Marvin Hall from below

DEIB 2022-2023 Activities

Learn how the School of Architecture & Design is working to advance a culture of respect, connection, and shared purpose at KU and in the communities we serve. 

Through institutional initiatives and community outreach, we are developing new opportunities to collaborate and engage.

KU Design Camp 2023  

In June 2023, the School’s annual Design Camp provided a partial fee waiver to 12 high school students in the Kansas City metropolitan area school districts to attend the one-week camp and learn about architecture and design. Students from the 20/20 Leadership Program in Kansas City came from F.L. Schlagle High School, Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, and J.C. Harmon High School. Nine students from the Kansas City Public Schools District came from East High School, Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, Paseo Academy, and Southeast High School. Campers stayed on campus for the week in Oswald Hall and dined in Mrs. E’s dining center. The week included campus tours, a keynote speaker (Designer Titus Smith), academic spotlight presentations on Illustration & Animation, Industrial Design, Photography, Visual Communication, Architecture, and Interior Architecture, and evening activities such as visits to the Spencer Museum of Art on campus and Sylas & Maddy’s Ice Cream on Massachusetts Street. Campers chose a morning and afternoon academic workshop to attend during the week. The morning workshops topics included Urban Sketchbook (Kent Smith), Footwear Design (Betsy Barnhart), Editorial Illustration 101 (Titus Smith), What the Zine (Alec Smith), and Architecture: A Spatial Journey (Anne Patterson). The afternoon workshop topics included Creative Characters and Creatures (Kent Smith), Utilizing Digital Fabrication Tools (Amy Van de Riet), Experimental Darkroom Photography (Christina Santner), Packaging Design (Jeremy Shellhorn), and Designing in Virtual and Augmented Reality: From User Empathy to Prototyping (Mohammad Dastmalchi). On the last day, students presented their workshop projects to their families, guests, and teachers, and received certificates of participation at the closing reception. The camp was coordinated by School staff members April Czarnetzki, Raina Miyake, and Whitney Juneau and current KU Design students Tim Do, Sophia Graack, Emma Milburn, Meg Overbaugh, and Molly Smith served as resident assistants for the campers. 

Design Camp

Design Campers on the steps of Marvin Hall

McNair Scholar

Monet DeFreece, M.Arch student and MASP scholar, applied for and was admitted to the McNair Scholars Program at KU summer 2023. This program promotes diversity in academic and research fields by preparing scholars for graduate programs. Each scholar works with a mentor and generates their area of research. At the end of the summer, each scholar presents their research at a symposium. This year, Monet presented as the Keynote Presenter her topic “Building a Bridge Between Documentation and Representation in the Architecture Community” at the McNair Research Symposium in July.

HOK Diversity X Design Scholarship 2023 

Architecture Junior Sarah Montes received the prestigious HOK Diversity X Design Scholarship ($ 10,000) and a summer internship at HOK, Kansas City for her all-round performance as an architecture student. This annual scholarship is given to students of BIPOC backgrounds who are juniors/seniors in accredited architecture programs to support their academic and professional pursuits. Through this scholarship, the architecture firm HOK promotes diverse voices in the profession that represent their communities and clients. 

Graphic Depicting Monet DeFreece speaking at a podium and a group of students at a coffee shop.

KU Design Camp + Pathways to Design | Summer 2023 

Sam Yates Meier, a multi-term lecturer in Visual Communication, facilitated a week-long summer adaptation of KU’s Design Camp. The collaboration between KU’s School of Architecture and Design, Pathways to Design, Prep KC, and the Hickman Mills School District was coordinated by Meier. The workshop included Kansas City, Missouri, high school students who participated in a branding workshop where they created and explored brands, logos, and graphic design. 

Pathways to Design is a program that introduces students to design software and builds on learning objectives as their various programs progress. Students have professional mentors within different industries to give them a glimpse of what the professional side of their learning skills can translate into. Some students can also receive college credit for participating in the courses. Prep KC creates and implements strategies that help students attending Kansas City’s urban school districts succeed in college and their careers. This program is the third installment in partnership with KU’s Design Department and KU’s ArcD Design Camp. 

Prof. Sam Meier with students of the Hickman High School District and students pose for a selfie

Diversity Alliance at the School of Architecture & Design

The School of Architecture & Design has renewed their efforts to increase diversity at the school by striving to create an inclusive, diverse, and equitable learning, teaching, and working environment for its students, staff, and faculty.  To help make this a reality, the school has formed a group of architecture and design firms known as the Diversity Alliance, who recognize the lack of diversity within our profession, feel an urgency to address this inequality, and have the desire to support the school’s efforts in this area. To become a member of the Diversity Alliance, firms are asked to make a 5-year funding commitment, based on the firm’s size, to any of the school’s DEIB initiatives. Members of the Diversity Alliance will meet with the school’s DEIB leadership and students once a year to discuss the past years’ efforts, plan for the upcoming year, and receive updates on overall progress towards increased diversity. Each member firm will also be able to send employees to studio reviews, portfolio reviews, or other similar academic and professional development opportunities to interact directly with students and review their work. When possible, these reviews will include DEIB student groups within the school such as MASP, MDSP, ID-BIPOC, and NOMAS.  The kick-off meeting of the Diversity Alliance will be held on October 20, 2022.

Diversity Alliance

Diversity Alliance headshots

Course Redesign Institute | Summer 2023 

Four interior architecture faculty members participated in the Course Redesign Institute (CRI) organized by the KU Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) in summer 2023 to revise and redesign the curricular of their studios and required courses in architecture, design, and interior architecture to include content related to diversity, inclusion, and equity in design professions. It is expected that revised courses with DEI related content would (a) deepen students’ awareness in design/social justice, ethical considerations in the practice of architecture and design, multicultural diversity in design professions, and DEIB concerns in the professions of architecture and design; and (b) help them translate such understanding into designed environments that equitably support and include people of different backgrounds, voices, resources, and abilities. In addition, such course redesign is expected to improve the retention, progression, and academic success of students from underrepresented groups. It is expected that the revised courses/studios will be continuously offered and updated in the next five years. The faculty members were given a stipend, which was supported by the Kivett Faculty Development Fund for Architecture. 

Professors stand next to course redesign presentation posters displaying research.

NOMA-KC Pipeline Project Architecture Summer Camp | Summer 2023 

The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) Kansas City Chapter annually holds an architecture summer camp for middle and high school students of underrepresented populations in the Kansas City area to introduce students of minority backgrounds to the profession of architecture and to encourage them to choose architecture as their career path. Five architecture faculty members of the school collaborated with NOMA-KC to develop and deliver the curriculum for this 5-day long summer camp in July 2023. Twenty-five middle and high school students of minority backgrounds participated in the camp. Activities included the introduction to urban analysis through Kevin Lynch’s elements of city image, different definitions and terminology in urban planning activities, visits to architectural firms, learning about the elements and principles of architecture, playing games in which, they learned about building's relationships within an urban block, developing skills in orthographic drawings, scale, bubble diagrams, and the design thinking process. On the fourth day, students finalized their designs and built physical models, following the guidelines provided by NOMA-KC. On the final day, parents and family members came to see their children's work and presentation. Architecture faculty members Mohammad Dastmalchi, Shannon Criss, and Kurt Hong participated in the camp. The KU faculty members were sponsored with summer stipends from the school’s DEIB General Funds.

NOMA-KC summer camp students making presentations of their design work and collaborate at tables.

School DEIB Committee Initiatives 

The DEIB School Committee began the 2022-2023 academic year with an overview of the findings from the survey completed at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. Findings from this study guided the Committee with creating action items and plans. One of the first actions of the Committee was to request a more inclusive range of books/media for the Hatch Reading Room. The list was compiled and included input from our student Committee members.  

In March, the KU DEIB Office released the new “DEIB Toolbox” to aid with campus efforts to promote DEIB in departments or units. The DEIB Committee began work to map our previous survey and action items to this new “Toolbox” and succeeded in completing about 30% of this work.  

We ended the academic year with a Staff Appreciation Party. It was brought to our attention from the surveys that our staff and faculty were feeling a social disconnect. Prior to Covid restrictions, the School had pot-lucks, happy hours, and other social activities. These were all stopped during the pandemic. The Staff Appreciation Party was a great success and began the process of reintroducing these social opportunities for faculty and staff. Cake and coffee were provided by the DEIB committee. Faculty donated monies to purchase gifts for the staff. Overall, it was a fun and positive event, and allowed the opportunity for everyone to meet new staff members as well. 

Hatch Reading room

High School Student Visits | Spring 2023 

Through partnership with the 20/20 Leadership Program in Kansas City, the school hosted over 50 high school students of underrepresented populations in the Kansas City metropolitan area on campus to introduce them to pathways to design professions and to recruit future designers. The students were provided lunch and spent time visiting the East Hills Design-Build Facility and Marvin and Chalmers Halls in addition to interacting with the School of Architecture and Design faculty and students. 

The Slaggie Architecture and Design Emergency Fund 

The Slaggie Architecture and Design Emergency Fund was introduced, and the DEIB Committee was tasked with creating the application and guidelines for the students applying for these monies. The purpose of the funds was to assist a student in addressing an immediate, unexpected financial hardship that might otherwise prevent them from continued participation as a School of Architecture and Design KU student. Students applied for and were awarded money from this fund after it was created.  

High School Students of 20/20 Leadership Group from Kansas City on the entry stairs of Marvin Hall.

KU Racial Equity Grant  

The second portion of the documentation of the work by Kansas architect Charles McAfee began in summer of 2023. This portion of the work required the help of Student Research Assistants. Four students were hired to fullfill these roles. The two M.Arch students who had worked the summer of 2022, Monet DeFreece and Brittany Perez, continued into the summer of 2023. Jonathan Wagner (Photography student) was the on-site photographer, and Ph.D candidate Ifeloju Olusanya worked on the written documentation (short format HABS forms). 

We spent three days and two nights in Wichita, Kansas. The plan was to fully document the Shade Structure in McAdams Park. This structure was selected because of the small scale, the allowance for future documentation work of other structures in the park, and the cooperation of Wichita Parks and Recreation in allowing access to the structure. The City of Wichita had also recently won a Getty Foundation Grant to allow for the National Register nomination for the Pool building in McAdams Park (also designed by McAfee). This structure is visible from the Shade Structure. 

Monet and Brittany worked with Amy Van de Riet to make record drawings of the structure. This included first making hand-drawn sketches of the structure. For guidance, we used the HABS instructions for how to make these drawings. Brittany drew the floor plan and long elevation; Monet drew the roof plans and the short elevation. Brittany and Monet both drew some building details as well. Jonathan took digital documentation photos of the structure, and then took large-format photos as per the HABS guidelines. Jonathan was also able to photograph the Concessions building in the park as well. I am hopeful for a future grant to fund the drawing documentation of that structure.  

The students are currently completing work which includes making AutoCAD drawings of the structure from their sketches, processing the large-format photography, and writing the descriptions of the structure and significance. This work should be completed in early fall of 2023. 

Monet, Brittany, and Jonathan working on the KU Racial Equity Grant project.

School’s Annual Award Ceremony 

These following MASP and MDSP scholars won academic excellence awards at the School’s Award Ceremony in Sparing 2023. 

Dakoda Ash

  • Thayer Medal, highest GPA graduating class 2023, Department of Architecture 
  • 2023 Excellence in Gensler/Gastinger Walker Co-op Studio Award 
  • 2023 Excellence in Multicultural Scholars Program 

Ana Muhlen

  • 2023 Excellence in Sports & Entertainment in Architecture Award

Bridget Espino Delgado

  • 2023 Excellence in Historic Preservation Award 

Kaitlin Salanski

  • 2023 Outstanding Performance in Interior Architecture 

Lindsey Fletcher

  • 2023 Excellence in Multicultural Scholars Program
Students pose with professors and mentors while holding their awards

MASP & MDSP Program Activities 

The Multicultural Architecture Scholars Program provided scholarships for 30 students and the Multicultural Design Scholars Program provided 15 students in the 2022-23 academic year. In addition to mentoring and advising the scholars received from their mentors, scholars also participated in social activities and professional development activities (a virtual presentation by Landscape Architect Maya Lin gave at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City on her design process and a presentation by MASP alumna Lauren Campbell, MASP Alumna, Vice President, Momentum Global, NYC, on various career pathways for architects and designers).   

Students sit in Marvin Forum to watch a presentation.