About us

We are committed to redefining the 21st-century design and arts school.

Home / Mission + History

About the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Welcome to the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the largest comprehensive design and arts school in the nation, located within a dynamic 21st-century research university.

With 5,000+ students, nearly 400 faculty members, 130 program options and a tradition of top-ranked programs, we are committed to redefining the 21st-century design and arts school. Our college is built on a combination of disciplines unlike any other program in the nation, comprising the Schools of ArtArts, Media and Engineering;  Music, Dance and Theatre; The Design School, The Sidney Poitier New American Film School; and the ASU Art Museum.

The institute is dedicated to the following design principles:

Creativity is a core 21st-century competency. Our graduates develop the ability to be generative and enterprising, work collaboratively within and across artistic fields, and generate non-routine solutions to complex problems. With this broad exposure to creative thinking and problem-solving, our graduates are well prepared to lead in every arena of our economy, society and culture.

Design and the arts are critical resources for transforming our society. Designers and artists must be embedded in their communities and dedicate their creative energy and talent to building, reimagining and sustaining our world. Design and the arts must be socially relevant and never viewed as extras or as grace notes. The Herberger Institute is committed to placing designers, artists and arts-trained graduates at the center of public life.

The Herberger Institute is committed to enterprise and entrepreneurship. For most college graduates today, the future of work is unpredictable, non-linear and constantly evolving. A recent study found that 47 percent of current occupations will likely not exist in the next few decades. At the Herberger Institute, our faculty, students and graduates are inventing the jobs and the businesses of the future; reimagining how design, art and culture get made and distributed; and coming up with new platforms and technology for the exchange of culture and the enrichment of the human experience. The legendary author and expert on city life Jane Jacobs talks about the abundance of "squelchers" — parents, educators, managers and leaders who tend to say no to new ideas. At the Herberger Institute, there are no squelchers. We embrace the cardinal rule of improvisation — always say: "Yes, and…"

Every person, regardless of social background, deserves an equal chance to help tell our nation's and our world's stories. Our creative expression defines who we are, what we aspire to and how we hope to live together. At the Herberger Institute, we are committed to projecting all voices — to providing an affordable education to every student who has the talent and the desire to boldly add their creative voice to the world's evolving story.

Effectiveness requires excellence. We know that our ability to solve problems, build enterprises and create compelling and socially relevant design and art requires high levels of mastery. By being the best in our chosen fields, we can stretch ourselves and our talents to make a difference in the world.

As part of a weekly installation on campus, a Herberger Institute student once hand-lettered "Here's to the dreamers and the doers" in chalk on an outdoor blackboard on the ASU campus. Whether you are an architect, designer, artist, performer, filmmaker, media engineer or creative scholar, the Herberger Institute is a place to dream. But unlike the misrepresentation of the artist and scholar as lost in a cloud, our faculty and students "make stuff happen" and leave their well-chiseled mark on the world. Come tour our concert and performance halls, design and art studios, exhibition spaces, dance studios, scene shops, classrooms, clinics and digital culture labs, and you will see the power of dreamers and doers.

If you are reading this message, you are implicated as a potential collaborator. Bring us your talents, your ideas and your passion — we will dream and do great things together.

Enthusiastically yours,

Steven J. Tepper

Dean
Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts 
Arizona State University

Mission

To position designers, artists, scholars and educators at the center of public life and prepare them to use their creative capacities to advance culture, build community and imaginatively address today’s most pressing challenges.

Vision

To advance the New American University by embedding designers, artists and arts-based inquiry at its core and throughout the communities it serves locally, nationally and internationally.

Values 

  • Creativity as a core 21st-century competency.
  • Design and the arts as critical resources for transforming our society.
  • Innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurship.
  • Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaboration and research.
  • Social embeddedness.
  • Projecting all voices.
  • Excellence.

History

In 2009, the Arizona Board of Regents approved the merger of the ASU College of Design and the Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts into the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.

With the creation of the Herberger Institute, ASU shone a spotlight on the importance of design and the arts and on the critical role creativity plays in developing innovative solutions to the global challenges we face.

Comprised of a dynamic combination of disciplines, the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is a leader in the investigation of creativity and creative practice shaping the 21st century.

As part of the Herberger Institute merger announcement in 2009, the department of dance became the School of Dance and the arts, media and engineering program became the School of Arts, Media and Engineering.

In 2013, the School of Theatre and Film and the School of Dance merged to become the School of Film, Dance and Theatre.

Steven J. Tepper was appointed dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts December 2013, and officially began his tenure July 1, 2014. Tepper is one of the nation's founding thought leaders on the creative campus movement, which places creativity at the center of campus and academic life. He is also the associate director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy and the nation's leading authority on the lives and careers of arts graduates.

In 2020, the Arizona Board of Regents approved a plan to create two new schools in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts: the School of Music, Dance and Theatre and The Sidney Poitier New American Film School. By bringing together music, dance and theatre disciplines into one school and establishing a film school for the fastest growing film program in the country, the Herberger Institute aims to provide students and faculty greater opportunities and more room to innovate, collaborate and succeed.

History of design at ASU

During 1949–50, James Elmore, the founding dean of the architecture college at ASU, suggested that ASU develop a two-year technical architecture program to "play the role of a forceful pioneer" in Arizona, as there were no schools of architecture closer than Los Angeles, Berkeley or Salt Lake City.

The program grew to offer the bachelor of architecture degree in the fall of 1957. In its first 10 years, the student body grew from 45 to 142 and full-time faculty from two to five members. In 1958, the program became an associate member of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, and the first bachelor of architecture degree was awarded in May 1960. In January 1961, the college’s first accreditation was granted. By the end of the second decade of architectural studies at ASU, the study body had grown to 407 with full-time faculty of 21 members.

The program became the Division of Architecture in 1957 and the School of Architecture in 1959, still within the brand-new College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. On July 1, 1964, the program became the independent College of Architecture.

Through the next decade, the college grew and diversified in the study of architecture, urban design and design. In 1977-78, the college was officially reorganized in three separate departments: architecture, design sciences (interior design and industrial design) and planning. In 1983, the Arizona Board of Regents approved a change in name to the College of Architecture and Environmental Design to more accurately reflect the depth and breadth of design and planning studies within its programs.

The graphic design program joined the school in June 1996, moving from the ASU School of Art. The School of Planning was formerly the School of Planning and Landscape Architecture. In July 2004, the landscape architecture program moved to the School of Architecture.

As part of the Herberger Institute merger announced in 2009, the School of Planning moved to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences School of Geological Sciences and Urban Planning. The W. P. Carey School of Business now administers the MRED program.

In February 2011, the Arizona Board of Regents approved the renaming of the school as The Design School.

History of the arts at ASU

Founded in 1964, the College of Fine Arts at Arizona State University welcomed its first class of students at the beginning of fall semester 1965. The college consisted of the departments of art, music and speech and drama. A fourth unit, the University Art Museum, was dedicated to research and to the conservation and preservation of works of art.

Henry A. Bruinsma served as the first dean of fine arts. From 1955 to 1956, he served as chair of the Department of Music at ASU (then Arizona State College).

In 2000, the College of Fine Arts was named The Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts, in honor of Valley arts philanthropist Katherine K. "Kax" Herberger. A longtime Phoenix resident, Herberger championed the support and growth of the College of Fine Arts and encouraged its community outreach programs. The schools of art, music, theatre and film, the department of dance and the arts, media and engineering program comprised the academic units of what was then known as the Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts.

Disrupt 19-20 Cover

Experience Disrupt, our annual online magazine.