BY TRACY ZOLLINGER TURNER
When Peg Faimon was an Indiana University student more than 35 years ago, she couldn’t have known how enduring that experience would be. But when she was asked to become the founding dean of IU’s new School of Art and Design, a weekend visit to Bloomington helped seal the deal.
“I was pleasantly surprised by all the beautiful changes downtown,” Faimon says. “It seems like the town is really supporting small businesses and the arts.”
Faimon met and married her husband, Don, when they were both IU students in the 1980s. They have two daughters: Anna, a sophomore at Miami University in Faimon’s hometown of Oxford, Ohio, and Lillith, a high school senior who will be attending IU in the fall.
As an undergrad, Faimon integrated internships she did at IBM in Lexington, Kentucky, into her graphic design studies, and gained real-world work experience at the now-defunct Viewpoint Gift Shop. After receiving her M.F.A. from Yale University and working as a designer in Miami, Florida, Faimon took a position as an assistant professor at Miami of Ohio, where she taught from 1991 until she accepted her new position at IU in 2016.
IU’s School of Art and Design merged the Department of Studio Art and the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design. Faimon says this allows the school to make its core curriculum more multifaceted, and increases the likelihood that students will collaborate with others in a broad range of disciplines as they progress through their degree programs.
“The world is full of complex problems, and individuals aren’t going to solve those problems,” says Faimon. “Teams of people are going to solve those problems.”
Before starting her position last July, Faimon had chaired Miami’s Department of Art, co-directed an interactive media studies program, developed curriculum around branding and design philosophies, and maintained a professional presence as a designer in the field. She has written and designed two books and co-authored a third.
Combining studio art and design into one department was a discussion when Faimon was a student, but IU’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan finally brought that merger to fruition. The fact that there was already buy-in from faculty for the institutional shift was important to Faimon.
The founding dean says the new endeavor is “not all perfectly easy.” However, she adds, “When there is difficulty, the faculty’s instinct is to help each other through it instead of getting territorial, so that’s impressive.”