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Provost Announcement: Robert Somol Appointed Interim Dean of the College of Architecture and the Arts

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Robert Somol as Interim Dean of the College of Architecture and the Arts (soon to be Architecture, Design, and the Arts), effective January 1, pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. This follows the announcement by Judith Russi Kirshner that she will return to the faculty at the end of this year after a long and accomplished tenure as dean.

An internationally recognized design theorist, Professor Somol was appointed Professor and Director of the School of Architecture in 2007. Prior to this position, he was a tenured professor at both the Ohio State University and the University of California at Los Angeles, and held visiting professorships as the Jean Labatut Professor at Princeton University, the Max Fishman Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan and the Cullinan Professor at Rice University.

Since arriving at UIC in 2007 Professor Somol has led the School through a period of transformational change and renewal. Retirements and resignations necessitated the recruitment of sixteen faculty and three staff. The School made significant revisions to the MArch and MS programs, and the MArch program subsequently received the maximum six-year accreditation renewal from the National Architectural Accrediting Board.  The curriculum was further updated with major revisions to the BS in Architecture and the implementation of new programs including an MA in Design Criticism, a BA in Architectural Studies, a Berlin study abroad program, and non-credit programs including the successful YArch summer program. Alumni donations founded the Frank A. Szilvasy Fund and the Patrick A. Daly Fund in Architecture.

The School produced its first catalog since 1997, redesigned its website, and expanded its public programming by hosting an annual evening lecture series and several national conferences. To keep its facilities contemporary with the renewed curriculum, the School opened the Digital Lab housing a 3D printer and two laser cutters, began retooling the School of Architecture Print Center, and upgraded numerous studios, meeting rooms, and offices.

Professor Somol is a former member of the Research Board of the Berlage Institute and served as the Academic Director on the AIA Illinois Board of Directors in 2012. He is the editor of Autonomy and Ideology (Monacelli Press, 1997) and has served on the editorial boards of Copyright, Any, Log, and the forthcoming journal Flat Out. His writings have appeared in publications ranging from Assemblage to Wired, and focus on modernism and its modes of repetition, the emergence of the diagram in postwar architecture, interior urbanism, and the development of graphic or cartoon protocols within contemporary architectural practices. As a founding principal of PXS in Los Angeles (1995-2005), Professor Somol was the co-designer of "off-use," an award-winning studio and residence in Los Angeles, as well the office's second place entry for the San Jose State University Museum of Art + Design. In addition to service on national professional and academic juries, he has served as the Chair of the UIC Design Review Committee and as a member of the Campus Master Plan Committee.

Please join me in congratulating Robert Somol on his new appointment.  A search committee for the permanent dean has already met to begin work and will be announced shortly.


Lon S. Kaufman
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost

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