Toy Design’s Judy Ellis Named SUNY Distinguished Faculty

The State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees has appointed Judith Ellis, chair, Toy Design, to the Distinguished Faculty Rank. As an active faculty member within the SUNY system, Ellis is also now a member of the SUNY Distinguished Academy.

SUNY Board Chairman H. Carl McCall noted that “the SUNY distinguished professor rankings are the highest honors our Board of Trustees has the opportunity to convey to faculty, making them a tremendous point of pride for us all. These individuals are leaders and innovators in their field, serving as excellent mentors for our students while advancing groundbreaking research and discovery in New York and around the globe.”

The Distinguished Professorship is conferred upon individuals who have achieved national or international prominence and a distinguished reputation within a chosen field. This distinction is attained through significant contributions to the research literature or through artistic performance or achievement in the case of the arts. The candidate’s work must be of such character that the individual’s presence will tend to elevate the standards of scholarship of colleagues both within and beyond these persons’ academic fields.

Ellis is founder of the first baccalaureate program in toy design. Her goal in establishing the program 25 years ago was to educate “socially responsible, professional designers who produce marketable toys that promote the development of the child.” Her students learn the technical skills of drawing, design, model-making, and engineering. Her acute appreciation for the deep psychological meaning of toys, play, and storytelling in the lives of children is infused into the curriculum. Ellis is an extraordinary educator, universally recognized for her significant contributions to the field of design education.

Ellis has written 11 different courses for the Toy Design program, and since 1988, she has created and integrated 19 unique teaching activities into the curriculum that range from storytelling and student play sessions to freeform technology. Her students become leaders in their field. Indeed, the program boasts 100 percent job placement, and the skills her graduates bring to the workplace have changed the face of the toy industry.

A renowned design educator, Ellis’s work has been recognized nationally and internationally. The President of the Toy Industry Association, writing on behalf of 818 toy companies, observed, “So significant are her contributions and the positive impact of Judy Ellis that in 2013, she was elected to the esteemed Toy Industry Hall of Fame. The Hall recognizes only those select few who have made a lasting, exemplary impact on the global toy industry.” She also is the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Women in Toys Award.

“The SUNY distinguished faculty are truly the best of the best,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Through innovative instruction, unique research opportunities, and engaging applied learning opportunities, they deliver a top quality higher education for our students that is second to none.”

Ellis is one of 29 faculty appointed this year to the Distinguished Faculty Rank from throughout SUNY, which is comprised of 64 colleges and universities. Since the program’s inception in 1963, SUNY has appointed 1,062 faculty to the distinguished ranks: 371 Distinguished Professorships; 310 Distinguished Service Professorships; 376 Distinguished Teaching Professorships; and 5 Distinguished Librarian Professorships. More information about SUNY’s faculty award program is available online.

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