Karen Hofmann on Building an Accessible, Affordable, and Inclusive Education
From the ArtCenter College of Design’s Bi-Weekly Podcast
ArtCenter College of Design’s bi-weekly podcast features intimate interviews with leading artists examining the ideas fueling their work and how the creative process can be a catalyst for change—personally, professionally and globally. Hosted by ArtCenter President Lorne M. Buchman, these conversations examine the many ways in which artists and designers are enriching our lives. ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education; and our mission statement—Learn to create. Influence change—lies at the center of all we do.
To many Change Lab listeners, this guest needs no introduction. She is someone who has burst through seemingly impenetrable ceilings—glass and otherwise—to claim leadership roles historically held by men. She rose through the ranks as a strategic industrial designer before returning to ArtCenter, her alma mater, for a transformative stint as Chair of the Product Design department. She was also a driving force behind ArtCenter’s innovative DesignStorm program, through which major brands engage our students in developing new products and ideas.
This force of nature is none other than ArtCenter Provost and President-elect, Karen Hofmann, who is the first woman to serve in either of those roles. On a personal and professional level, Lorne couldn’t have asked for a better partner in leading this College through the uncertainties of Covid-19 and the enormous logistical, creative, social and emotional adjustments that went along with the transition to remote learning and back. Thanks in no small part to Karen’s dedication and unflagging optimism, ArtCenter has emerged stronger and better equipped to face the future than we’ve ever been. And, come July, Karen will be poised to build on those achievements when she takes office, upon Lorne’s retirement, as ArtCenter’s first female president.
Throughout Karen’s tenure as provost, the College encountered a complex set of challenges—some anticipated, others unprecedented, all essential to the health and longevity of this institution. But Karen managed to keep calm and carry on through each new obstacle with the aplomb and solution-mindset drawn from her background in design and competitive sports. It was almost as if she was making the case, in real time, that there is no better person to lead ArtCenter through the uncertainties that lie ahead.
Karen Hofmann is the provost at ArtCenter College of Design overseeing the undergraduate and graduate educational departments, academic, faculty and student affairs and ArtCenter Extension. Prior to being named provost in July 2018, she served as chair of ArtCenter’s Product Design department since 2009 and began teaching at the College in 2001. In 2018, she was presented with the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) Education Award in recognition of her significant and distinguished contributions to the field of industrial design education. She was similarly recognized in 2010, when DesignIntelligence, published by the Design Futures Council, named her one of their Most Admired Educators.
She currently serves as a board member for the MADWORKSHOP Foundation, supporting artists and designers who will make radical, sustainable and lasting contributions to the design discourse and society at large. She serves as a board member of Full Circle which provides scholarships and funding for programs to support ArtCenter students during their educational journey.