At fall 2019 convocation, FIT welcomed 16 new full-time classroom and non-classroom faculty members. Each group reflects President Joyce F. Brown’s commitment to expanding the full-time faculty and ensuring that faculty members have the skills and expertise needed to educate students for the future—one of FIT’s strategic goals.
Read below to meet the college’s newest educators.
Ethan Lu, Assistant Professor, Interior Design, has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Michigan, a master’s of architecture from Harvard University, and a master of science in architecture and urban design from Columbia. Lu’s academic focus is on sustainable design and design technology. Prior to joining FIT, he served as a director for the undergraduate and graduate programs at the New York School of Interior Design, as an adjunct assistant professor at the New York Institute of Technology, and as a principal at Metropolitan United Studio, PLLC. He is the current president of the Interior Designers for Legislation in New York, a coalition that advocates for interior designers in New York State.
John Nickle, Associate Professor, Illustration, holds BA and MFA degrees in fine art from the University of South Florida. He has had more than 30 years of professional experience as a freelance illustrator for clients that include Random House, Simon & Schuster, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Nike Inc., The Atlantic, and others. He has also been an adjunct faculty member at FIT, as well as at Pratt Institute.
Amy Sperber, Assistant Professor, Fashion Design, earned both her BFA and MFA from FIT. She has previously taught at Parsons and has been a part-time faculty member at FIT for 10 years. Sperber has played a major role in FIT’s interdisciplinary collaborations with Columbia University and is a design visionary, researcher, inventor, and activist focusing on nontraditional product development, like body scanning and 3D avatar–based visualizations.
Tetsuo Tamanaha, Assistant Professor, Fashion Design, holds an MFA in theatrical costume production from the College of Fine Arts at Boston University, a BS in theatrical costume design from Brooklyn College, and an AAS in Fashion Design from FIT. His research interests include creative draping, patternmaking, and historical costumes. He has worked as a designer and patternmaker for such companies as DKNY Coat, BCBG Azria Group, and Alice + Olivia, and was previously an adjunct faculty member at FIT.
Jennifer Bentivegna, Assistant Professor, Fashion Business Management, received her bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from FIT, and will complete her master’s in learning and emerging technologies at Empire State College this spring. She has been both an adjunct and temporary full-time faculty member at FIT since 2014, focusing on product and team development and retailing, as well as on new technologies in the world of virtual and augmented reality. Bentivegna worked for 15 years at Armani Exchange, where she was director of e-commerce, merchandising, buying, and planning.
Elena Romero, Assistant Professor, Advertising and Marketing Communications, holds a BA in journalism and mass communications and an MS in publishing, both from New York University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in urban education with a concentration in leadership and policy at the CUNY Graduate Center. For the past 17 years, Romero taught part time at FIT, receiving a 2017–18 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching. As a journalist, Romero has worked for a variety of publications, with areas of expertise that include fashion, TV, film, hip-hop, and Latino culture. She is the author of Free Stylin’: How Hip Hop Changed the Fashion Industry.
Regina Yoo, Assistant Professor, Production Management, earned a BFA from Parsons and is currently pursuing her master’s in industrial and labor relations at Cornell. She also holds certificates in Stock Securities Exchange and Small Business Management and Real Estate Development from NYU. Yoo’s area of expertise is the use of innovative digital technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D printing, and 3D body scanning in the development and production of clothing. She has served as an adjunct faculty member at FIT, and comes to the college from VR Nova/Inteus International, LLC, where she is the president and senior brand and product developer.
Nurhayat Bilge, Assistant Professor, English and Communication Studies, holds a PhD in intercultural communication from Arizona State University, an MA in interpersonal and public communication from Central Michigan University, and a BA in sociology from Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul. Her research interests include intercultural communication, ethnicity and cultural identity, and gender and communication studies. She comes to us from her faculty position as assistant professor at Florida International University.
Yoko Katagiri, Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, has a PhD and an MPhil in economics from the CUNY Graduate Center, and a BA in economics from Rikkyo University in Tokyo. She has held teaching positions as an adjunct lecturer and assistant professor at Queens College, as well as at Parsons and FIT. Katagiri’s research and creative experience also includes accomplishments as a designer, most recently focusing on the development of garments for mastectomy recovery patients.
Audrey Nasar, Assistant Professor, Science and Math, earned a PhD in mathematics education from Columbia University, an MA in pure mathematics from Hunter College Graduate School, and a BA in mathematics from Rutgers University. She is pursuing an MFA in Illustration at FIT and expects to complete those studies in May 2021. Nasar’s research interests include mathematics and art, and statistics education. She comes to FIT from a position as assistant professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC).
Zaida Navarro, Assistant Professor, Modern Language and Cultures, holds a PhD in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian literatures and languages and an MPhil in Spanish from the CUNY Graduate Center, an MA in comparative literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a BA in English linguistics and literature from the University of Seville in Spain. Navarro’s research interests include contemporary Mexican literature, gender studies, and the representation of masculinity in recent Latin American theater. She was previously an assistant professor at Bronx Community College.
Dahlia Schweitzer, Associate Professor, Film and Media Studies, holds a PhD in cinema and media studies from UCLA, an MA in criticism and theory from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and a BA in English and studio arts from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Her wide range of research and teaching interests includes television culture, sexuality and gender, intertextuality, digital culture, contemporary art, post-feminism, and contemporary terrorism. She was previously an adjunct faculty member at UCLA.
Becky E. Conekin, Associate Professor and Acting Associate Chair, Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice, holds a PhD in modern European history and an MA in history from the University of Michigan, and a BA in history from Knox College. She comes to FIT from Yale University, where she was a senior lecturer in history. She is also a research fellow on the European Studies Council for the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. Conekin has published six books, as well as numerous published book chapters, articles, book and exhibition reviews, and encyclopedia entries.
Paul Melton, Associate Professor, Art Market Studies, holds a PhD in media, culture, and communication from New York University, where he was also a Javits Scholar; he has BS degrees in Spanish and mathematics from the University of Kansas. Melton’s work focuses on the forms of knowledge and their technologies of production that create value in the art market and that shape broader understandings of and relationships to art. Melton has spent more than a decade working in communications and market research across five countries and several industries, with areas of focus that include data-mining software, telecommunications market research, and international development. He has taught at the Stern School of Business and the Steinhardt School of Communication, Culture, and Human Development at NYU, as well as at Sotheby’s Institute of Art.
Full-Time Non-Classroom Faculty Members
Vernon Goodman-Keating, Assistant Director of Admissions and Strategic Recruitment, Office of Admissions, earned an MBA from Kaplan University and a BFA in drama from the Tisch School for the Arts at NYU. He has worked in higher education and enrollment management for 10 years, serving as the director of admissions and recruitment for the Collaborative Arts Project 21 at the Musical Theatre Conservatory in New York City, and as the director of enrollment management for Plaza College in Forest Hills.
Steven Keating, Associate Director for Speaking, FIT Writing and Speaking Studio, holds an MA in communication studies from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and a BA in communication arts and humanities from Keystone College. He comes to FIT from Fayetteville Technical Community College in North Carolina, where he taught public speaking and interpersonal communication courses to a diverse student body ranging from high school students enrolled in early college to active duty military at nearby Fort Bragg. His research interests include interpersonal and public communication competencies, instructional communication, and writing center/communication center scholarship.