Adrian Parr named dean of UO's College of Design

November 19, 2020

Adrian Parr Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that Adrian Parr will become the new dean of the University of Oregon’s College of Design. She will start at UO on March 29, 2021, and will take over the helm of the college from Laura Vandenburgh, who has served as interim dean since July 2019.

Since 2018, Adrian has served as the dean of the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). She is a trans-disciplinary scholar working at the intersection of architecture criticism, aesthetics, political theory, and environmental studies. She is the author of eight books, the latest three of which focus on environmental politics and sustainability culture, and she is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chair on Water and Human Settlements.

Both the College of Design search committee and I were struck by Adrian’s professional style and inclusive approach to her work as dean, as well as her history of helping to create innovative programs and in solidifying connections to external stakeholders in the professional community. The integrative nature of her own work, as well as her broad prior leadership experience, strongly resonated with the very diverse interests of faculty, staff, and students from across the entire college. I also expect her to serve as an intellectual leader around the environment—an area of historical strength within the College of Design, which is also an emerging focus across the university as a whole.

Adrian’s talents cross over into the world of film, where she is the producer, writer, and director with Sean Hughes of the award-winning documentary The Intimate Realities of Water. The film details the relationship between water, development, poverty, gender, and public interest design in the slums of Nairobi. It won a dozen awards, including Best Cultural Feature at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards, Best Picture, and Best Woman Film Maker at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival. The film was featured at the 50th Anniversary of Water at UNESCO celebrations in Paris and the UN Paris Climate Talks.

Before arriving at UTA, Adrian was a tenured professor at the University of Cincinnati in political science and the School of Architecture and Interior Design. She was also the director of the Taft Research Center for Humanities and chair of Taft faculty. Previously, she was a faculty member at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you all to join me in thanking Laura Vandenburgh for her superb and steady leadership of the College of Design as interim dean. Laura was critical in the efforts to improve the culture, connections, and effective functioning across the college. She has helped us improve the financial sustainability for the college, and she was at the center of managing the pivot to remote and hybrid teaching during the pandemic. She has brought an incredible generosity of spirit and keen intellect to all of the work she conducted while interim dean. Laura will continue in her interim role until Adrian starts in March, and then return to her position as director of the School of Art+Design and associate dean of the college.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at


Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President