Carlos Teixeira to be Named Charles L. Owen Professor in Design

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By Andrew Connor

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Carlos Teixeira (Ph.D. DSGN ’02), associate professor at Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design, will be named the Charles L. Owen Professor in Design, in recognition of his impactful contributions to the field of design as an educator and leading systems designer and design strategist.

The professorship is named in memory of Charles L. Owen, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at ID and a pioneer in systems design who helped to make ID a forefront institution in the field. Owen passed away in 2019.

“When I first endowed the chair and named it for Charles Owen, I really wanted to see systems design stay as a part of ID,” says Rob Pew, the board chair at Steelcase whose gift to ID funds the professorship. “I think it's unusual that there would be a systems professor in a design school—you might find one at an engineering or computer science school, but at a design school it’s unusual, and I am just delighted it’s going to continue.”

Teixeira currently leads the Ph.D. program at ID, where he has advised numerous doctoral students. His own research is in the areas of design strategy, open innovation, and sustainable solutions. He is also the director of ID’s Action Lab, which leverages ID’s expertise in systems design and human-centered design to address today’s pressing issues, including sustainable development, equitable health care, and just policymaking. 

His work is guided by the question: “How can design affect the lives and well-being of people and communities by leveraging the interconnectivity of markets, technology, environment, finance, and social networks?” He is attempting to answer that question through projects such as Flag Calumet, leading students through revitalization efforts in the Calumet region of Illinois and Indiana.

“Carlos is always about trying to understand things in different ways and trying to help others see different possibilities. I think that’s what he has done with design,” says André Nogueira (Ph.D. ’19), an associate researcher and instructor at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and an alumnus whom Teixeira advised. “He’s always bringing the design perspective—which is about making, and using, and change—to conversations that are happening in other fields. He makes things possible in ways that others have not been able to.”

Before joining ID, Teixeira was a faculty member at Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York. He also founded ORGE Innovation Consulting, which offers design strategy consulting and know-how to organizations. 

“Being named the Charles L. Owen Professor in Design feels much like how I felt when I visited ID for the first time back in 1997 coming from Brazil,” says Teixeira. “It’s the feeling of being welcomed by the field of design and all the people that came before me. I am very thankful for Chuck, for the great legacy of his work, and for the foundation he built for the next generation.”

Teixeira’s investiture will take place via Zoom on Tuesday, December 15, at 4 p.m. CST. It will be the university’s first-ever virtual investiture ceremony.

Photo: Associate Professor Carlos Teixeira (Ph.D. DSGN ’02)