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Home » News » Faculty Spotlight with Jim Dawkins

Faculty Spotlight with Jim Dawkins

Published April 15, 2020

Jim Dawkins is the associate chair and an associate professor of IA&D. He serves as an instructor in both undergraduate and graduate design studios and courses in graphic techniques, specifically hand drawing and sketching, used for design ideation and visual communication. He is a registered architect in several states, having earned his BA in Design and Master of Architecture degrees from Clemson University prior to practicing for twenty years as an architect, designer and corporate officer with design firms in Atlanta, GA and Vail, CO.


IA&D: Hi Professor Dawkins, these are definitely interesting times. Our program has converted to online classes, but business is still carrying on as usual. What is your reaction to all this change as a professor and (!!!) new Associate Chair of our department?

Dawkins: Indeed, we’re on a path not of our planning, and it would seem to be not completely in our control. However, the experience of learning design isn’t only relevant or valuable within the confines of a studio or classroom. Focusing on the goals and objectives of professional preparation transcends the temporary setting of WJB’s bricks, mortar, and steel. I like to think that the success of IA&D is wrapped up in its students, faculty, and staff, and whether that education is delivered at a desk or on a screen is to some extent immaterial. However, the joy of personal and collegial camaraderie can never be replaced by circuits, wires, and screens. High-tech is no substitute for fostering the high-touch of our design community.


IA&D: You recently presented your research on sketching as a means of memory retrieval at the annual IDEC Conference and, prior to that, at the International AMPS Conference hosted here in WJB. What spurred your desire to pursue this topic?

Dawkins: My ‘research’ (an autoethnographic toy box of sorts) is interwoven with the nature of drawing itself: clarity with discipline, discipline with freedom, freedom to express past and present and perhaps a measure of the future. This all suggests to me, and my research is following this path, that perhaps those with memory deficiencies could benefit from some form of sketching that would allow them to retrieve and hold onto their memories in more permanent ways.


IA&D: You have served as a member of many MFA Candidates’ thesis committees. In your experience, what is the biggest draw for students who pursue a graduate degree with our department?

Dawkins: Biggest draw? The satisfaction that you chose to pursue furthering your education, ensuring a measure of professional practice success, because you wanted to, not because you had to. Education is not given, it is earned. It has its costs, but the return on that investment is a mature level of responsibility and accountability our society desperately needs. I’ve always said that it’s a dadgum shame when an education gets in the way of college. A master’s degree is the pivot point where that particular paradigm undergoes a major and necessary shift.


IA&D: Might you share some words of encouragement with our community?

Dawkins: It’s as simple as my high school motto: Seek, Endure, Conquer.