Sara Little Turnbull Foundation Awards Lehman College $200K for Arts Initiative That Seeks to Raise Enrollments, Increase Design Field Diversity

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Sara Little Turnbull Foundation Awards Lehman College $200K for Arts Initiative That Seeks to Raise Enrollments, Increase Design Field Diversity

Lehman College announced this week a $200,000 gift from the Sara Little Turnbull Foundation to fund a new four-year initiative that will create a pipeline into design fields for its art department’s most talented students by expanding financial and career support, increasing existing design course offerings and establishing new lecturer positions within the department.

“The generosity of the Sara Little Turnbull Foundation is matched only by the alacrity with which they share Lehman College’s commitment to serve underrepresented young adults,” said David Schwittek, an assistant professor of graphic design and digital media at Lehman and grant coordinator for the Foundation’s initiative.

The annual $50,000 gift, for which Lehman will reapply for three additional years, is an inaugural grant to Lehman by the Foundation; which continues the legacy of Sara Little Turnbull by supporting historically-underrepresented youth and women in design education, design practice and leadership.

“The Foundation is thrilled to partner with Lehman College, which promises to bring much needed new perspectives to the fields of design,” said Dorothy Dunn, special trustee to the Sara Little Turnbull Foundation.

The grant will help the art department create additional undergraduate and graduate design scholarships, produce an annual design conference, create a design certificate program for working professionals, grants for design-related study abroad and expand the existing visiting lecturer series to include a “Sara Little Turnbull Visiting Distinguished Lecturer” post as well as an additional adjunct design lecturer position.

“This series of initiatives will blend Lehman’s robust academics with engaging public programming that will put Lehman on the map when it comes to the study of design in the Bronx,” said Lehman College Vice President of Institutional Advancement Susan E. Ebersole. “while also reaffirming the importance of design education and its place in the world.”

The investment in Lehman is readily interpreted as an investment in the future of the design industry, Schwitteck said. “With the Sara Little Turnbull Foundation’s help, the art department will be able to provide a new generation of design students the kind of scholarships, grant opportunities, distinguished lecturers, and innovative curriculum that was only a pipe dream a year ago.”

Several design industry leaders have been scheduled to deliver presentations and conduct on-campus workshops in the Spring 2020 semester, Schwittek said.

They include:

  • Robert Wurzburg, president and creative director of Dogsharks LLC
  • Rees Shad, game designer, educator, and musician
  • Laura Silva, vice president, Global Tech and Ops – Accessibility Technology UX Design Lead, Bank of America
  • Allen Chochinov, co-founder, Core77; director, Products of Design, School of Visual Arts
  • Mackey Saturday, trademark/brand identity designer, and design firm owner

A native New Yorker and a graduate of Parsons School of Design, Sara Little Turnbull (1917–2015) was one of America’s first female industrial designers. A trailblazing product designer, design innovator and educator, she thrived in the post-World World II design industry advising corporate clients that included 3M, Motorola, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Corning, Coca-Cola, Revlon, and the Ford Motor Company. Launched in 2018, the Sara Little Turnbull Foundation promotes public awareness of design at the intersection of business, culture, and education.