February 25, 2019 Alumna Robin Klehr Avia Establishes Endowed Professorship

Robin Khler Avia

Alumna Robin Klehr Avia, regional managing principal for Gensler, has established a new endowed professorship in the college.

The Robin Klehr Avia Professorship recognizes and awards excellence. This generous gift will be awarded to a current faculty member in any school in the college or used to recruit an exemplary faculty member, strengthening the college’s faculty recruitment and retention program.

Endowments are vital to the financial security of the University of Tennessee. Earnings from matured endowments are invested to fund key programs. The UT Chancellor’s Faculty Support Challenge allows the college to begin benefitting from Avia’s endowment now and award the professorship without delay.

“Robin’s passion is ensuring a legacy of success for the future of the college,” said Scott Poole, dean, UT College of Architecture and Design. “Through her generous and long-term financial support and leadership, Robin has made a profound impact on our ability to attract the best students and recruit and retain exceptional faculty.”

After graduating from UT in 1976 with degree in Interior Design, Klehr Avia joined the New York office of Gensler, the top-ranked architecture and design firm in the world. Forty years later, Robin Klehr Avia has led and influenced design of the built environment in cities around the world. At Gensler, she currently serves as the regional managing principal of the Northeast and Latin American regions, is a member of the board of directors, and serves on the executive committee.

“I’m proud to make this contribution to continuing the tradition of excellence in design education at UT,” said Klehr Avia. “I know the next generation of students and faculty will build upon the quality of the programs at the College of Architecture and Design and take the school to even greater heights.”

“Robin has a vision for the future of the industry and makes choices to influence it in wholly positive ways,” said Poole. “We are grateful for her generous support and leadership in the industry. We in the college and across UT are proud to call Robin our friend.”

Khler Avia receiving honorary degree

Klehr Avia has had a long-term influence in the college. In 2012, she was recognized with an Alumni Professional Achievement Award from the UT Alumni Association, and the following year, she established the Robin Klehr Avia Scholarship to assist out-of-state Interior Architecture students. In 2013, Klehr Avia was a speaker at the College of Architecture and Design’s Hooding Ceremony, and in 2016, UT bestowed upon Klehr Avia its 11th honorary degree, a Doctor of Fine Arts. She accepted the award during the college’s commencement exercises, during which she was the featured speaker.

During her career, Klehr Avia has directed a number of award-winning projects that include The New York Times headquarters and the renovation of the iconic Ford Foundation.

She has received numerous design accolades including a Business Week/Architectural Record Award, the International Interior Design Association’s Decade of Design Award and top national awards from the Society of American Registered Architects. Klehr Avia’s work has appeared in numerous publications including Interior Design, Contract, Architectural Record, and World Architecture. She was profiled by The New York Times.

She is a past member of the National Board of the International Interior Design Association and was elected to its prestigious College of Fellows in 2000. In recognition of her long and influential career and impact on the future of the industry, Klehr Avia was inducted into Interior Design’s Hall of Fame in 2017.

Gensler is a global architecture, design and planning firm that employs more than 6,000 people in 48 cities around the globe. For seven consecutive years, the company has been ranked the No. 1 architecture firm by Architectural Record.

In 1999, Gensler established the Brinkmann Scholarship Fund as a memorial to inspirational interior designer and former Gensler principal Donald G. Brinkmann. Each year, dozens of students apply for the scholarship, and for the past four years, students from the UT School of Interior Architecture have placed first or second. In 2017, an undergraduate student from UT was awarded Gensler’s Diversity Scholarship, a juried program that recognizes emerging talent among African-American college students.

Founded in 1965, the UT College of Architecture and Design enriches quality of life in the region and world through transformational design education, design/build program, key partnerships and award-winning facilities including the state-of-the-art Fab Lab. The college is composed of more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students in architecture, interior architecture and landscape architecture.

Headshot photo credit: EPNY

Want to learn more our unique endowments? Read about our BarberMcMurry Professorship.