today, a gift challenge program created to encourage donors to endow faculty chairs and professorships. Designed to accelerate the University’s ability to recruit and retain worldclass faculty, Faculty Today will supplement the Iris Magidson Professor of Practice in Design Innovation for the first five years. The Faculty Today program was developed by the SU Board of Trustees, which allocated $30 million from the University’s endowment in support of this initiative. To learn more about Faculty Today and view a progress report, visit

With a goal of $1 billion, The Campaign for Syracuse University is the most ambitious fundraising effort in SU’s history. By supporting faculty excellence, student access, interdisciplinary programs, capital projects and other institutional priorities, the campaign is continuing to drive Scholarship in Action, the University’s vision to provide students, faculty and communities with the insights needed to incite positive and lasting change in the world. Officially launched in November 2007 with a goal of $1 billion, the five-year effort has raised a total of over $856 million with less than two years left to achieve the $1 billion campaign goal. More information is available online at

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