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Department Chair, Human-Centered Design

Cornell University
Ithaca, New York
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Date posted
Mar 6, 2024

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Position Type
Faculty Positions, Arts
Employment Type
Full Time

Department Chair, Human-Centered Design

College of Human Ecology, Cornell University


The Department of Human Centered Design at Cornell University invites applications for the position of full-time department chairperson at the advanced associate or full professor level, based in Ithaca NY. This leadership role presents a unique opportunity for an accomplished, interdisciplinary design scholar. This is an exciting time of growth and development for a newly-merged department with a long history of design education, innovative scholarship, community and industry engagement, creative practice, and pedagogical impact as leaders in design fields. 


College of Human Ecology (CHE)

Cornell Human Ecology brings together a wide range of perspectives to understand the full context of the human experience and improve lives at every scale, from cells to society. Our research and academic programs focus on the interaction of humans with their biological, economic, social, and physical environments. Using Cornell's far-reaching extension network and the college's translational research methods, we deliver our findings directly to communities, families, and policy makers, ensuring that our work reaches those who need it most.


CHE is one of four contract colleges at Cornell University (operated by Cornell under contract with New York state). The college is home to over 1,000 undergrads and nearly 200 graduate students, 120 faculty members, and 140 staff members. The college’s academic units include the Department of Human Centered Design, the Division of Nutritional Sciences, and the Department of Psychology. The college also houses the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, the Action Research Collaborative, and the Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures. Along with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the college administers the Cornell Cooperative Extension, with offices in each county in New York and every borough of New York City.


Department of Human Centered Design 

The Department of Human Centered Design (HCD enriches people and their environments through transdisciplinary research, teaching, and outreach. We integrate analog and digital knowledge, tools, methods and creative processes from design, humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences to address real-world challenges. Faculty and students conceptualize, prototype and evaluate products and processes that enhance human potential, well-being and community. Our graduates possess the tools, skills and strategies to become industry leaders, visionary academics and pioneering practitioners. 


As part of Cornell University, a world-class research university and a partner of the State University of New York, HCD faculty have the knowledge and resources to cross fields and disciplines to enhance human thriving. We produce cutting edge knowledge and are deeply committed to using that knowledge to make a difference in people’s lives. The department has 32 faculty members, some with dual appointments that enrich our transdisciplinary approach to design.


Located in Ithaca, NY, the department has state-of-the-art equipment and facilities including studios, labs, two fabrication studios, a design materials library, 3D body scanner and multiple gallery spaces. It is a department and college priority to enhance student, faculty and alumni connections to New York City.


The department currently has 78 graduate students in eight distinct graduate programs: M.A. in Apparel Design, Ph.D. in Apparel Design, M.A. in Design, M.S. in Fiber Science, Ph.D. in Fiber Science, M.S. in Human Environment Relations, Ph.D. in Human Behavior and Design, and MPS in Human Ecology. HCD has an enrollment of 187 undergraduate students and three different majors: Design + Environmental Analysis, Fashion Design and Fashion Design Management, and Fiber Science. The department also offers five minors: Design + Environmental Analysis, Design Innovation & Strategy, Fashion Studies, Fiber Science, and Healthy Futures. Our global student body and esteemed faculty are an engaging and diverse academic community.


Candidate Profile 

The successful candidate will be a visionary leader attuned to the innovative directions of design both in academia and practice and be willing to push us into the future, while holding close our legacy of design education excellence and dedication to people and planet.  They should have demonstrated their ability to turn vision into reality, and to transcend traditional academic boundaries to lead a design program that addresses contemporary social/environmental challenges through a people-centered approach. The candidate should have leadership experience and demonstrated commitment to social and climate justice and an eagerness to participate in radical collaborations, community-engaged projects, and translational research. The chairperson will prioritize creating an inclusive space where all voices are heard and respected, fostering an environment where our diverse team can collaborate effectively and reach their full potential.


Qualifications: We seek an individual with the following qualifications:

Academic Credentials:

  • A PhD in any relevant field Internationally recognized as a leading scholar in the realm of design or at the intersection of design and other relevant fields A distinguished record of scholarship and teaching excellence. Evidence of excellence in interdisciplinary education and student mentoring.


Leadership Experience:

  • Demonstrated success in academic leadership, including experience in administrative roles. Evidence of ability to bridge different disciplines and approaches to research and teaching. Plans to promote and support faculty research initiatives. Foster a culture of excellence, inclusivity, and collaboration in teaching, research, and service.


Community and Industry Engagement:

  • Strong connections to industry and/or practice and policy. We expect a track record of successful collaboration with external partners. Works beyond the university walls to engage with current events and stakeholders. Deep appreciation for and understanding of diverse disciplines.


Innovation and Vision:

  • Forward-thinking and innovative mindset, with the ability to anticipate and respond to trends in design and related fields. Drive initiatives to integrate emerging technologies and methodologies into research and teaching.


Commitment to Social and Climate Justice:

  • Commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive academic environment. Ability to view design through a human-centric lens, recognizing its inclusive nature. Passion for advocating and advancing the department's unique position and potential.



Interested individuals should submit the following items via this link:


  • A letter of interest, up to 3 pages, specifying how the candidate’s skills and experiences align with the required qualifications and search objectives; A CV that highlights notable achievements; The names and contact information for five (5) references. (References’ information must be provided at the time of application, but these people will not be contacted without notifying the applicant in advance); A description of approaches to working in a diverse community. We ask applicants for all faculty positions to share their experiences and/or approaches (past, current, or future) to fostering learning, research, service, and/or outreach in a diverse community. Applicants may choose to submit a stand-alone statement or embed the information in other parts of their application materials.


Applications will be reviewed and considered on a rolling basis.


For questions regarding this search, please send an email to the HCD Chair Search Committee at


For more information about the department, The College of Human Ecology and Cornell University, please visit:

Human Centered Design, Cornell College of Human Ecology, College of Human Ecology, Cornell College of Human Ecology, Cornell University


Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, and we do not tolerate discrimination based on any protected characteristic, including race, ethnic or national origin, citizenship and immigration status, color, sex/gender, pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions, age, creed, religion, actual or perceived disability (including persons associated with such a person), arrest and/or conviction record, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, gender expression and/or identity, an individual’s genetic information, domestic violence victim status, familial status, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local law. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations in accordance with applicable law.


Cornell University embraces diversity and seeks candidates who will contribute to a climate that supports students, faculty, and staff to all identities and backgrounds. We encourage individuals from underrepresented and/or marginalized identities to apply. GADVID:655294

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