MacKeith Named in 25 'Most Admired Design Educators' by DesignIntelligence

Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, has been named in DesignIntelligence as one of the 25 "Most Admired Design Educators" for 2017-18.
University Relations

Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, has been named in DesignIntelligence as one of the 25 "Most Admired Design Educators" for 2017-18.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, has been named by DesignIntelligence as one of the 25 "Most Admired Design Educators" for 2017-18. This annual recognition of excellence honors achievements in education and education administration among the disciplines of architecture, industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture.

MacKeith joins three other Fay Jones School faculty members who have been named among DesignIntelligence's "Most Admired Educators": David Buege, professor (2013); Marlon Blackwell, Distinguished Professor and E. Fay Jones Chair in Architecture (2015); and Jeff Shannon, professor and former dean (2011 and 2016).

The fact that this "top" list has included multiple Fay Jones School professors and deans in recent years speaks to the insight and vision of the University of Arkansas leadership in recruiting and building an outstanding faculty, said Dave Gilmore, president and chief executive officer for DesignIntelligence, based in Washington, D.C.

"It's not about filling a seat," Gilmore said. "It's about transformation, and transformation of an industry, which is what we're going through right now."

As DesignIntelligence describes, "MacKeith has a real vision for collaboration and bringing relevance back to the profession. Dedicated to providing students with the best experiences to prepare them for working in the field of architecture, he provides clear leadership both within the school and in the broader community. MacKeith pushes the limits of sustainability, has good thoughtful design practice and focuses on designing a better environment for all."


MacKeith, an educator who remains engaged actively in studio and classroom teaching, is known for his commitment to providing students with a quality education and helping them find a way into the professions. He was instrumental in working with the Design Futures Council, publisher of DesignIntelligence, in the creation of the Design Futures Council Scholars Program.

"It was Peter (MacKeith) who was not satisfied with just graduating students," said Gilmore, of DesignIntelligence. "He wanted to do more for their lives." Last spring, seven Fay Jones School graduates were named DFC Scholars.

MacKeith's peers selected him for this distinguished group of design educators, Gilmore said. Gilmore considers those honored on the list as exemplars who are changing the ways in which design education is understood. For MacKeith, he said, that includes "a broader and informed perspective about global design. Many deans live within the tower of academia and never come down. The fact that he's recognized as someone who's kind of shaken it up out there is fantastic."

Gilmore pointed to MacKeith's longtime relationship with and knowledge of design in Finland and the Nordic region, where MacKeith first traveled as a Fulbright Scholar and then remained for 10 years to live and work.

MacKeith became dean of the Fay Jones School in July 2014, coming to the University of Arkansas from Washington University in St. Louis. Since his arrival on the Fayetteville campus, he has expanded academic and outreach programs, cultivated relationships with external partners and enhanced connections with alumni - all with the goal of adding value to the learning experiences of students, building resources for faculty and contributing positively to the economic development of the state and region through design. In a little more than three years, he has raised the profile of the school in the design professions across the state and beyond, by fostering initiatives that generate design thinking, practice and research in service of critical problems of the made and natural environments, with particular focus on resiliency and sustainability, preservation design, retail and hospitality design, design for health and aging, and harnessing timber and wood resources.

Gilmore also noted the ways in which MacKeith promotes the integration of local materials into design, such as the fact that timber is an abundant natural resource in Arkansas. Through the award of a USDA Forest Service grant, establishment of a new Arkansas timber professorship, cultivation of symposia, conferences and new course work, and championing innovative timber projects on campus, MacKeith is emerging as a leading voice for the contemporary, sustainable use of this material.


Mark Weaver, FAIA, an alumnus and principal of HBG Design in Memphis, Tennessee, who has observed the Fay Jones School closely as a co-chair of its Campaign Arkansas Committee, points out that MacKeith's outreach in the state and across the country has a vision and purpose behind it that is inclusive, collaborative and diverse.

"His work with the timber industry is an example of out of-the-box thinking that promises to create jobs and opportunities. And not only traditional jobs, but opportunities for the timber industry, advanced fabrication technologies, coding and design," Weaver said.

Steve Kinzler, AIA, an alumnus and principal and CEO of Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, said that 90 percent or more of the professional staff in their Little Rock and Fayetteville offices are architecture and interior design graduates of the Fay Jones School.

"Our firm and others all around Arkansas continue to be impressed and highly pleased with the creativity, talent, abilities, willingness to work and consistently fine quality of the graduates of the Fay Jones School in all disciplines," said Kinzler, who also serves as president of the school's Dean's Circle.

To assure that this legacy remains strong, MacKeith has led important curricular initiatives that take best advantage of the synergy among the school's design disciplines, including a collaborative foundation curriculum for first-year students, new undergraduate minors in design, interdisciplinary advanced studios, integration of the university's programs in sustainability (now intended toward the establishment of a university resiliency center) and creation of a new graduate program, the Master of Design Studies, with initial concentrations in Resiliency Design and Retail and Hospitality Design, awaiting final approval from the university's Board of Trustees at its January meeting.

About the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design: The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas houses professional design programs of architecture, landscape architecture and interior design together with liberal studies programs. All of these programs combine studio design education with innovative teaching in history, theory, technology and urban design. A broad range of course offerings equips graduates with the knowledge and critical agility required to meet the challenges of designing for a changing world. Their training prepares students with critical frameworks for design thinking that also equip them to assume leadership roles in the profession and in their communities. The school's architecture program was ranked 26th in the nation, and the 12th best program among public, land-grant universities, in the 16th Annual Survey of America's Best Architecture and Design Schools, a study conducted in 2015 by the Design Futures Council and published in DesignIntelligence. For more information visit

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs.


Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design


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