Obama to Appoint Two Design Professors to Federal Commission

President Barack Obama intends to appoint Graduate School of Design professors Toni L. Griffin and Alex Krieger to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, he announced in a White House press release Friday.

“These fine public servants bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their important roles. I look forward to working with them,” Obama said in the press release announcing several postings.

The Commission of Fine Arts is a team “charged with giving expert advice to the President, the Congress and the federal and District of Columbia governments on matters of design and aesthetics,” according to its website.

Both Griffin and Krieger are currently professors in practice in the Urban Planning and Design Department. Krieger was first appointed to the CFA in Sept. 2012 and is up for reappointment for a second term. Members are appointed to four-year terms on the commission.

According to Diane E. Davis, chair of the GSD's Urban Planning and Design Department, having two members serve on a national commission would increase visibility for the department.

“This is an exceptional recognition of our program given that this is not a large commission of which two of the members are from the same department,” Davis said.

For Griffin, this federal appointment marks her first term on the commission.

“She is familiar with the American city experience,” Davis said. “She will bring a special way of understanding how the arts can be celebrated across a variety of locales in the United States.”

Griffin first came to the GSD as an adjunct associate professor between 2006 and 2011, and she returned to the school in Jan. 2016 to teach in urban planning and social equity. Before her time at Harvard, Griffin worked in both the private and public sectors, including for the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and the Washington, D.C., Department of Planning.

Krieger, who has taught at the GSD since 1977, was the senior planning adviser for the Harvard Allston Work Team and has served on design review teams for Harvard’s Cambridge and Allston campuses.

“Professor Krieger is really known for his significant contributions to the city of Boston,” Davis said. “It is also fitting that we have a professor that goes deep into one city as well as one who casts her net more broadly. ”

Currently, six of the seven members of the commission—including Krieger— have ties with the University. Five members have received a degree from the GSD or served as a professor or fellow there.

Krieger and Griffin declined to comment, citing White House policy to not speak publicly on appointments until they are finalized.

—Staff writer Theo C. Lebryk can be reached at theo.lebryk@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @theo_lebryk.

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