UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY –Director, School of Interiors: Planning, Strategy, Design

Director, School of Interiors:

Planning, Strategy, Design



The University of Kentucky (UK) invites applications and nominations for the position of Director of the School of Interiors.  This position provides a unique opportunity for an accomplished leader to build upon the School’s strengths and to shape and influence the future direction of the School through enrollment growth, development of new programs, and occupancy of a new building.


The Position of Director


The School of Interiors, within the College of Design at the University of Kentucky, is currently poised for significant growth and change. Under the College’s new leadership, we are in the design phase of a new state-of-the-art facility, with a directive to expand design education at the University through the addition of new design programs and new faculty lines across the College. The University of Kentucky School of Interiors seeks a forward-thinking academic leader, who can leverage the School’s reputation and strengths alongside new, unprecedented opportunities for growth to advance our program towards an outstanding future. In Fall of 2022, the School of Interiors, with the entire College, will occupy the new building. The College of Design has partnered with world-renowned architect and MacArthur Fellow, Jeanne Gang for this adaptive reuse project of the Reynolds Building, a 140,000-square-foot former tobacco warehouse. This building was first built in 1917 and is located in a growing innovation district on the boundary of city and campus, which includes the School of Art and Visual Studies, the College of Education, and room for future campus development.


The Director, who reports to the Dean of the College of Design, is responsible for the overall academic, administrative, and fiscal leadership of the School of Interiors.  The Director will provide leadership in defining the strategic priorities and vision for the School and to enhance its visibility, brand, and reputation.  In this role, the Director will be responsible for continuing to advance and strengthen degree programs; foster excellence in teaching, research, and engagement; increase the School’s enrollment; continue the advancement of innovation and multidisciplinary activities; and increase the School’s financial resources.  The Director should promote a diverse work and learning environment that fosters entrepreneurship, growth, collaboration, and shared governance.

Specifically, these responsibilities include:

  • Overseeing the operational and fiscal management of the School;
  • continually evaluating the effectiveness of courses, the program and curriculum;
  • developing schedules and faculty teaching assignments;
  • recruiting new faculty, making recommendations to the Dean regarding faculty appointments, promotions and dismissals;
  • overseeing the faculty performance review process, and clearly communicating to faculty the specific University and College policies that inform the process;
  • actively guiding faculty members through the tenure/promotion process and supporting their ongoing efforts to advance scholarly and creative activities;
  • inspiring morale and ensuring that all faculty are offered privileges and responsibilities appropriate to their rank;
  • overseeing the ongoing assessment, development and implementation of the School, College and University Strategic Plans;
  • participating in the development and implementation of College policies, procedures and guidelines;
  • establishing and evaluating School policies and procedures;
  • representing the School and College to external constituencies including alumni, members of the interior design profession, other university units and potential donors;
  • identifying and pursuing external funding opportunities in support of the School and College mission in cooperation with designated development staff;
  • maintaining currency in teaching and learning and a scholarly agenda, including continued research and publication or distinguished practice;
  • teaching one (1) course within the discipline per academic year;
  • ensuring compliance with SACS and CIDA accreditation guidelines;
  • facilitating the resolution of issues and problems that may arise between faculty, staff and students;
  • serving on University and College-wide committees;
  • fostering interdepartmental collaboration and continuing to enhance the reputation of the University of Kentucky College of Design School of Interiors in academic and professional circles; and
  • working with the Recruitment Officer to recruit talented undergraduate and graduate students.



The Director must possess the ability to lead the School in a way that prioritizes academic excellence, maintains its intimate quality, and develops opportunities for development growth.

Specific qualifications include:

  • Demonstrating a commitment to consensus building between the faculty, students and staff;
  • having the ability to work effectively with and expand outside constituencies including but not limited to alumni, donors and the profession;
  • being able to respond to the real factors of budgets and enrollment, and leverage the strengths of the school;
  • demonstrating a track record of sound fiscal management of resources;
  • having the ability to provide leadership to direct the School to a level of national and international prominence;
  • demonstrating an alignment with the University, College and School mission, vision and strategic plans;
  • possessing excellent written, oral and public communication skills;
  • demonstrating the capacity to build innovative teaching, research and outreach programs;
  • displaying an aptitude for problem solving and facilitating the success of others; and
  • demonstrating a commitment to collaboration and appropriate levels of transparency and confidentiality as part of a leadership team in the College of Design with the other Schools, Departments and programs.


Minimum requirements:

  • A professional degree in interior design or related field (BA, BS, MA, MS) and a terminal degree (Master’s post-professional or Doctorate) in interior design or related field.  Nationally or internationally recognized professional work may be considered as a substitution for the terminal degree requirement
  • Professional licensure or certification, or a substantial body of nationally or internationally recognized work
  • Nationally and/or internationally recognized high-quality teaching and research experience or distinguished practice
  • Meets the requirements for the rank of tenured Associate or Full Professor at the University of Kentucky
  • Evidence of design excellence and an awareness and understanding of issues in interior design practice and academia
  • Proven leadership and managerial skills
  • Teaching experience in higher education
  • Knowledge and understanding of a wide range of instructional systems development, training methods, techniques, and formats
  • Experience with curriculum development
  • Ability to motivate students and faculty to think creatively and critically
  • Knowledge of the requirements of accreditation agencies
  • Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to effectively communicate with a wide range of students, faculty, staff and constituencies in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural community
  • Skill in budget preparation and management


The School of Interiors: Planning, Strategy, Design

As the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s premier accredited undergraduate Interior Design program, UK offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interiors: Planning, Strategy, Design.  The School also offers a two-year Master of Arts in Interior Design. The School of Interiors has a rich academic tradition as an open-minded setting that supports diverse intellectual approaches within a rigorous design curriculum. Throughout its history, Kentucky’s academic environment, one which balances diversity, connectivity, and ingenuity, has attracted outstanding faculty and students, enabling many to reach the highest levels of national academic and professional achievement. On the University of Kentucky’s flagship campus in Lexington, the School strives to fulfill the University’s bold Land Grant Mission by delivering exceptional design thinking to improve our region’s built environment and the lives of its citizens.


Dean, College of Design

Mitzi Vernon is Dean of the College of Design at the University of Kentucky (UK). Her administrative portfolio includes the following new initiatives: Vision2021, a College-wide strategic plan; college identity and media collateral including 38˚84, a narrative-based, design journal; satellite studio, StudioLouisville; a graduate program in Urban & Environmental Design (Fall 2019); a Product Design program in collaboration with Biomedical Engineering and the healthcare campus (Fall 2020); and the adaptive reuse of the 1917 Reynolds tobacco warehouse on campus to unify the College and situate it as a new bridge between city and campus. The project is now in the design phase with National Architect Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang, and local Architect of Record, K Norman Berry. Vernon delivered the talk, “Teaching the Urban Future,” to the Urban Land Institute & Mayor’s Land Use Forum in Louisville (Summer 2018). She serves on the Center for Applied Energy Research Advisory Board and the Apple Partnership Academic Advisory Board. Prior to UK, she was Professor of Industrial Design in the School of Architecture + Design at Virginia Tech. Her career spans 30 years of leadership, practice and teaching in industrial design, engineering and architecture. As originator of the project “Fields Everywhere,” she has been the recipient of several patents and grants supporting her research in using design to promote the public understanding of science. She was a CreativeMornings speaker in April 2017, delivering Form in Life in Lexington, Kentucky, and one of the inaugural speakers for 2012 TEDx Virginia Tech, delivering Mapping the Invisible. Teaching awards include: Edward Singleton Diggs Teaching Scholar; a 2008 Dell ReGeneration International Design Educator Award; and the prestigious William E. Wine Award for Excellence in Teaching. Current streams of scholarship: a visual biography of industrial designer, David Rowland; the scholarship of form; and the public understanding of science.


About the University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky is a public, research-extensive, land grant university dedicated to improving people’s lives through excellence in teaching, research, health care, cultural enrichment, and economic development. UK’s campus covers 716 acres in Lexington and is home to more than 27,000 students from 115 countries and more than 13,500 employees. UK students enjoy an enormous array of choices, with some 200 majors and degree programs in 17 academic and professional colleges available. UK is one of only a few public universities nationally to house colleges of Agriculture, Arts and Sciences, Business and Economics, Communications and Information Studies, Dentistry, Design, Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Health Sciences, Law, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Social Work on a single campus.


About Lexington

The city of Lexington ( is located in Kentucky’s beautiful Bluegrass region, surrounded by rolling hills and horse farms. The second largest city in Kentucky, it is commonly known as the “Horse Capital of the World” and is home to the Kentucky Horse Park. With a diverse population of approximately 300,000 people, Lexington is within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the population of the United States. The city boasts a thriving arts culture with numerous venues and programs including the Lexington Opera House and University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. The Bluegrass is not only home to some of the best college sports teams in the country, but four distinct seasons and proximity to the Appalachian mountains and lake country make it an attractive destination for outdoorsmen. The city also hosts a lively seasonal activities calendar including horse racing at Keeneland and the Red Mile tracks, the Thursday Night Live weekly live music festival and the Taste of the Bluegrass Festival and multiple farmers’ markets to name a few.

For fullest consideration, application materials should be received by November 22, 2019, at which time the search committee will begin reviewing applications.  Nominations, applications, and inquiries of interest may be sent in confidence to the University’s executive search firm.

Martin M. Baker, Managing Partner

Chelsie Whitelock, Principal


10 Cadillac Drive, Suite 190

Brentwood, TN 37027


The University of Kentucky is committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce by ensuring all our students, faculty, and staff work in an environment of openness and acceptance. We strive to foster a community where people of all backgrounds, identities, and perspectives can feel secure and welcome. We also value the well-being of each of our employees and are dedicated to creating a healthy place to work, learn and live. In the interest of maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our students, employees, patients and visitors the University of Kentucky is a Tobacco & Drug Free campus.

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, we strongly encourage veterans, individuals with disabilities, women, and all minorities to consider our employment opportunities.