СӰԺ receives one of the largest gifts in university history

Interior Design class at СӰԺ

Interior Design class at СӰԺ

The СӰԺ has received a $5 million anonymous gift to support the interior design program in the Department of Art and Design. 

“This very generous gift will be transformative for a growing program with a national reputation for high-quality and accomplished graduates. These funds will ensure the retention and recruitment of outstanding faculty and make certain that our students are placed in challenging and meaningful experiential learning opportunities,” said СӰԺ President Houston Davis.

The gift establishes two categories of endowed funds to support the interior design program. The majority of the gift, $4 million, will be used to endow faculty positions allowing at least four named professorships. The remaining $1 million will be designated to support internship and experiential learning opportunities for students. 

“Our students already participate in a number of professional development opportunities, such as national conferences, community-based projects,  and certification exams. This gift will allow us to expand access to these kinds of real-world learning environments, which are invaluable to students as they prepare to begin their careers in interior design,”  said Patricia Poulter, provost and executive vice president. “We are grateful for this gift and what it will allow us to accomplish on behalf of the students.”

All students must complete an internship before they graduate. Nearly 60 businesses across Arkansas currently serve as internship partners with the interior design program. 

The interior design program at СӰԺ has seen a 41% increase in enrollment since 2016-17.  On average, matriculation for students in the program occurs in a little more than four years. 

Amy Ling ’23 saw the program expand throughout her time as a student.

“I knew interior design was such a hidden gem,” Ling said. “The program is very impressive, and I know the faculty work extremely hard to help the program grow.”

Ling currently works as an interior designer at Conway-based Miah Millan Interiors. She said that at the start of her time at СӰԺ, many of her friends were unaware that СӰԺ had an interior design major. By her senior year, she had begun working as a peer coach and noticed that fellow students were increasingly aware of the program. 

Emily Flake ’21 was initially undeclared when she enrolled at СӰԺ. Through a meeting with interior design professors, she learned more about the major and the profession. 

“The professors truly treat you like you are a part of their family, and they really want to see you thrive and succeed. They’re very hands-on with helping students find internships and job opportunities,” said Flake. The Conway native currently works at Evo Business Environments in Rogers. 

Tia Curtis started her professional journey in interior design two days after crossing the commencement stage in 2006. As an interior designer, her career has been focused primarily on the aviation industry. She currently works in Georgia as principal designer for Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation.

“When most people hear ‘interior design,’ they think only residential or commercial. So, the wonderful thing that [the interior design program professors] would do is bring in designers from different disciplines — whether it’s hospitality design, lighting design, or healthcare design — to share their careers so that we know what possibilities  there are in the realm of [interior] design.”

Kionna Browning works as an interior designer at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. The August 2022 graduate appreciates the value that benefactors are seeing in СӰԺ. 

“I am glad that donors are investing and looking more into interior design because it is one of the most important careers,” Browning said. “You’re learning how to draft and hand-draft things. You’re learning how to calculate how much lighting needs to go into a room and learning all the different codes about stairwells and making sure that places in buildings are accessible.” 

The СӰԺ Department of Art and Design offers two degree options for interior design majors: a Bachelor of Science and  Bachelor of Arts. The curriculum prepares students to serve the interior design and architectural professions in areas of commercial and residential planning and merchandising. Coursework for interior design includes basic design, technical knowledge and skills, communication, history of the arts and business practices. The program is accredited through the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (), National Association of Art and Design () and National Council for Preservation Education (). Interior design students are given the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy, with .