CCAD President Dr. Melanie Corn: MDes — right place, right time, right resource

Columbus College of Art & Design’s president, Dr. Melanie Corn, recently sat down with us to discuss CCAD’s new MDes program — a real-life example of strategic thinking in action — as well as the graduate students experiencing the program’s inaugural year, and the program’s effective benefits to the Columbus community.


How did CCAD’s MDes program begin?

The program was in development when I came on board at CCAD. Curriculum was in progress and the department was ramping up to accommodate this new program. That said, the MDes program was one reason I chose to join the team. It’s a unique program for Columbus — and for art and design schools in general. I felt that CCAD’s desire to create this program said a lot about the institution’s innovative culture.


Why does the MDes in Integrative Design belong in this institution?

In a nutshell, it aligns with our school’s culture.

The MDes program is a perfect extension of our undergrad design degrees. We teach strategic thinking at the undergrad level because industrial, interior, or visual design in the commercial world needs to align with organizational goals. Collaboration is a big part of that.

Which leads to the main reason it is such a great fit here: Our school’s culture nurtures our students’ desires to collaborate. Strategic design needs collaboration. And organizations recognize the value of leaders who can successfully bring people together to focus on a shared goal. That is an essential skill today.

And, not unimportant, a natural foundation for a program such as MDes already existed here. We have faculty that really understand society, business, people. We have the physical tools to help MDes students bring their innovative creations to life.


Your current students are the program’s first. What do you think of your inaugural cohort?

I think our students are incredibly confident and passionate. They are helping shape the program as they learn. There’s a chemistry between the students and faculty, a mutual respect. The students learn by collaborating with actual clients to help solve complex business problems. That challenge, and the rewards, genuinely excite them because their creative solutions are realized in the community.


Speaking of community, what do you want the Columbus community, and beyond, to know about CCAD’s MDes program?

Number 1 – Design is not just a visual thing. Strategic design — the essence of this program — is about how you create to achieve goals.

Number 2 – Our MDes program is business minded, aimed at developing smart, innovative leaders who will have a real impact on their future worlds.

Number 3 – Merce Graell, chair of CCAD's Master of Design in Integrative Design program: We are lucky to have such an accomplished design thinker, who built a career in Spain serving and solving clients’ challenges at the accomplished international strategic design firm Designit, here in Columbus with us. To bring this caliber of talent to CCAD is a real advantage for all of us.

And lastly – This program is a resource for the business, nonprofit, and civic communities here in Columbus. We’ve always felt fortunate to be part of such a collaborative community, and that now extends to our MDes program. We’re always looking for partnerships that simultaneously teach our students and provide value to the community.

And to organizations that provide tuition reimbursement? This is the place to send your rock stars to be.


Columbus College of Art & Design’s Master of Design in Integrative Design is still accepting applications through March 15, 2018. If you or someone you know would benefit from our program, or you would like more information, please refer them to our website.