UIC School of Design appoints new director

Anne H. Berry, director of the School of Design.
Anne Berry. (Photo: Stuart Meade)

The School of Design at the University of Illinois Chicago has appointed Anne Berry as its new director. A practicing designer, writer and educator, Berry has advanced research on representation and diversity in design, as well as ethnic and racial disparities in the field.

In her new role, Berry will continue to amplify design’s social impact and advocate for equity and inclusion to a student body that is uniquely diverse in its culture, socioeconomic background and national origin. Berry comes to UIC from Cleveland State University, another urban public institution, where she teaches in the art and design department. She will join UIC in July, pending approval of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

“Over the course of my time in higher education, I have seen the variety of ways in which access to public education has transformed people’s lives,” Berry said. “Being able to serve the exceptionally diverse student population and campus community at UIC in a new capacity as director, alongside design faculty and staff who are equally passionate about education, is an extraordinary opportunity. I feel privileged to be able to help shape and advance the mission of the school as we prepare students to actively engage with the world around them.”

As an established thought leader in the field, Berry brings more than 20 years of expertise and cutting-edge work in design to UIC. She is finishing her term as president of AIGA Cleveland, the Cleveland chapter of the professional design association, and she was a Design Incubation Fellow in 2018. Berry has written for and edited many publications, including “The Black Experience in Design: Identity, Expression & Reflection,” published in February 2022, for which she was managing editor. The book, included in Fast Company’s “Best Design Books of 2022,” examines how more than 70 designers, artists, curators, educators, students and researchers from a wide cross section of Black diasporic identities and multidisciplinary practices have shaped their field professionally and aesthetically.

“Anne Berry is a leading voice in the field, an outstanding graphic designer and a passionate educator who will work collaboratively with our faculty of renowned professional designers to equip students with the formal, conceptual and technical skills necessary to make their ideas real and make a difference in a professional setting,” said Rebecca Rugg, dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts.

Berry’s research, plus her dedication to training the next generation of designers, has propelled important conversations in the field. In 2021, Berry and collaborator Sarah Edmands Martin created their award-winning project, “Ongoing Matter: Democracy, Design, and the Mueller Report,” which emphasized the importance of designers in a democracy. Focusing on the abundance of information in the “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election,” Berry and Martin highlighted the importance of making information accessible and understandable to the public.

Berry’s writing has been published in several graphic design journals and magazines, including “The Virtual Design Classroom” for Communication Arts magazine; “The Black Designer’s Identity” for the inaugural issue of the Recognize anthology, featuring commentary from Indigenous people and people of color; and the co-authored article “The Intersection of Electoral Politics and Design Education” for the international design research journal Message. In 2021, Berry was featured in Kelly Walters’ book, “Black, Brown + Latinx Design Educators: Conversations on Design and Race.”

Berry continues to practice professionally as a graphic designer, designing identities, exhibitions and print collateral for a wide range of clients. She previously spent eight years as a principal at LightBox Studio, a creative studio in downtown Goshen, Indiana, which she co-founded.

“Berry’s strengths shone among the outstanding candidates,” said Sung Jang, co-chair of the search committee and associate professor of industrial design. “The search committee was impressed by her proactive poise to navigating the evolving world, drawing on the perspective of an energetic designer with remarkable leadership. Berry effortlessly aligns with the personality and culture of UIC.”

Berry, whose background is in the arts, has exhibited her work in individual and group exhibitions throughout her career. Most recently, she co-created and co-curated an exhibition for her “Ongoing Matter” project that traveled to Indiana, Ohio and California. Another of her exhibitions, “Making Waves: Civil Rights and the South Bend Natatorium,” is part of the permanent collection currently on view at the Civil Rights Heritage Center in South Bend, Indiana.

As director, Berry will work closely with the dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts; leadership from the School of Architecture; and with UIC design faculty, staff and administration on all aspects of the school’s operation across its programs in graphic design, industrial design, design studies and computer science and design. Her role will also include fostering and strengthening relationships in and outside the field that promote the school’s pursuit to innovate in the conceptualization and creation of new, impactful ideas.

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