UTexas leader tapped as next UO College of Design dean

Provost and Senior Vice President Patrick Phillips announced that he has appointed Adrian Parr to be the next dean of UO’s College of Design.

She is currently the dean of the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Arlington, a position she has held since 2018. She starts in her new position in late March 2021.

“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,” Phillips said in an announcement to the UO 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.”

Parr’s scholarly background includes a focus on the connections between architecture criticism, aesthetics, political theory and environmental studies. She has authored eight books and serves as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s chair on water and human settlements.

During her tenure at the University of Texas at Arlington, Parr played a key role in improving excellence and innovation at the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs and boosting its reputation across the world. The college’s Master of Public Administration, Master of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture programs all have received high rankings under her leadership.

Parr said she is excited to join “an esteemed institution with a long and distinguished legacy of environmentally and socially engaged research, and for providing an outstanding education.”

“It is a tremendous honor to serve the College of Design faculty, staff and students in this role as their next dean,” Parr said. “I am really looking forward to closely engaging with them, our alumni, the broader University of Oregon community and to deepening relationships with community and professional leaders across the Pacific Northwest region and beyond.”

She said she will be committed to working with the college’s stakeholders — students, faculty and staff — “to catalyze the transformative potential of the design disciplines as drivers of civic engagement, environmental wellbeing, and social equity.”

Before UTA, Parr 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. Before that, she was a faculty member at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Also joining the College of Design will be Parr’s husband, Michael Zaretsky, an associate professor of civil engineering at UTA who earned a master's degree in architecture at the UO in 1998. He currently serves as the director of the architectural engineering program in UTA’s civil engineering department.

Laura Vandenburgh has been interim dean of UO’s College of Design since July 2019. When Parr starts next year, Vandenburgh will return to her position as director of the college’s School of Art+Design and associate dean.

To see the full text of Phillips’ announcement, go to the Office of the Provost website.

—By David Austin, University Communications