UT School of Architecture Announces First Female Dean

UT announced the appointment of Michelle Addington as the new dean of the School of Architecture on Monday. Addington, currently the Hines Professor of Sustainable Architectural Design at Yale University, will begin her position on July 1. 

“[UT] is a place that I have been paying attention to since I was a child,” Addington says. “I’ve interviewed over the years for different dean positions, and none of them felt right to me. When this one became available, I knew this was a place that I really wanted to be.”

Addington says the variety of disciplines available within the school drew her to the position. The School of Architecture includes interior design, landscape architecture, urban design, sustainable design, and more.

 “With this complete suite of disciplines together, we can tackle problems, and should be tackling problems,” Addington says. “There aren’t that many schools that have that full breadth across the disciplines that are also very robust from undergraduate all the way through to PhD.”

Addington says she thinks the School of Architecture has an opportunity to play a central role at the university, addressing complex topics such as climate change and globalization. “Many major questions can be housed or at least convened from a design discipline,” Addington says. “My major goal is that the school takes its place at the center of the university as being the interdisciplinary core of where many of these initiatives can be addressed.”

Addington brings both engineering and architectural knowledge to the position. After receiving her bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Tulane, she worked for 13 years as an engineer. Her resume includes experience at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight center and at Dupont as a process design and power plant engineer. “I love understanding how things work and that’s what really drew me to [engineering], but I had this sort of secret and deep love for architecture throughout,” Addington says. “I just decided one day that nobody should end their life without pursuing their passions. I quit my job as an engineer and started architecture school. I never regretted it.”

She acquired her bachelor of architecture degree from Temple University and later went on to earn her doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Before teaching at Yale, she spent 10 years as a professor at Harvard University. In addition to sustainable architectural design, her research and teaching focuses on advanced technologies and materials. Architect Magazine dubbed her one of the top 10 architecture faculty members in the U.S. in 2009.

Addington, the first full-time female dean in the 107 year-history of the School of Architecture, will replace Elizabeth Danze, who has been serving in an interim role since July. Addington’s appointment comes after the former dean of the school, Frederick Steiner, left UT to be the dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, citing campus carry legislation as one of his motivations for leaving. Steiner served as dean for 15 years.  

The UT School of Architecture has acquired high rankings in both the undergraduate and graduate level. The school’s undergraduate program currently ranks sixth in the nation. The graduate program continues to fall within the country’s top 15 programs.

“My fire for this school very much has to do with what I already see in place,” Addington says. “I’m here because I believe that I can help facilitate what it is that the school already does really well.”

Photo: Dr. Michelle Addington, courtesy of Yale University.


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