Mitzi Vernon – University of Kentucky College of Design
Mitzi Vernon

Mitzi Vernon


Mitzi Vernon completed her 7th year as Dean of the College of Design at the University of Kentucky (UK) in 2022. She began a year-long research sabbatical January 1, 2023. Her administrative portfolio includes: the Gray Design Building, an adaptive reuse of a 1917 tobacco warehouse to unify the College and situate it as a new bridge between city and campus. Groundbreaking occurred August 8, 2022 (National Architect, Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects and local Architect of Record, K Norman Berry Architects); Vision2021, a College-wide strategic plan; full college identity and media collateral including 38?84: Stories of Design + Place, a narrative-based, design journal; satellite studios, StudioLouisville and StudioAppalachia; a new Product Design program in collaboration with Biomedical Engineering and the healthcare campus (Fall 2020); the inauguration of two new college initiatives: Technology Council and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council; and, in late 2021 and 2022 Vernon served as co-chair of the UK DEI Committee, Many People, One Community for the new UK Strategic Plan, and as a search committee member for the new Vice President for Philanthropy.

Innovation Magazine published Vernon’s article, Studio Adjacent: Why Studio Education is still part of the Future in the Winter 2022 issue. Current scholarship includes: higher education micro-philanthropy – the story of the Gray Design Building; the scholarship of form; and Fields Everywhere & the public understanding of science.

Prior to UK, Vernon has taught at Virginia Tech, California College of Art (CCA), the University of Southern California (USC) and Arizona State University (ASU). Vernon’s career spans 30+ years of leadership, practice and teaching in industrial design, engineering and architecture. As originator of the project, Fields Everywhere, she has been the recipient of several patents and grants supporting her research in using design to promote the public understanding of science. She has led multiple and diverse funded project teams. She was a CreativeMornings speaker in April 2017, delivering Form in Life in Lexington, Kentucky, and one of the inaugural speakers for 2012 TEDx Virginia Tech, delivering Mapping the Invisible. Teaching awards include: Edward Singleton Diggs Scholar; a 2008 Dell ReGeneration International Design Educator; & the prestigious William E. Wine Award for Excellence.

Courses Taught

PRD 110 Colloquium: Topics in Product Design

PRD 120 Form Studio

PRD 121 Product Design Studio I

PRD 261 Photo + Portfolio for Product Design

PRD 410 Colloquium: Topics in Product Design

Mitzi Vernon