Tsai Lu Liu, who has served as the head of the Department of Graphic Design and Industrial Design at North Carolina State University since 2012, will bring his expertise from both the academic and corporate arenas as the new dean of the College of Architecture, Arts, and Design (AAD) at Virginia Tech.

“During this important transitional period for the College of Architecture, Arts, and Design, Lu brings a wealth of academic and industry leadership experience to the college and a vision for working collaboratively to elevate its programs, faculty, and national reputation,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke. “His expertise and perspectives will be invaluable to our academic leadership team and to creating a strategic path forward for AAD that aligns with the goals and priorities of the university."

Dean Liu (pronounced “Lee-yoo”) begins his new role at Virginia Tech on July 1, following Rosemary Blieszner, who has served as interim dean since August 2021. The new dean, who goes by Lu (pronounced “Lou”) as his first name, will also be a professor of industrial design in the College of Architecture, Arts, and Design’s School of Design.

With an impressive user-centered approach to innovation within private industry, Liu has applied his background to the university environment. At NC State, Liu fostered a culture of faculty and student research, established corporate-sponsored research and partnerships, and enhanced faculty and student diversity. In addition, he mentored and facilitated faculty members’ successful grant applications totaling more than $2.3 million since 2019. His scholarship focuses on analysis of user experience and applications of design thinking to industrial design processes, product development and manufacturing, and pedagogy.

New student internships, experiential learning, and professional career opportunities flourished under Liu’s leadership in the Department of Graphic Design and Industrial Design at NC State. He also led NC State’s efforts for “Design It Forward,” a partnership between NC State and IBM to help nonprofit organizations rethink how to understand, empathize, and design for the needs of their clients. In 2021, Liu directed a team from the College of Design in the development of public service announcements for North Carolina county governments. This project was recognized as a Graphic Design USA national winner in the Health + Wellness category.

“I am very humbled and honored to serve as the dean of the College of Architecture, Arts, and Design at Virginia Tech,” said Liu. “The academic strengths of AAD, the commitment to excellence, and tradition of service: these attributes place the college as an integral leader in the pursuit of inquiry, discovery, and understanding. I am excited to be part of this extraordinary community as we explore scholarship, expression, and inspiration, and create experiences that will positively enhance and impact our world.”

At Virginia Tech, Liu will take over a college realigned in 2022 under the leadership of Blieszner, the interim dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor.

“I want to thank Rosemary Blieszner for her remarkable leadership and contributions as interim dean and for her tireless efforts in guiding the college forward during this critical period of transition,” Clarke said. “She has done an exemplary job in positioning the college and the new dean for future growth and success.”

Liu spent the first 13 years of his career in private industry, where he led and collaborated with interdisciplinary teams to create solutions in health care and telecommunications as well as the design, production, and marketing of semiconductors, toys, and electronic gaming systems. He earned his Bachelor of Science from National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan and soon after co-founded a company to design and produce emergency medical service products.

With an MBA from Georgia State University and a Master of Industrial Design from Auburn University, Liu joined Auburn as an assistant professor in its School of Industrial and Graphic Design in 2004. Promoted to associate professor in 2009, he continued to teach undergraduates and co-developed and co-taught a new course series as part of an interdisciplinary faculty team in Auburn’s Honors College. In 2011, Liu was appointed as interim associate dean for research and academic affairs in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction at Auburn.

Liu was a recipient of the Southern Governors’ Association’s Innovator Award and has been recognized with awards for outstanding teaching and service. An active presenter and lecturer at many national and international conferences, his research and teaching interests include user-experience centered product/service innovation, user-centered design methods, inclusive design, design education, and the social responsibility of designers.

“I am thrilled for everyone in the College of Architecture, Arts, and Design to welcome Dean Lu Liu to Blacksburg,” Blieszner said. “It has been my honor and privilege to lead our new college during this time of transition and see our creative endeavors make critical contributions as part of Virginia Tech’s mission as a comprehensive global land-grant university. The work and dedication of our AAD students, staff, and faculty, and the deep commitment of our alumni, will continue to impact Virginia Tech, our communities, our world, and the future."

Liu was named the dean after an international search with finalists representing all four schools within the college. AAD, with more than 1,700 students and 200 faculty and staff members, encompasses the School of Architecture, School of Design, School of Performing Arts, and School of Visual Arts, with 11 undergraduate degrees, five master’s degrees, a doctoral degree, and a graduate certificate program.

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