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College of Human Environmental Sciences

Ellen S. Fisher

Alumna Dr. Ellen Fisher was selected to be both the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Dean of the New York School of Interior Design serving a diverse student population of over 700 students from 33 countries and 109 faculty. Ellen is the first woman to have held these high ranking offices since the program began in 1916.

Her graduate research at the University of Missouri focused on learning practices. Ellen managed to make substantial contributions mastering the application of design and behavior—the core emphasis of the graduate program.

Dr. Fisher understands that change occurs when it is viewed as personal, political, and cultural in working with diverse people and she is expert in building bridges and moving in each of these circles. Accomplishments include launching an online program, implementing new degree offerings, invigorating the study abroad program and special programs for international visiting students, and implementing an interdisciplinary graduate program in healthcare interior design. Ellen was one of the chosen few to participate in the "Future of Interior Design Education" round-table with Metropolis Magazine and its subsequent follow-up at regional and national professional meetings. High-profile offices she has held with the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) professional organization have included the positions of East Regional Chair, Board of Directors Member, Director of Scholarship, and Board Liaison to the Journal of Interior Design.

What helped you from MU's Architectural Studies?

Ellen explains: "My education as a PhD student in MU's Architectural Studies taught me how to think in a rigorous way about the interaction of people and their physical environments. Dr. Benyamin Schwarz, my advisor and committee chair, served as challenger-in-chief to me, always demanding the best effort and best thinking from me, as a researcher, writer, and scholar. Through striving to meet that challenge, I grew as a human being -- there is a value system instilled through the creation of knowledge, which is a particular kind of integrity and dedication of purpose -- and as an educator.

Today, as the VP for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College at the New York School of Interior Design, I try my best to communicate those same values to my students and colleagues, through my involvement in scholarship, education, and design practice, and my constant and demonstrated commitment to building and extolling the profession of interior design. Department chair, Dr. Ruth Tofle, also instilled in me and my cohort a tremendous loyalty to Mizzou, our alma mater. Of all the schools that I have attended, I feel tremendous loyalty for the University of Missouri, due in no small part to Dr. Tofle, Dr. Schwarz, and to the great gift of learning and knowledge that I received from them, at this great university."


Ellen Fisher


Ellen S. Fisher
Vice President/Dean
New York School of Interior Design


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