May 14, 2009 — Kim Tanzer, a professor of architecture whose teaching and research encompass three key areas – the relationship between the human body and the built environment; environmental design and sustainability; and African-American neighborhoods and their role in social equity – will become dean of the University of Virginia's School of Architecture on July 1.
Tanzer, a University of Florida architecture professor and practicing architect, will succeed Karen Van Lengen, who will step down at the end of June after serving as dean for 10 years.
In making the announcement today at a gathering of architecture faculty and staff, University President John T. Casteen III said, "Professor Tanzer brings with her a strong background in collaborative teaching, research and community outreach that will reinforce the future direction of the school and keep it on the path toward excellence. I see the School of Architecture as a unique treasure here, and I am confident that Professor Tanzer will be a good steward of this treasure."
Tanzer, a highly regarded teacher and researcher at the University of Florida and a leader in national architecture circles, said she is looking forward to her new role at U.Va.
"The University of Virginia is one of the nation's great universities, and its School of Architecture is among the best in the nation. Both are well-positioned to respond to pressing and emerging global challenges," Tanzer said. "I am honored to have the opportunity to work on behalf of the school's exceptional students, alumni and faculty, who are educating tomorrow's environmental design leaders and providing critical and timely knowledge and design responses."
Tanzer brings a broad range of leadership experiences, said Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., U.Va.'s executive vice president and provost. "We have been fortunate to attract a new dean who possesses a blend of practical experience in the classroom, understanding of the academy and the need to be at the forefront in her field."
Some of her recent leadership positions have included president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture; chairwoman of UF's faculty senate and faculty member of UF's board of trustees; co-founder and founding director of the Florida Community Design Center, Inc.; and special adviser to UF's president on his universitywide sustainability initiatives.
She has received local and national awards for her community-based architecture practice and service, including for her extensive work in Fifth Avenue/Pleasant Street, a historically African-American neighborhood in Gainesville, Fla.
"Kim has communicated a commitment to the school and to an activist role in the position," said Edward R. Ford, a University architecture professor who chaired the search committee. "She has made it clear that it is a task she would attack with passion, ability and intellect, broadening the school's multidisciplinary nature while strengthening its foundations."
"The Architecture School houses a diverse set of disciplines, from painters to furniture designers and city planners," Ford added. "It is almost impossible to find a candidate who appeals to all. Out of hundreds of people considered, Kim demonstrated an ability to empathize and communicate with all of those diverse constituencies – and gain their trust."
Tanzer, 53, began her career at the University of Florida in 1988 as an assistant professor. She graduated magna cum laude from Duke University in 1977 with a bachelor of arts degree. In 1984, she received her master of architecture degree from North Carolina State University, along with a minor in landscape architecture.
In addition to many scholarly and popular articles, Tanzer recently co-edited with Rafael Longoria "The Green Braid: Towards an Architecture of Ecology, Economy, and Social Equity."
As dean, Tanzer will be responsible for, among other things, the Architecture School's educational affairs; the development of its academic programs; effective leadership with students, faculty, staff and alumni; and fund-raising initiatives to enhance the school's current and future aspirations.
Garson also laid out four assignments that he and Casteen hope to see accomplished during her first term. They include:
• Creation of interdisciplinary research centers based on faculty expertise and built on faculty consensus.
• Introduction of a Ph.D. program in architecture.
• Internationalization of the school in ways consistent with the University's strategic initiatives.
• Expansion of the understanding of Jefferson's linking of education, architectural space and democratic citizenship as expressed in his design of the Academical Village.
Tanzer said she is enthusiastic about the challenges of the next five years. "I look forward to working with my new colleagues as together we continue the University of Virginia's mission to create a fair, sustainable world."
Tanzer is married to Rod McGalliard, an attorney.