W27, the student newspaper of FIT, sat down with President Joyce F. Brown, who has been at the helm of the college for nearly 20 years. Find excerpts from this fascinating interview below, and enjoy the whole conversation here.
W27’s Andrea Navarro: I understand that next year will mark 20 years since you became president of FIT. Do you consider that was a goal or an opportunity? And when I say opportunity, I mean that many FIT students start their careers here thinking they know what they want to be, and then graduate and have decided on a completely different path. How was it for you?
Dr. Joyce Brown: To tell you the truth I didn’t think about how long I would be here. I just thought about getting things done while I was here. What I saw was a lot of opportunity for growth and for change and that’s kind of the path that we set on. Each year we did something big, and that kind of makes time go fast, you know? You have a big project every year and that kind of builds into next year’s project and then one day I looked up and all this time had passed! So we continue to identify what the next step is for the strategic direction and the goals of the institution, while also taking into account how so many things in the world are changing— we have to figure out a way to be a part of those changes.
W27: So innovation is important to you?
JB: Yeah. I think there are many things happening in the world that will impact what happens with our graduates and we need to prepare the students for those things. Innovation is just a word until you start to figure out how to apply it to your day to day life. So we need to be innovative in our curriculum, in how we teach, in how we prepare students for a changing industry and market. All those things are innovation. And then you take a look at what are the threats that really impact how the industry is going to be. Technology is a big one, but technology doesn’t stand alone. So how does it integrate with how we position the college to interact with the world? Another thing is sustainability. It’s a very big issue in the world. But it certainly has been a very big issue from the point of view of the students. A big portion of them want to work on these things. So if you combine sustainability and innovation with a forward-thinking direction you start to think about what are some of the ways in which we can impact the world and protect the planet and still send our students out in the industry to put to use their expertise and knowledge so we can began to shape the next generation of leaders. So it’s about being current and energized by what the currency of the day is; we have to master that in order to prepare our students for what’s coming.
AN: I know you are a Psychology major, but if you could choose one major offered by FIT, which one would you choose?
JB: Oh, wow, that’s so funny! (Laughs) Well, first of all, I’m not blessed with the same talent that FIT students are. I mean, I could never be an artist. But I’d love to do something with textiles. I went to see how they do the silkscreening and that was fun; also, the weaving— all the textile stuff, I love it. And interestingly, I think it’s going on an important direction for the world because there’s so much you can do with textiles. I think the whole interaction of Design & Business and Design & Science is really going to see the manifestation of those innovations. There’s a lot of research that has been done and we have a lot of faculty that are involved in terms of using textiles for other industries such as healthcare, where you can embed medications in fabric so they are time-released or for diabetics, when the body interacts with the fabric letting it know when it’s time for medication. You know, there’s so many possibilities.
AN: Clearly, I imagine that fashion is important to you. If it is, how would you describe your style?
JB: I think the most important thing is that you feel comfortable with what you end up evoking as your style. I have friends who I think look really cool with the way they put themselves together, yet I think I would look ridiculous if I wore what they are wearing. So I think I’ll just tell you what’s important to me. First, the line has to flatter and go with the body type. Then, the fabric, which I love to touch and feel the texture of. Lastly, the finishing— I have friends that laugh at me because I won’t buy something if I don’t like the buttons. It’s how the garment is put together. Obviously, jewelry is important and how you accessorize as well.