March 13, 2018
Renée Cheng has been named dean of the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments, President Ana Mari Cauce and Provost Jerry Baldasty announced today. Her appointment, set to begin Jan. 1, 2019, is subject to approval by the UW Board of Regents.
Cheng is professor and associate dean of research at the University of Minnesota, where she has developed award-winning curricula and recently has been directing an innovative graduate program linking research with practice and licensure. Cheng has been honored twice as one of the top 25 most admired design educators in the United States by DesignIntelligence, an organization that ranks architecture and design schools across the country.
“Professor Cheng recognizes that the building professions – from architecture to urban planning to construction management – are part research and part practice. Their work reflects our communities, serves them and becomes part of them,” Baldasty said. “By continuing to advocate for a research-based approach to this work, and increasing the number and visibility of women and people of color, Professor Cheng will serve as a dynamic leader in the college and beyond.”
A licensed architect, Cheng is a leader in the American Institute of Architects and advocates for equity in the field of architecture and more broadly in the practices related to the built environment. Cheng has pioneered research surrounding the intersection of design and emerging technologies, including work on industry adoption of Integrated Project Delivery, Building Information Modeling and Lean.
Bringing deep connections to industry and teaching expertise, Cheng will lead the College of Built Environments and all its disciplines, which include architecture, construction management, landscape architecture, real estate, and urban design and planning. The College’s approach and work goes beyond the design of buildings, as it considers the physical, cultural and ecological systems in which we live.
“The College of Built Environments is a unique collection of disciplines that together, have unparalleled access to, and impact on, the lives and well-being of each and every community around the globe,” Cheng said. “I am honored and excited to join the College of Built Environments and work with new and existing partners, in the greater Seattle area and elsewhere, to collectively make the greatest positive impact.”
Cheng earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and social relations from Harvard University. She went on to receive a professional degree in architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design. After academic appointments at the University of Michigan and University of Arizona, Cheng joined the University of Minnesota in 2001, serving first as head of the School of Architecture and later as associate dean for research for the College of Design.